Below, I have included my comments in bold print within the complete text of Brian Cox’s comment to my original post on the Employee Free Choice Act.

 

It is no secret that our working class is the engine that drives our economy. This group pays for most all the items and issues we enjoy here in America. The wealthy like to think they pay it all and that’s just not the truth. Many of wealthy actually pay fewer taxes than do most of the working class per-capta.  I find that most arguments that start by setting up class-envy or class-warfare, are very weak and need the emotion of class envy to aid the cause.

This is the primary reason Unions are important for the American worker. Facts and figures show that belonging to a union will get you higher pay even after dues not to mention the benefits.  The comment on the previous post on this subject by Roger Ram  is very clear that the hourly wage may be more  but the annual income is not necessarily so.  The NLRA & NLRB have laws and regulations against dues from union members going to political endeavors. If you’re a Union member you have to voluntary contribute to a Union PAC for money to go there.  In the last election cycle YES American Unions and their members gave in record numbers. Even then those contribution numbers were much less than business.  I would argue with the “facts and figures.”  Many unions use their paid staff as virtual campaign employees of the candidates they support.  Union member’s dues pay for the Union staff.  That is a contribution.  There is also the question about how voluntary PAC contributions are.  Much like what the EFCA will do by eliminating secret ballots, PAC contributions are not secret.  There is huge peer pressure in many unions to contribute and names of those who have (and have not) contributed are published for all to see.  Saying that you have to “voluntary contribute to a Union PAC for money to go there” is naïve at best.

The Employee free choice act will make some changes to how organizing happens here in America. All you have to see is how employers treat their employees when they discover their employee may be even thinking about becoming or joining any Union.

You have heard a lot of outright lies and misconception about the purposed new law (EFCA) it will not rob the employees of the right to vote for representation. Even the WallStreet Journal finally spoke the truth about this. It will change dramatically who can and cannot ask for that right. Currently employees and the employer can ask for and receive a secret ballot election. The EFCA will remove the right for an employer to demand that a secret ballot election be held. That is what big and small business is screaming about. The funny part of this is that none of any of the “management group” for the employer get to vote any way so in reality they are not loosing anything.

Under current NLRA law and regulations the employees if 30% so chose can have a secret ballot election. This will stay the same with the EFCA. History has shown that employers use this time frame to hold an election too aggressively campaign against the Union and use many illegal and prohibited acts to coerce, intimidate and outright fire employees that may want to vote for a Union. This is what they are lying for and want so desperately to keep. Many companies today have and continuously force their employees to attend anti-union training. The companies say the employees get paid for it and there for it is right and correct. If they truly want to let their employees have honest balanced information they would offer all sides of the issue to give information and presentation. This should be done off the job. The employees should be working productively during paid time on the job.  

The entire hullabaloo about unions intimidating and coercing people to join the union has a little merit. Looking at NLRB records over the last seventy three (73) years there have been only about thirty five (35) cases found with merit against all unions from the NLRA of 1935. It would be nice to know where this ‘statistic’ comes from since all I can find contradicts this.  In 2005, for example, the NLRB logged 6381 allegations against Unions, 83% of which were for illegal restraint and coercion of employees (http://www.unionfacts.com/articles/laborPractices.cfm )  Looking at those same NLRB records we find that in the last ten years business’s and employers have had over twenty thousand cases each year found with merit.  Unless numbers have changed dramatically from 2005 (see the NLRB report for that year at http://www.nlrb.gov/nlrb/shared_files/brochures/Annual%20Reports/Entire2005Annual.pdf ), these numbers are just plain wrong.  It is also interesting to note that of the charges filed against Employers, 75% were filed by Unions and 25% by individuals.  In the case of filings against Unions, 81% were filed by individuals, 17% by Employers and 2% by other Unions.  I know that when my company was Unionized in 1977, we had 6 filings against us with OSHA for unsafe working conditions.  All were initiated by the Union.  All were inspected by CalOsha and found to be false.  The three or four unfair labor filings against us were all by the Union or the two Union organizers we had unknowingly hired.  All were dismissed for lack of cause.  We were told by the attorney we hired that the Unions file early and often to keep their statistics up.  He said it is part of their overall plan and that they typically employ staff for the sole purpose of filing claims against employers to keep their statistics positive.  When the Union refused to accept our company HR policies (which would have given better benefits though slightly lower wages than the Union contract), they filed against us for refusing to bargain (their most common complaint according to the NLRB).  In fact, we could have filed against them for failure to negotiate.  BTW, 5 years later, the Union was Decertified.  Our employees, led by the Shop Steward, got fed up with paying dues and getting nothing for them.

Do the math that’s over 200,000 cases in the last ten years.  In my opinion this is much like what you get when policemen are given quotas for the number of tickets they must write.  Lots of tickets are written and few prosecutions are achieved.  It is part of a Union Official’s job to allege violations of labor law.

