Third Party & Independents Archives

Protecting Who's Interests Exactly?

Today the House of Representatives passed the Employee Free Choice Act. Though it is very doubtful that this bill will ever be passed by the Senate and then survive a promised presidential veto, I’ve been reading up on the bill to determine why it is being implemented and I have to say that the need for this escapes me completely and further makes me wonder just who the supporters of the bill are trying to protect.

The current process for forming a union currently requires that a secret ballot is taken. If the majority of workers vote to unionize from that ballot then a union is formed. This process seems pretty straightforward to me. However, because of charges of employee intimidation, the answer to this dilemma is to allow a union to form if a majority of workers sign cards stating they want a union. No vote is required.

This doesn’t seem like much of a difference on the surface, a majority of people are still voting for the union. What concerns me is that the cards are not ‘secret’. This means that everyone will know how someone votes, either for or against a union. How is this supposed to stop employee intimidation? Doesn’t it actually make it EASIER for employers and even fellow employees to know who is for the union and who is against the union and use all kinds of intimidation methods?

I have still not seen a good explanation of how this is better for the employee. I have seen how this will increase union participation. The San Francisco Chronicle writes that Nancy Pelosi said boosting union membership would help the American economy. Perhaps, perhaps not. But what then was the purpose of the bill? To allow the employees to choose to unionize (or not) or to increase union membership? How does taking away a fundamental need for these ballots to be secret to remove all intimidation of the employee voting from being able to vote their conscious help the worker?

If there are issues with employer intimidation and using the system against the workers, it would makes sense to me to put in checks to ensure that attempts to unionized are not blocked or delayed by management, but this does nothing at all to address those issues. In fact, it really does put a question on the purpose of the bill. Is it really to help the worker or the unions?

The San Francisco Chronicle might help give us a further clue. They write about the speaker and bill’s primary sponsor George Miller’s background with organized labor

Miller received $299,000 in campaign contributions from labor political action committees of his total $667,494 raised during the 2005-2006 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, who has received significant support from labor throughout her congressional career, received $349,000 in union contributions of the $1.7 million she raised during the 2005-06 cycle.

I’m not suggesting that this bill is a payback of sorts for campaign funding (though others are), but more likely these individuals believe very strongly in unions and would like to see participation in unions increase in the US for what they feel will help the economy and working conditions of the worker. It is obvious that the unions feel that these individuals are likely to vote for their best interests. But it seems that they are trying to make that decision FOR the worker, not allowing the employees to determine for themselves, free from individual scrutiny by their coworkers or employers, on what is best for them. Perhaps sometimes what is best for the worker is NOT to unionize?

I would rather we keep the requirement that these ballots must be secret. As I have said, if we need to address specific tactics that are being misused by management to block unions, let’s address them specifically, not take away a necessary protection for the worker while trying to convince them that it’s for their own good. If someone could explain how this helps the individual worker instead of the unions I would be glad to see the logic I am apparently missing.

Posted by Rhinehold at March 2, 2007 2:36 PM
Comment #210206

Rhinehold, To me it seems like a complicated mess either way they go. Perhaps the solution should be to have any company over a certain size automatically become unionized then should the majority of workers decide they dont want a union they could use this method to decertify the union.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 2, 2007 2:55 PM
Comment #210207

Well, it seems that in order to DE-certify a union, a secret ballot is required and demanded by the union. I guess I’m not clear on why unions think it is ok to create a union out in the open but to remove one requires a secret ballot?

It all seems self-serving and in no way a protection of a worker’s rights. I thought that was what the Democrats ran on, helping protect worker’s rights?

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 2, 2007 3:05 PM
Comment #210211

Why would removing the secret ballot “boost union membership?” Why is there this implication that if workers express their opinions in secret, it leads to less union membership?

The answer is coercion and intimidation—preventing workers from voicing their opinions without fear of retaliation.

This ought to be called the “Tony Soprano Act.”

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 2, 2007 3:43 PM
Comment #210214

Perhaps sometimes what is best for the worker is NOT to unionize?

I’m trying to figure out those times. If it were not for labor unions in this country, Americans would not have paid overtime or health insurance. The would be required to work more than a 40-hour/5-day work week for the same pay.

How quickly we forget and take those things for granted. It is no coincidence that the loss of health insurance and abuses of overtime like Wal-Mart’s frequent problems have grown at the same time union power has declined. Before anyone here complains about the details of this legislation and ponders the philosophical abstraction of the Secret Ballot, I want to know exactly where you stand on whether you believe Labor Unions are good for workers or not.

Posted by: Steve K at March 2, 2007 4:00 PM
Comment #210219


In todays work environment this bill effects a very small percentage of American workers. During my working years I always lived in a “Right to Work” state which basically amounts to the employers right to hire and fire at will.

But from 1975 thru 1985 I worked for the government and had three choices: (1)NAPE (Nebraska Association of Public employees), (2)AFSCME, or (3) stand alone. Well, I stood with NAPE, so much so that I became the NAPE representative for that area for several years. NAPE (and myself) did good but had to work within the labor laws of the state.

Now, given your Libertarian roots, this will make your hair stand on end: I think workers in the USA are beyond the help of unionization. America’s workers need “government intervention”! Several years of conservative rule have caused those who actually provide a “service” or “goods” to fall far behind the “money handlers” in the “food chain” and we now need government intervention to restore some degree of balance to the economy.

Is your hair on fire yet? I know you’ll be totally in disagreement with me. But more and more Americans are working their butts off and getting nowhere fast.

Posted by: KansasDem at March 2, 2007 4:29 PM
Comment #210223

I am a totally anti-union guy, so I usually don’t pay attention when they make the news. Unless they are on strike, then I find it funny.

What laws have been passed or done away with during these “several years of conservative rule” which have destroyed our economy and ruined our nation to you?

Sorry if a dumb question, but as I said, I really don’t pay attention when they come up, but if real things have been done to harm them, I would be interested in reading about it some.

Posted by: kctim at March 2, 2007 5:06 PM
Comment #210230


EPI can answer much better than I:

Workers want unions now more than ever

Possibly more important is the widening gap between the rich and the poor, along with the elimination of our middle class:

Since 1980 we have to some degree placed more and more trust in capitalism and time and time again we’ve been screwed. It began with tens of thousands of mentally ill inpatients being thrust into an outpatient environment that was not, and still isn’t, prepared, then a ‘war on drugs’ that was and still is a failure, but the real crème de la crème is the shifting of America’s tax load onto the middle class.

Now we have the war in Iraq that was sold as part of the “war on terror” and each and every American is neck deep in nearly $30,000.00 of public debt. That’s the freeakin’ national debt! The personal savings rate is as low as Depression era rates.

