Did You Know This About Big Labor?

Katie Gage
April 5, 2011

Yesterday, Big Labor bosses decided to use the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a means to promote collective bargaining.  And while much was said about the rights workers should have to come together and form a union, little to nothing was said about the rights workers should have to come together and dissolve that same collective bargaining unit.  There was also scant mention of Big Labor’s opposition to state right to work laws that give a worker the right not to be a member of a union, pay dues, and support its political and social agenda with which the worker may strongly disagree.

The more one learns about the organizing process espoused by American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) President Richard Trumka the clearer it is that the end is more money and power for labor bosses, not greater rights for workers.  The reasoning is simple, you can’t fairly support the right of workers to organize without supporting the right of those same workers to oust the union.  Yet, that’s exactly the stance held by Trumka and Big Labor bosses.

These actions by labor bosses are largely a function of necessity as the percentage of those in unions has dropped to historic lows with less than seven percent of workers in the private sector.  Today, public sector unions sustain Big Labor but even in the public sector organized labor has seen its numbers fall.  Therefore, every step of the way, union bosses have demanded that government force workers into unions, and behind the scenes they have worked to make the decertification of the union more difficult.

Big Labor uses hundreds of millions of dollars of workers’ union dues not for collective bargaining, but to buy a seat at the table and demand bailouts.

For example, the now lifeless Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act required a card check process for union organizing meaning the workers’ vote would be subject to the scrutiny of third parties and they could be pressured, intimidated, even coerced into supporting the union.  But the law preserved the secret ballot election to decertify the union.

Secondly, the actions of the so-called “independent” National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) demonstrate a decided prejudice in favor of unionization even advocating that small businesses must post a notice about workers’ right to have a union, but nothing about the workers’ right to decertify and remove the union.

Thirdly, and possibly the most obvious example of the disparity between advocacy in favor of certification versus decertification are the actions of another so-called impartial and unbiased government agency namely the National Mediation Board (NMB).

Under the Obama administration, nearly a century of precedent was upended when the NMB set aside majority rule resulting in a policy allowing a minority of workers to decide for the entire workforce whether a collective bargaining unit had been formed.  Just last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of reversing the NMB’s actions, a rare rebuke by Congress of a regulatory agency.

And while the NMB’s actions concerning certification of a union gained attention, little was made about the virtual impossibility of decertifying a collective bargaining unit once created in the airline and railroad industries.  Under the Railway Labor Act – the law that regulates labor relations for railroads and airlines – workers must wait two years after a collective bargaining unit has been certified to begin an effort to decertify with what’s called a “straw man” election.  At least 35 percent of workers must support the effort to decertify the collective bargaining unit and even with that, a vote is not to remove the union, instead workers must support a “straw man” or fictitious organization challenging the union that is in place.  The reality is that a major union in the airline and railroad industries has never been decertified in modern times under these rules.

So, as Americans watch or read news reports about Big Labor’s push in favor of collective bargaining on April 4th, they should ask themselves: if these same union bosses really cared about workers wouldn’t they also stand up for the equal right of workers to end union representation when they conclude it is no longer in their best interests.

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By: Julie Pastrik Arizona businesses and workers have had an incredibly challenging year given the economic slowdown that followed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. However, local businesses and industries across the state are resilient and on the road to a strong recovery that will mean more jobs for Arizona workers and increased economic development to strengthen our communities. That is, as long as Congress does not move forward with potentially devastating legislation that would hurt local employers and employees alike while impeding our state’s economic recovery. Unfortunately, some members of Congress seem determined to do just that by pushing through the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. As harmless as the name may sound, the PRO Act would have serious repercussions for local businesses, particularly smaller ones, while undermining long-standing rights for employees and threatening the growing gig economy that has helped provide much-needed income for so many during this time. Arizona is fortunate to have leaders like Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, who have both refrained from joining the vast majority of their Democratic colleagues in cosponsoring the PRO Act. In a slap in the face to Arizona workers, the PRO Act removes one of the most fundamental rights a worker has when it comes to voting in elections to determine whether to unionize: the secret ballot. Instead, workers could be forced to sign union authorization cards in front of other employees, their employer, or union organizers. This bill would also destroy workers’ right to privacy by allowing unions access to personal information, including their home address and personal phone number. If that doesn’t open the door to union intimidation and harassment, I don’t know what does. As if that was not bad enough, the PRO Act would create major new challenges for Arizona businesses, making it harder for them to create jobs, expand in their communities, and even keep their doors open. It would redefine what it means to be a “joint employer” under national labor law, greatly complicating existing relationships between franchisors and franchisees as well as between business owners, contractors, subcontractors, and vendors and suppliers. At the same time, it would interfere with attorney-client confidentiality and make it much more difficult for small businesses to secure a legal advice on labor issues. Particularly harmful during these times, the PRO Act would apply a failed policy from California to national labor law by using the “ABC” test to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee. This makes it much harder to qualify as an independent contractor, threatening the freedom and flexibility that tens of thousands of Arizonans find in independent contracting and gig economy work. Ultimately, the PRO Act is bad public policy that only works for union leaders to inflate their falling ranks while threatening workers’ rights, undermining small businesses, and jeopardizing a growing part of our economy. This is not a good solution for Arizona, and Senators Sinema and Kelly should stay firm and not cosponsor this misguided legislation.
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