35 cases in 73 years or over 200,000 cases in just the last ten years do you see a difference. I am not saying unions do not at times do well in representing their membership. Unions do make mistakes, but compared to employers unions do a radically better job of taking care of their members than do most employers.  The only way I could conceive that these numbers resemble truth is if this is the number of cases that made it to the NLRB (whose job and rules are slanted to protect employees). For 35 cased to make it to the National Board level, after making it to the Regional level (charged with resolving all complaints), after making it past the local level (approximately 30% of cases each year are handled by this stage in the process), after making it past the out of court settlement level (usually with administrative law judges – about one third of cases are settled by this stage) would take years and lots of work paid for by the employers.  I have seen the analogy that this number of 35 is like saying that since only 5 abortion cases have reached the Supreme Court, there were only 5 abortions in the United States in the past 25 years.

The EFCA will not impact employee’s chances of having a secret ballot election.  This is absolutely false.  There will only be an secret election if the Union is unable to get 50% of employees to sign a card.  With sufficient peer pressure I can’t imagine many cases where the Unions will allow less than 50% to sign.  Why would they risk a vote if they can get enough cards signed?.

The next major issue about the EFCA is binding arbitration. Businesses do not want binding arbitration because they cannot control it. Well neither do the unions. Binding arbitration means a third party comes to the table and reviews the negotiation process thus far. The arbitrator then hears what each side has to say to make their case. Then have a specific time frame to decide how the first contract will be structured.  This is not a new process many unions already have this in their contract language and often the results are equally poor for the union and business. All too often the business just comes to the bargaining table never intending to even try to reach a fair contract they just plan to meet to be seen negotiating all along they are playing the delay, delay and delay again game.  The bottom line is that business needs to understand they need to treat their employees as partners and the vital resource they are. Binding arbitration stops the misuse of time and reasources and get’s both parties back to work.  Once a Union is certified as the bargaining group by collecting 50+% of employee’s signatures under EFCA the employees can only join the union that has been certified.  If the union fails to bargain with the employer or vice versa, the contract goes to binding arbitration.  This takes from the employee to right to chose another union or no union.  It should be employees who are against this provision which locks the employees into a Union even if the Union fails to produce any of what they promise.

Employees should be an equal consideration to profit and growth. Management needs to be honest and realistic to their part in the puzzle of success. We are watching the world economy struggle with the unethical management and we see daily how trust worthily high level management can be. Again some CEOs and management do have and hold a good respect for their workers. All too often we see the result of those managers that only see the people as an expense on a ledger sheet, if it means they may have a shot at some bonus they will unflinchingly fire, down size and outsource or just move overseas to make a buck to put in their pocket.   I agree that there are some very unscrupulous employers.  The same goes for unions.  My guess is that most people are fair and honest in both the Union and the Management.  Because a few are bad actors, it does not mean that we should set up a system that forces employees from one set of potential bad guys to another.  Why not let employees enjoy the right to a secret election?

The third major issue is the stiff fines and penalties business can face if they fail to do all the necessary items outlined above. Again look at the record you can see how business have learned to see the current fines and penalties as just another cost of doing business. We have watched over the last twenty years how new laws and penalties have effectively cut DUI’s and helped to save live’s on our highways. I do not like it any more than anyone else that we need to have fines and penalties, but they work especially in business where it seems the bottom line is all the managers’ worship.  Why is it that only penalties against Employers are mentioned in this legislation?  Is that fair?

Our economy is in trouble, we have for the last 25 to 40 years been on the same basic course in business and money policy in America. Insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results. Every time we have let our middle class work hard and be rewarded for it they have paid off the deficit, invented new technology, made themselves more productive, and made themselves and all us better. It’s really pretty simple but do not mistake that for easy.

 

The rich want to get richer and do it now. The working class wants to work and make us all richer what the EFCA is really about is allowing workers free choice to join and form Unions. These same new union members need to really join and become part of the Union. That means when they become a union member they need to go to the union meetings participate in the union and watch over it so the union dose represent their interests. They need to elect leaders that will see and understand that being elected is a position of responsibility not one of privilege.   Too many broad-brush statements here to take these statements seriously. 

It would seem that big business is accusing the Unions of doing just what they big business have just been caught doing, big bonuses, private jets, big lavish parties, and even bigger corruption. Interesting how AIG, CITI and all these companies are against the unions. Could it be that the Unions are a foundation for our society to be proud of and one we should want to see grow? Current polls show America feels unions are good. Unions are currently growing slowly after years of loss.

Unions can help America again; all the unions are are some people getting together with similar needs and desires to help themselves. Every time an Americans life is a little bit better America is a little bit stronger. Unions are American, America is a UNION.

God Bless America

Brian Cox, President                                                                                                                                         International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers                                                                                                       Local 415, Cheyenne, WY

I still appreciate Brian writing with his views but think he is so biased by his position that he can’t see all the negative consequences that the EFCA will bring.

    

 

   

 

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