More than half of American citizens are dependent on a Middle Class minority to pay for their health care. (Consider all government employees, elected officials, Medicaid and Medicare recpients, etc.)

I’m not a psychic but I see trouble on the horizon.

Posted by: KansasDem at March 2, 2007 6:14 PM
Comment #210243

“Before anyone here complains about the details of this legislation and ponders the philosophical abstraction of the Secret Ballot, I want to know exactly where you stand on whether you believe Labor Unions are good for workers or not.

Posted by: Steve K at March 2, 2007 04:00 PM”

Sounds rather arrogant of you to frame it that way, but I’ll share my opinion of unions in general. I think unions did a good service in the past and for a limited number of people, they might work now. However for the most part, unions have been too sucessful and worked themselves out of a job.

A union is good if you are too weak to negotiate a contract for yourself.

Posted by: tomd at March 2, 2007 8:09 PM
Comment #210248

Slightly off topic, I think a Detroit reality show with three generations of Union autoworkers would be fascinating. Idealism versus reality. Money versus no money. Lifetime employement versus layoffs. I can’t imagine a more combative discussion of reality than the Thankgiving dinner table after some drinks set in.

Posted by: Honest at March 2, 2007 8:30 PM
Comment #210249
Before anyone here complains about the details of this legislation and ponders the philosophical abstraction of the Secret Ballot, I want to know exactly where you stand on whether you believe Labor Unions are good for workers or not.

Labor unions CAN be good for workers, have done wonderful things in the past, and you can actually advocate for unions from a strongly pro free-market point of view.

Labor unions can also be terrible for workers, though. Especially workers who are barred from working—either literally, or as a side-effect of labor artificially driving up salaries and benefits for the elect few in the unions.

Just as with corporations, the existence of a monopoly on any commodity tends to be harmful, and that’s true of the commodity of labor as well.

Being pro-union does not mean that you have to agree with all union behaviors (including the denial of secret ballots) any more than being pro-business means that you have to support all the actions of every business.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 2, 2007 8:31 PM
Comment #210252
Before anyone here complains about the details of this legislation and ponders the philosophical abstraction of the Secret Ballot, I want to know exactly where you stand on whether you believe Labor Unions are good for workers or not.

Steve K.

Here’s where I stand on whether I believe Labor Unions are good for workers or not.


It depends.

Some unions at some times are good, some unions at some times are not. Some are out for the best interest of the workers they represent and only use their dues to keep that infrastructure going. Others do not represent their workers and suck large union dues to increase their political power.

Do you really think, from what I’m am getting from what you wrote, that ALL unions are good and we need more? We need every worker being part of a union?

So, *I* want to know where *YOU* stand on whether you believe all workers should belong to a Labor Union. And if not, why not?

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 2, 2007 8:36 PM
Comment #210251

“A union is good if you are too weak to negotiate a contract for yourself.”


That statement is ridiculous. Here in Kansas it’s become the “norm” to employ people through ‘day labor’ type agencies. Even semi-skilled laborers are working for what they can get and some “boob” behind a desk is getting part of their pay.

We’re becoming a “no-value-added” society. A large part of our GDP is pimping foreign product and we’re becoming more and more narcissistic. As they say, “the proof is in the pudding”. We’ve seen evidence of major shortfalls in our care of disabled veterans of the war in Iraq.

If we cared that’s what we’d be talking about.

Or the vets would just “stand up for themselves” as you suggest when you say, “A union is good if you are too weak to negotiate a contract for yourself”.

Maybe WE should just tell all of our elected representatives that this is unacceptable and demand immediate change.

Posted by: KansasDem at March 2, 2007 8:36 PM
Comment #210253


How is what tomd said not accurate? If a worker has a highly sought after skill, they can dictate their own better salary though negotiation and demand from management. Those with mid-level skills benefit from labor unions because they would not fair as well in that type of market, their job security and reimbursment for their work is better through the power of the union than it would ever be if they struck out on their own. Low skilled workers end up getting most of their pay taken by the types of temp employment agencies you discuss.

Now, for those highly skilled or sought after workers, a union would be a bad move for them. They could easily make more on their own by having the freedom to change jobs and negotiate more favorable compensation packages. That is the benefit that comes from doing the things it takes to increase your value to the working society.

My father was not that type of person. He was more concerned about security and stability. He was offered several times to move into management and he refused, he did not want the added responsibility, just wanted a fair pay for a hard days work. He was the perfect candidate for a union who would do the work of negotiating with his employers because he did not want that type of headache, etc…

Me, I’m a bit different. My brother and I are about the same age. My dad would never let me work with him but let my 1 year younger brother do so. His reasoning was that my abilities that I had developed in school and opportunities that my hard work at this time allowed me to have meant that I could have more than he did. I would never work well in a union, in fact during the past 10 years my salary has increased 300% and I’m now making twice what my father did when he retired.

Was he a lesser man? Hardly, he was a great man who taught me more about life than I could have ever learned in school. He got what he wanted out of life but knew that I could get more if I wanted them and he made sure that I had the opportunity to get there. My brother is still working at the same job my father did, he makes a bit more than my father did when he retired but still a bit less than I do. He works hard and is a good man. His union helps him out tremendously and he doesn’t want the responsibility of dealing with the things that I have to do in order to make the money I do. It’s not worth it to him. It is to me.

So, the ‘one size fits all’ nonsense that the left want to make the labor force out to be is nothing but a wedge issue, rhetoric used to try to force people who disagree with them to cower and hide, afraid to fight those who ‘represent’ themselves as caring for the worker. But as this law shows, they care very little for the worker and much more for the political points and power that they can gain by EXPLOITING those workers, just as the large corporations do, only at least big business is open and honest about it.

So before anyone attempts to browbeat me into ‘covering before your caring ways’ get over yourselves and get down talking about the facts and realities of the situation instead of blowing rhetoric garbage up my …

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 2, 2007 8:49 PM
Comment #210255

BTW, I have put myself through several years of schooling, specialized training and worked two jobs at once while making myself available to the type of work I do now. I did NOT just fall into it. I went through the Navy, worked at McDonald’s, accepted less than minimum wage as a janitor at one point when I was starting out. I worked two jobs for years until I finally was able to move into the field I had been training for for years. Those years working at ‘lesser jobs’ taught me a lot about myself and built my resume so that I could move into where I am now. Everyone else who is willing to do the work and take the chances to do what needs to be done to advance can, I’ve proven it.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 2, 2007 8:55 PM
Comment #210261

We should not lose sight of the real issue here. We can disagree about whether or not a union is appropriate in a particular situaion.

What should be clear is that all honest people believe that the best way to conduct an election is with a secret ballot. It is the secret ballot that protects the worker both from evil and corrupt employers AND from evil and corrupt unions. Let those involved choose freely and w/o threats. That is what the Dems want to take away.

No matter what your opinion about unions, the Dem’s corrupt bargain is deplorable. We are lucky that the president will check their craven cave in.

Posted by: Jack at March 2, 2007 9:36 PM
Comment #210263

Rhinehold, because you did, DOES NOT mean everyone can. There is this thing called individual differences and even a cursory review of the field of psychology will inform that those individual differences in metabolism, genetics, childhood experiences, schools, family members, socio-economic status all play a part in whether or not people are motivate to mark success by wealth. Vast numbers of Americans do NOT mark success by either wealth or the job they do. Work is a means to other ends for most working Americans. Not an end in itself.

Ergo, not everyone is a spittin’ image of you, and therefore their potential is very different from yours. Many a very talented and successful person has never become wealthy by their talent or success.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 2, 2007 9:51 PM
Comment #210265


I thought that was the point of my story… ? My father and brother are happy and successful in their own right, they didn’t go after financial compensation to measure their success.

Where on earth did I suggest that anyone who doesn’t is somehow a failure? I only pointed out that those people are the ones who often times benefit from a union while those willing to take the risks and work harder will benefit more on their own…

What is wrong about that assessment?

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 2, 2007 9:54 PM
Comment #210266

David, those are nice sentiments, but Rhinegold wasn’t saying that he defines his ultimate success as a human being by his job or his wealth. He was talking about his success in his work life.

I would suggest though that those who do not (as you correctly characterize many people) define success by their jobs or bank accounts need to keep right on defining success by other means and not insist that others give them jobs and money.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 2, 2007 10:05 PM
Comment #210269

BTW, this discussion about unions is nice, but I don’t think anywhere in my article or since did I say that there should be no unions.

What I want to know, and no one has attempted to answer is: Why does it make sense to remove the requirement that votes to form unions be made in secret? How does it help the individual worker who now will be forced to divulge how he feels about a union forming to his coworkers and employer?

“Hey Joe, why not sign this card?” “Well, I would rather wait until the secret election.” “Why? Because you are voting against it? If you were voting for it you wouldn’t have a problem signing this card right now…”

Please, please, please… SOMEONE explain it to me? I was perusing DailyKOS today and everyone was talking about how ‘the republicans are already starting to use this argument and it has traction so don’t fall for it…’ but why not? Why not just give the good valid logical reason why it makes sense?

I just want to understand. Without rhetoric and accusations of being worker-unfriendly. Can someone do that for me?

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 2, 2007 10:39 PM
Comment #210270


I never meant for any of this to get personal.

I tend to get defensive because I am dependent on you. I also know from past experience that employers are more likely to pay what they must rather than what’s fair.

This nonsense that a worker can negotiate on his or her own is just that: pure nonsense! My daughter is working in what could best be called “middle” middle management and she’d love to raise wages but that’s not her call. Turnover makes her job tougher but she’s still making big bucks.

My oldest son farms and has a “break even” hog operation and he’s trying to break into a cattle op, but he has to work a full time job. Five years ago he was making the equivalent of $15.00 an hour because he knows CAD. Now he’s working for $9.00 an hour assembling mowing machines.

I know that’s happening with a lot of folks around here. We’re slipping big time. It’s not personal it’s REAL.

Posted by: KansasDem at March 2, 2007 10:44 PM
Comment #210272

KansasDem, the debate here seems to be slipping unnecessarily into one about the merits and the very existence of labor unions.

This bill is not about that. It’s about whether or not a worker should be allowed to have privacy and freedom from coercison when he votes for or against unionizing. If has pro-union feelings, there is absolutely nothing under the current system preventing him from expressing exactly that in a secret ballot.

Considering the history of actual physical violence when it comes to both anti-union and pro-union activities, why should the secret ballot be abolished? Why would anybody even WANT it abolished unless they intend to intimidate and threaten voters? There is absolutely no justification for it unless somebody has sinister intentions against instead of for those workers.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 2, 2007 11:10 PM
Comment #210277


I’m fully aware of the privacy issue.

Did you read my first response?

I think this is another “feel good” bill to win votes. I’d go much further. We need government intervention far beyond union support and minimum wage. we need a federal wage control because corporate America doesn’t “do right”.

If any private entity does a really crappy job of policing itself then it will, sooner or later, end up being policed by the vast majority. Look, even though few of us have ever worked in mines we were shocked to find that mine safety had gone down the crapper when the government got lax on controls.

It still hasn’t really improved under Republican control. That’s one small block in the electorate. the conservatives keep whittling away at this group and that group and sooner or later we will swing back to the left. The further right we go before then will determine how far left we go next time.

It may take longer this time because more and more Americans are becoming narcissistic. These are real life “things”. It is happening! 35 years ago we’d have seen massive protests over the conditions at Walter Reed. Now we wait to see what’s happening on the news.

Posted by: KansasDem at March 2, 2007 11:53 PM
Comment #210284

I believe that there is a simple answer to your question. If this bill were to become law, the process for organization of a union would become polluted and be tilted in the favor of the international unions. The secret ballot is the only major local check in the entire process and removing it would eliminate the major hurdle that the international unions cant seem to clear.

Organizing is not as simple as having a vote. I sat on an Organizing Committee for the UAW at a tier one supplier for the automotive industry and the process was very involved. First we had an information meeting with the UAW. They outlined what we had to do and gave us the tips and tools to do the job. Then we had to circulate a petition requesting the DOL to hold a vote to allow the UAW to negotiate a contract for us. But before the UAW would submit the petition for us, they required that 75% of our labor pool sign the petition. Also, 75% of our labor pool had to sign a pledge card stating that they would vote for the union(we achieved 90%). Then the petition was then submitted to the DOL and a vote was held within 30 days. The union was voted down by a 20% margin.

The Committee was dismayed about the outcome of the vote. We had our last meeting with the UAW and they explained that we had actually done better than average with the amount of votes that we got on a first attempt. They knew through experience that peer pressure and can work only when the peer is standing in front of you. But when a man or woman stands in a booth with only a ballot and their conscience, the outcome is predictable.

I submit that if this bill becomes law, union membership will grow rapidly, and it will do so without the consent of the vast majority of new members. I also submit that attempted gift to unions would do nothing to solve the cause of decreased union membership, but only treat the symptom.

Posted by: submarinesforever at March 3, 2007 12:39 AM
Comment #210285

It sure looks to me like the Democratic bill has been misrepresented here and on Jacks post.

The best explaination I’ve seen is here;

In particuliar;

Q: Why aren’t secret ballot elections supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) more democratic than majority sign-up procedures?

A: NLRB elections are actually less democratic than majority sign-up procedures. majority sign-up procedures are better at ensuring employee free choice by allowing employees to express their true wishes free from employer coercion. Majority sign-up procedures avoid the anti-democratic and inherently coercive anti-union campaigns that are typical of the NLRB election process. See our majority sign-up fact sheet for more information on the problems with NLRB elections.

Q: How do majority sign-up procedures protect employees against pressure and coercion by union organizers?

A: It is illegal for anyone to coerce employees to sign a union authorization form. There is no evidence that existing remedies are insufficient to deter or remedy such coercion. Nor has pro-union coercion proved to be a problem in the Canadian provinces where majority sign-up procedures similar to those of the Employee Free Choice Act have been implemented.

Posted by: muirgeo at March 3, 2007 1:29 AM
Comment #210289

Workers that are not unionized do not have rights, they have privileges granted by the employer. The rights and privleges of workers have been reduced by laws enacted during the repubs reign in this country since the days of Regan. This is but one small step in leveling the playing field.
All of our trade agreements should include the protection of workers and the environment. Of course they dont, and this is one of the main reasons the manufacturing jobs in this country are being sent overseas. If the playing field was level American workers could compete, unfortunetly the Multinational corporations dont want a level playing field. Therefore unions are needed and should be encouraged and supported not just in this country but worldwide.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 3, 2007 2:58 AM
Comment #210291

“I tend to get defensive because I am dependent on you.”

That statement pretty well sums it up.

Posted by: tomd at March 3, 2007 3:25 AM
Comment #210292

Can some one show me that the ballot cast under the new law is not secret/ confidential?

As far as I can see it looks like the right side of the isle is mis representing the facts…again…claiming this takes away the rights of the employees and opens them up to intimidation from the union itself. That is apparently BS and its a darn shame that republicans can only win through misrepresenting their position and the facts.

If the employees want to unionize they should be allowed to with out jumping through hoops. This bill siimply streamlines the process. Seems good to me.

Posted by: muirgeo at March 3, 2007 3:57 AM
Comment #210301


What part of secret do you not understand? If the union boss brings a card and stands there while you sign it, then takes it with him that is very different from you going into a both, privately checking your preference and having a third party collect and count the ballots.


Dems talk a lot about intimidation at the polls. They claim that the mere presence of police intimidates some sorts of Dem voters. But in ALL these cases, nobody knows how the person voted.

In the case of a union card, you are signing or not in the presence of a union man who knows how you voted. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see how that can work.

I personally have been threatened by union thugs. If you read what I wrote on the other side, you can see that they never said anything that you could directly call a threat. It is like the mob guy coming into your shop and saying that he hopes nothing bad happens to you.

If you do not believe in the secret ballot and a fair election, I suppose you can support the Dem position on this.

Posted by: Jack at March 3, 2007 8:51 AM
Comment #210307

A few comments and I apologize for not taking (having) the time to read everything thoroughly. Sure, my comment is a bit arrogant. But I feel very strongly about this topic. Everyone can point to a “bad” union — that is too often the public image. They make movies about Jimmy Hoffa, but none about Walter Reuther. When we enter an age where people question whether a union is good or bad for the worker, we enter an age where workers are supposed to trust their employers. For every Jimmy Hoffa out there I can point out the abuses or Wal-Mart or Enron and what they did (and still do) to their workers.

As long as their are businesses who abuse employees, there need to be unions. And as long as employers harrass workers who are trying to hold a vote (documented cases have been rising in recent years), then the secret vote stops working and you need another way to hold an election. Amazing how so many conservatives rally against “fraud and abuse” in our government elections but are silent when businesses intimidate workers who are trying to hold an election.

Posted by: Steve K at March 3, 2007 10:34 AM
Comment #210313

A majority have to sign cards to get to the secret ballot now. The Employee Free Choice Act doesn’t abolish elections. It adds another option for workers who want to organize. Nothing is being taken away except the companies’ ability to intimidate the workers.

Posted by: traveller at March 3, 2007 10:54 AM
Comment #210319

Here are 10 key facts about why this legislation is necessary and links to more info.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 3, 2007 11:30 AM
Comment #210327

Excellent link, Adrienne. From the site, this link is key.

“Ninety-two percent of private-sector employers, when faced with employees who want to join together in a union, force employees to attend closed-door meetings to hear anti-union propaganda; 80 percent require supervisors to attend training sessions on attacking unions; and 78 percent require that supervisors deliver anti-union messages to workers they oversee. “

Posted by: SteveK at March 3, 2007 12:19 PM
Comment #210329


That is exactly the point. AFTER workers express interest, we ask them if they want the union. The answer might be no, especially if they have time to think it over and learn more re the potential costs of union membership in terms of jobs & hassle.

Posted by: Jack at March 3, 2007 12:46 PM
Comment #210330


What do you mean by anti-union messages? If an employer says that the union will drive up costs and may result in lost jobs, he is just laying out facts that unions may like to keep hidden.

What the union activists want is a one-way conversation. They want to be declared winner before the debate and w/o an election.

Posted by: Jack at March 3, 2007 12:51 PM
Comment #210332
Rhinehold wrote: What I want to know, and no one has attempted to answer is: Why does it make sense to remove the requirement that votes to form unions be made in secret? How does it help the individual worker who now will be forced to divulge how he feels about a union forming to his coworkers and employer?
It doesn’t appear to make any sense to remove the secrecy of the ballot.

It may increase votes to unionize via intimidation and fear.

KansasDem wrote: I think workers in the USA are beyond the help of unionization.
With globalization, that is increasingly true (but not 100%).
KansasDem wrote: America’s workers need “government intervention”!
Perhaps. What kind of intervention? Government should:
  • protect the right to unionize
  • enforce anti-trust laws to prevent the well-known tactics of monopolies to destroy competition.
  • enforce laws against discrimination based on anything other than qualification and experience
Beyond that, I’m not sure what the government can do that wouldn’t be over-reaching the states’ rights to decide these things. My state is also a right-to-work state. Forced unionism strikes me as too controlling, but half the states do that. Posted by: d.a.n at March 3, 2007 1:18 PM
Comment #210338

Ah, a cut and paste from the Advocacy group American Rights at Work is the best anyone has been able to do to explain why the ballot process should NOT be secret?

Fine, let’s examine those two specifics that were mentioned in the FAQ that was quoted here.

Q: Why aren’t secret ballot elections supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) more democratic than majority sign-up procedures?

A: NLRB elections are actually less democratic than majority sign-up procedures. majority sign-up procedures are better at ensuring employee free choice by allowing employees to express their true wishes free from employer coercion. Majority sign-up procedures avoid the anti-democratic and inherently coercive anti-union campaigns that are typical of the NLRB election process. See our majority sign-up fact sheet for more information on the problems with NLRB elections.

You see, they never say WHY having a secret ballot is less democratic. They just make the statement that it is. SO, are they saying that our current process of electing officials is less democratic than a pollster coming around to our houses on Election Day and asking us, in public, who we want to vote for? What logic does this make? Absolutely none.

*IF* there are problems with the NLRB, which I’ve never heard before, then we should do something to meet those concerns. BUT how is taking away a fundamental assurance that FAIR and FREE elections are those that are done with a secret ballot?

Q: How do majority sign-up procedures protect employees against pressure and coercion by union organizers?

A: It is illegal for anyone to coerce employees to sign a union authorization form. There is no evidence that existing remedies are insufficient to deter or remedy such coercion. Nor has pro-union coercion proved to be a problem in the Canadian provinces where majority sign-up procedures similar to those of the Employee Free Choice Act have been implemented.

Yes, and it is illegal for an employer to coerce anyone to vote against a union. BUT IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME, which is why the votes should and MUST be secret. What is more, the same people claiming that there should NOT be secret elections because they are ‘less democratic’ (which is the most asinine argument I’ve ever heard anyone utter) are the same people who demand that the DE-unionization process MUST be done with a secret ballot.

There may be a problem with the process as it stands, I don’t know, that’s a different debate. If there is then let’s do things to actually streamline the process, perhaps provide a law that states that after a call for unionization occurs the election must take place, offsite, within 1 week. That would prevent year long delays, etc, that opponents are complaining about. Instead, the remedy is to eliminate the need for a secret vote, they ONLY way that we can guarantee that the person voting is voting without coercion from anyone…

To me this just proves that the current democratic leadership in the congress is incapable of actually doing something constructive. They have taken a law that might actually be a good law and then ruin it with a single illogical requirement that a secret ballot is no longer ‘necessary’ for ensuring democracy, in fact they say that having a non-secret ballot is MORE democratic?

So, we have one person who use a cut & paste method from a group who doesn’t believe that secret ballots are democratic to answer the question. I asked someone to use non-rhetoric, logical arguments regarding WHY we should abandon the use of secret votes and still no one has been able to do so.

If it is so obvious, why is it so hard for someone to use their own words to explain logically why allowing non-secret votes to determine something so important is OK other than it will create more unions. And why will it create more unions?

My view of the current crop of democrats in the congress is getting more and more tarnished as they continue to meander and stumble through their leadership and help ensure that they lose their majority in 2008.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 3, 2007 2:29 PM
Comment #210342


This secret ballot thing is merely another way to change the subject. Republicans know corporations have discharged workers whenever they talked about a union. They also know that the NLRB has been emasculated as a protector of workers and unions.

And they like corporations being in charge even though they too have unions. Yes, indeed. What is the Round Table if not a union of corporations? What is the National Association of Manufacturers if not a union of corporations? Do not these unions work for the benefit of their member corporations?

If unions are OK for corporations, why not for workers? And don’t tell me about union corruption. There’s plenty of corruptpion in these organizations as well.

It’s time for a little fairness. Let’s make it easier for workers to form a union.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at March 3, 2007 2:44 PM
Comment #210345


Ignoring the secret ballot thing is merely another way to change the subject.

The subject is, why was this law passed with the removal of the requirement for a secret ballot. Why couldn’t this law have been passed with the secret ballot still made intact?

I have never argued against unions. They exist and provide a valued service to those that they help. Not everyone wants or needs them. That is why they are not mandatory and why a specific process is in place to ensure that everyone is able to vote for them with a clear conscience.

So why the need felt to remove the requirement that a secret ballot be taken?

And let me ask you a followup, if Bush pushed through a law next week saying that presidential elections would be held by pollsters going to each house in the US and asking them who they wanted to vote for, would you say it was a good law or a bad law and why?

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 3, 2007 2:52 PM
Comment #210365

In the case of a union card, you are signing or not in the presence of a union man who knows how you voted. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see how that can work.

Posted by: Jack

Who says you have to sign it in any ones presence? And any such coercion would be illegal.

The “secret” ballot is obviously just a way for the union to delay stall and intimidate.

Don’t just tell us about an experience you had back up your claim that you have to sign it in front of a union boss.

Posted by: muirgeo at March 3, 2007 5:33 PM
Comment #210367

“So why the need felt to remove the requirement that a secret ballot be taken?” Rhineholt

Admittedly cut and pasted from various links from above. But having read the text of the bill these statement s are supported by it.

Under the NLRB election process, delays of months and even years are common, during which management uses every imaginable procedural option to stretch out the process and frustrate the desire of employees to form a union.

Under the NLRB election process, management has almost unlimited and mandatory access to employees, while union supporters have almost none. This would be the equivalent, in a congressional election, of one candidate owning all the local print and broadcast media outlets and denying the candidate’s opponent any access to media

Under the NLRB election process, management has total access to a complete and accurate list of employees at all times, while union supporters may have access very late in the process to a list that is often intentionally inaccurate.

Under the current system employers are under no obligation to recognize a union even if 100 percent of employees have signed such authorization forms.

The principal difference with current law is that the union must be certified when authorization forms have been signed by a majority of employees, whereas under current law the employer can refuse to recognize the union and insist instead on an NLRB election.

And let me ask you a followup, if Bush pushed through a law next week saying that presidential elections would be held by pollsters going to each house in the US and asking them who they wanted to vote for, would you say it was a good law or a bad law and why? Rhinehold

Humm….I think he kinda DID do that. And yes it was wrong and NO this is not representative of how majority sign up would work. It is more representative of Republicans usual attempts to win an argument or issue by being dishonest.

The bottom line here is one side is being terribly misleading. For all my reading it seems obvious its the Republicans. And what a coincidence they are the side that happens to be anti-union.

Posted by: muirgeo at March 3, 2007 6:09 PM
Comment #210369

OK Republicans, here’s a compromise I offer on the secret ballot issue: the labor movement will agree to only a secret ballot for union representation if management agrees that every business will hold that secret ballot every two years — just like the good old secret ballots for government Republicans already support. Deal?

Posted by: Steve K at March 3, 2007 6:23 PM
Comment #210373

Though not a republican, I could go with your idea of a secret ballot every 2 years. If a union was voted in, they damn sure better support their members or their support level might drop to less than 50% at the next election and the process would have to start all over again.

Posted by: tomd at March 3, 2007 6:37 PM
Comment #210374
Who says you have to sign it in any ones presence? And any such coercion would be illegal.

Isn’t that the point? A union organizer under the proposed system can present you with a ballot, say “Here, sign this,” and if you say you want to think about it or take the ballot and vote in private he’ll know at the very least that you’re wavering. And what’s to stop him then from letting others know as well?

Any such coercions would be illegal? Again, that’s the point. This proposed measure makes it legal.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 3, 2007 6:40 PM
Comment #210383


Do the cards need to be signed in secret. In fact, is it possible to sign “no” on the card at all?

Steve K

I guess we could have a secret ballot every two years re whether to authorize or decertify a union, but that would be very expensive.

I also do not think the union would go for this every two years.

Posted by: Jack at March 3, 2007 7:55 PM
Comment #210384

Unions aren’t the answer for America’s economy. In fact the answer is just the opposite.
It would stand to reason that the Democrats, who are heavily back by the unions, and the unions would want to do away with the secret ballot. That way the unions can identify those that voted against them and intimidate them into voting for them next time. Or maybe they’re counting on the fact that the union would have access to the information would be enough to intimidate employees from voting against them in the first place.

Posted by: Ron Brown at March 3, 2007 8:19 PM
Comment #210399

There’s no way unions would agree to subject themselves to a decertification vote every two years.

But that’s irrelevant. If the unions want a mandated vote every two years, why don’t they ask their friends in Congress for one? Fact is, that’s not what they’re asking for. They’re asking to abolish secret ballots in order to police workers and enforce their will. The good news is that it will never happen because George Bush will veto it.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 3, 2007 10:01 PM
Comment #210425

Ron, Unions have raised the American standard of living for years. They have their problems but no more so then the business community as a whole. Maybe for you they dont have a good impact but if you would have competition for your workers perhaps their standard of living would improve.

Afterall its the American businessman that has let this Country down for the past 2 decades. The Corporations has abused their power and have created an income disparity by influencing the laws of this nation unfairly. They have sold this Country out for profits. The small business have allowed the corporations to hide behind them to decieve the American public. It is time to level the playing field for all Americans not just the corporate connected few.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 3, 2007 11:44 PM
Comment #210431

I would think a better proposal for both the union and the corporation, when it comes to re-certifying the union, would be to make the vote to recertify at the same time frame as the corporate charter comes up for renewal. Seems to me that would level the playing field for both sides.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 3, 2007 11:59 PM
Comment #210435


Who would vote on this corporate thing and what would they vote about? It probably would not help the workers to drive their employer out of business.

You have to get the process straight. The firm makes the money. The union helps divide it up. W/o the firm, there can be no union, but w/o the union the firm suffers not at all.

That is one of those power things you really cannot change. The firm is the goose that lays the golden eggs. If the union kills the firm, it doesn’t get anymore eggs.

Posted by: Jack at March 4, 2007 12:24 AM
Comment #210447

Jack, certainly you are right , the companies sales and management types gets the business and organize the work, the worker bees do the work, the shareholders provide the capital to make the business successful.
However their are corporations that IMHO should be ran out of business. They are unethical etc.. Unions of course being a group of human beings just like the copporation are sometimes as bad or worse. Then they to should be ran out of business.
Right now the corporations have altered the rules to their favor to such a degree that I find them as a group , well I dont think much of them right now. My point in the previous post was why should it be just the unions that have to measure up and be accountable, why not the corporation to. Should one corporation fall out of the game others can and should be chartered to take its place. I just feel that we the people should have a say in the chartering of a corporation when they run afoul.

Now I realize that the free market should take care of that but I really dont see the market doing that. In fact I see just the opposite taking place the market seems to band to gether to protect the offending party. As you can see from my previous posts I like a level playing field for each of us to have a chance to be successful at our calling. So when the rules get to favoring one side over the other I usually take up with the underdog.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 4, 2007 2:09 AM
Comment #210450

The workers can decertify any time they want by electing a decertification slate of candidates.

Posted by: Steve K at March 4, 2007 8:58 AM
Comment #210459


What is your concept of business. “should be chartered to take their place”. this sounds like mercantilism like they practiced in France during the time of Louis XIV. Nobody charters firms to get into business. Firms get into business or not. It is not like someone can choose from among the candidates and give them the charter. Kings used to do this. We free people do not.

Corporations always are falling out of the game and being replaced by others. Of all the original Dow Jones firms only ONE - GE - is still there.

This whole union discussion on both sides has really opened my eyes to some of the old ideas that are still around. We have the guilds, where members are allowed to intimidate outsiders. We have mercantilism, where some authority decides how to divide the market. We have tribalism, where a leader just has to gather a bunch of supports and then can avoid a secret ballot election.

I understand unions are old thinkng but I thought the world view might be less than 100 years old.

Posted by: Jack at March 4, 2007 10:21 AM
Comment #210460

Fundamentally, one cannot know if the tally of a vote is accurate and fair UNLESS the vote tally process and accountability for each person who votes is an open and public process.

Everything else is political maneuvering and gaming of the ballot process for unfair advantage.

The way to fix this whole situation is to criminalize intimidation by management of union activity and make it illegal for any union leader to be compensated as a union representative other than actual receipted expenses for legitimate union activities, beyond a level of pay equal to the highest salary of a union worker.

In other words, take compensation as incentive out of the role of union leadership, and criminalize management violation of legal union rights, and collective bargaining can work for both management and workers for the most part.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 4, 2007 10:26 AM
Comment #210464


In general practice it would seem that a secret ballot would be the fairest way to conduct any election. As has been stated here allready the current procedure of unionizing often takes a long time. It is this extended time period which gives management, not the union, the time to intimidate, threaten, harrass and maybe replace workers who are in support of unionizing. The fact that union membership is declining so rapidly supports this scenario. The threat of loosing ones job or the pressure of being constantly singled out and harrased on a daily basis is very intimidating and wieghs on ones psyche over a period of time. Needless to say such managerial tactics are very succesful in swaying unionizing votes. It is the loss of this necesary time frame that business and republicans who support business over the workers are concerned about. It could be devastating in that the loss of that coersion necesary to sway the votes would result in the advent of the growth of unions as opposed to the decline.

Unions, union workers and those who feel they are in need of a union realize the obstacles of current procedure. They feel that this change in procedure will expidite the process without having to deal with the repurcussions of the unethical practices of the goose who lays the golden eggs as Jack puts it. The strength of unions lies in numbers. Without those numbers thier ability to deal with businesses is weakened.

This notion that unions will now be able to intimidate the workers into voting for certification is nothing more than a republican ploy to try and swing the argument in their favor. It is ridiculous at best. If employees are seeking unionization it is generally becuase they feel there is a real need for it. It is because there are real problems at their respective workplaces and management is not doing enough to satisfy those problems. Under these conditions there is no need for union coersion. It is the practices of the respective business which has created the need. If all business fairly compensated and treated their employees there would be no need for organization. Unfortunately this is not the case in most scenarios. We simply need the unions to level the playing field.

This is not rocket science. There is an easy anserw. I think maybe you just do not want to hear it. The solution may not be perfect. But apparently those who are affected by it most feel it is the best anserw at the moment.

The republican legislature will fight it, our pro business president will veto it. But a new and more powerful democratic legislature will most likely put it thru in the near future. I think at present it has probably served its purpose to draw awareness to a growing problem. A few steps backwards under one party and a few steps forward under another.

Posted by: ILdem at March 4, 2007 11:16 AM
Comment #210470


We disagree about what those affected most want and how to know that.

If those affected most vote for a union, they should get one. You want to bypass the election part and move right to what you think they want. I just want to give them the chance to say yes or no.

Even leaving out union intimidation & peer pressure, people often change their minds when they give it a little more thought. That is why opinion polls vary so much. Opinion might vary from, for example, 60% for to 60% against and several percentages in between. We have to choose a particular time to call it the decision. What you are asking is that the union gets to choose whenever they can get what they want. Worse it is cumulative.

How about this: The union can give out the card and ask workers to send them in. Nobody is allowed to collect cards. Workers sign the cards and send in their cards as individuals via US mail service. The envelops are sealed until the authorities look at them. If the workers want the union, they will send in the cards. The authorities can verify that the votes are from actual employee and that nobody has voted more than once. You would also need to provide a “no” option, so that workers who feel they have to send in something can do so. If more than half of the total employees sends in a “yes” card, the union would be recognized.

You just cannot believe that most people do not want unions. I can tell you one very important reason why they may not - seniority. A young worker really gets cheated by this simple rule. Unions are good for those already established or those who are uncomfortable with change - often older workers. They are not as good for new workers or those who want to do things differently - young workers.

Unions are old thinking in more ways than one.

Posted by: Jack at March 4, 2007 1:27 PM
Comment #210476

Jack, The charter I refer to is the articles of incorporation. They are files with a state the the corporation is incorported in. There are rules a corporation must follow. When they dont Im suggesting their articles of incorporation be revoked. Yes its at least 100 years old. In fact our fore fathers had a party in Boston harbor regarding corporations, Tea being the issue at the time. Kings went out of favor around that time here in this Country although…..

Posted by: j2t2 at March 4, 2007 1:57 PM
Comment #210480

Jack, when you say “unions are old thinking in more ways than one” are you refering to the pre-gilded age or the post gilded age thinking of the old law the dems are trying to fix?

Posted by: j2t2 at March 4, 2007 2:24 PM
Comment #210489


The party was about the tax, not the profit and the monopoly status granted by the crown was a contributing problem. That was that mercantile thing.

I understand about the articles of incorporation. You need to understand that the government cannot treat corporations like employees. It cannot replace one with another.

Re old thinking, I am refering to the mercantile idea and the tribal idea you guys are promoting.

I believe in individual rights. I want to give workers the free choice. I want to protect the right to a secret ballot. That is also an older idea, but it still applies. The mercantile/tribal idea is an old an obsolete one.

Posted by: Jack at March 4, 2007 3:51 PM
Comment #210491

It used to be that most employers were individual or proprietary employers, who lived and made their livings in pretty much the same place as their employees.

Now employers tend to be corporate, operate not merely interstate but often internationally, and exist as collective entities with great financial resources.

Employers have far greater capabilities nowadays to drive down employee’s wages and it shows. This can be detrimental to the economy, creating a castle society of economic peons and aristocrats. Markets, particularly consumer markets, rely on people having disposable income. To some extent, the government can intervene, but in general, it should be the employees who tend to their own needs.

Therefore, the need for unions.

I favor taking government out as the middleman. The employer should not be appealing to the government when the majority of workers have already decided they want to unionize.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 4, 2007 4:10 PM
Comment #210495

Jack, the protection of individuals rights is certainly admirable, where were you and all the other repubs when the individuals were being fired for wanting a union, being intimidated for no other reason than the union was asking to be certified, when the corporate thugs were beating those in favor of the unions…?
I think you were all looking out for the best interest of the corporations. I dont really buy into this sudden surge of support for individual rights Im seeing as the arguement against this new law. In fact the same group of people that were so willing to give up individual rights when this administration decided it needed to spy on Americans and get rid of Habeus Corpus are only now speaking out for individual rights, but only when it benefits the corporations. Am I not seeing the whole picture?

Posted by: j2t2 at March 4, 2007 4:49 PM
Comment #210497

There was a day when unions did do a lot of good. But those days have been over sense WWII. All they’ve done sense WWII is look out for their own interest and screw their members as well as business. Hell there business themselves. And all they’re after is profit.
Would you pay someone $20/hr to put a bolt in all day? Thanks to the UAW the big three are.
Would you want to have to build a jacket on an employee that won’t do their job in order to fire them? Thanks to the unions a lot of employers have to.
Would you want to have to hire 2 to 3 employees to get the same amount of work done you used to with 1 employee? Thanks to unions a lot of employers have to.
Would you like to have your employees threaten to strike every 3 to 5 years? Even before they tell you what they want? Thanks to unions it happens all the time.
No j2t2 unions aren’t the answer at all. They’re the reason American products cost so much compared to imported products.
They’re also the reason so many American companies are outsourcing to foreign countries.

Posted by: Ron Brown at March 4, 2007 5:07 PM
Comment #210498

The way I see it this bill not only opens the door for the unions to intimidate employees but for employers to intimidate them too. And neither one helps the employees any.
The secret ballot was designed to make it harder to intimidate the employees into voting one way or another.

Posted by: Ron Brown at March 4, 2007 5:18 PM
Comment #210504


WHEN a majority of employees decide then the government should get out. I agree. That is what I have been writing. I know you guys think you know what other people want. I do not believe you are I do. That is why we need to ask them.


Yeah. It is a little surprising to me too. You are against motioring of terrorist communications on the hypothetical chance that an American citizen or someone in the U.S. would be impacted. You are against compling financial data to trace terror transactions because of the hypotheical possibility that someone’s credit card balance will be known. You complain that voters were intimidated in Ohio or Florida by the mere presence of authorities who looked like Republicans, even when they had a secret ballot. And yet you want to take away the secret ballot from workers and have faith everyone will be honest.

Posted by: Jack at March 4, 2007 6:22 PM
Comment #210507

Jack. Im not against legal monitoring of terrorist communications I am against illegal monitoring of individuals with American citizenship private communications without judicial oversight. Get a court order based upon evidene of wrongdoing and I will be on your side.
JAck. I dont want to take anything away from American workers, I want to give them a chance to unionize. The secret ballot law was a means of taking away the opportunity to unionize. The repubs crafted this law, passed this law, and forced the American worker to live with this law at the point of a gun! They allowed the American worker to be terrorized by corporate thugs in attempt to gain profit for the elite in this country. Now the downtrodden unions are simply asking for an oppotunity to unionize American workers, surely Jack, your not against opportunity:)!

Posted by: j2t2 at March 4, 2007 6:47 PM
Comment #210511

Ron, the unions are not the cause of the outsourcing problem they are the effect of the problem. The cause is the corporatist control of this country since Reagan. Those American based corporations that have sold this country out are the cause. They have decided to take manufacturing to the low cost countries such as communist China because there were no environmental nor workers rights laws. They found that they could produce their goods and ship them back to this country cheaper than producing them in this country. Slave wages and low living standards are not the concern of these corporations. They caused trade agreements they promoted the low costs countries and their workforce at the expense of the American worker and the American people. They do not care about our living standards nor about our small businesses that are not selling out this country. The corporatist have by trade agreement not included environemental and workers rights in these agreements which will keep the low costs countries at lower living standards despite rhetoric to the contrary. The only group of people fighting this disgrace is the unions. They are needed more than ever, most of us just dont realize it as we are caught up in the new economy rhetoric.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 4, 2007 7:28 PM
Comment #210514


“We disagree about what those affected most want and how to know that.

If those affected most vote for a union, they should get one. You want to bypass the election rpart and move right to what you think they want. I just want to give them the chance to say yes or no.”

I believe I get the jist of your concern here. Your statement implies that the union is just going to show up at a meeting location one day, present the offer to unionize and demand a vote immeadiately. This is not the reality. The process involves meetings in private among the employees. Pre vote meetings with the union. And yet another meeting afterwards to determine as a group, away from union officials, if unionizing is what they want. If so then the union will step in at the request of the workers and administer the vote. Generally the union will not bother if it is not determined before hand that the majority are truly interested in unionizing. The time frames between all these meetings is generally more than adequate time for those with doubts to make an individual decision one way or the other. I do not see how this is denying anyone a chance at saying yes or no. I can not say that the latter is the exact and correct process for all unionizing votes. But I submit it to make a point. I am of the impression that under this new scenario if a majority sign the acceptance card that is the same as a yes vote. If they do not sign, that is the same as a no vote. All votes that I participated in were always done at a private level. Nobody ever stood over us and monitored our vote. I honestly do not see the concern. If the percentage needed to certify a union is accomplished then those who voted against are really of no importance as the majority decided it was necesaary. I think it stands to reason that if the majority feels the need there probably is honest and viable reason for unionizing. Perhaps all that is needed to satisfy your concerns is a seperate party with no union or management ties present at the time of the acceptance signing to determine that all is done on the up and up. But then we are jumping to conclusions and making determinations about something that has not yet been determined to be a viable problem. And seeing as this legislation will not pass at this juncture I am sure there will be ample time to make, if needed, necesary modifications to satisfy everyones concerns.

“You just cannot believe that most people do not want unions. I can tell you one very important reason why they may not - seniority. A young worker really gets cheated by this simple rule. Unions are good for those already established or those who are uncomfortable with change - often older workers. They are not as good for new workers or those who want to do things differently - young workers”

My intent was not to imply that most people want unions. My point was that most groups of people who seek a union or feel the need for one most likely have good cause. People do not form unions because it is the cool thing to do.

I have experienced the younger worker older worker differences. I am of the opinion that for the most part younger workers hold a grudge against older workers because the latter generally have a bit more comfort in their jobs due to seniority, knowledge, and naturally occuring bonds made with management over the years. The differences are generally the result of rebellious jealousy and not being able to understand why the older more experienced worker is on better and more comfortable terms. But on the other hand they are always more than happy to accept the rewards gained thru negotiated contracts. And in the back of their minds they are well aware that in time they will be the senior employees enjoying the same comforts.

I am genuinely sorry about this lengthy post. Brevity is not my strong point. (not being sarcastic)

Posted by: ILdem at March 4, 2007 7:57 PM
Comment #210516

Unions are dying in this country and they will grasp at any straw to stay afloat.

Posted by: tomd at March 4, 2007 8:00 PM
Comment #210518

There’s no appropriate place to post the following remarks, so, sorry, Rhinehold, for getting off topic.


David R., I supported your right to pick and choose editors as you see fit. But shutting off comment in those Watchblog ad threads to limit criticism — no, that looks damn bad. I understand your feelings. I was a founder of an internet community still going strong after 10 years, and part of managing such a thing is that you’ve gotta have a thick skin. You cut off debate; you’re just using power arbitarily. I expected much, much better. I’m also scratching my head over the business of the poster being cut off because he said America is a representative republic. You called that too extreme for Watchblog. Well, sorry, but I’ve read you call this country a tyranny, a statement far, far outside of mainstream views.

This is my last visit here.

Posted by: Trent at March 4, 2007 8:19 PM
Comment #210520


Addressing your guery late, but better late than never:

I said, “America’s workers need “government intervention”!”

You asked, “Perhaps. What kind of intervention? Government should:

* protect the right to unionize
* enforce anti-trust laws to prevent the well-known tactics of monopolies to destroy competition.
* enforce laws against discrimination based on anything other than qualification and experience”

“Beyond that, I’m not sure what the government can do that wouldn’t be over-reaching the states’ rights to decide these things. My state is also a right-to-work state. Forced unionism strikes me as too controlling, but half the states do that.”

My point is that a majority of American workers are really getting the shaft. Lou Dobbs is right on the money when he talks about the “war on the middle class”, although I think his rhetoric about “undocumented immigrants” borders on racism. The American middle class is steadily falling behind. more and more of our middle class is falling into poverty.

Recent reports show that individual American’s have less savings (in many cases NO savings), and we’re also deeper in debt than ever. That’s just as individuals! At some point a “downturn” or recession is inevitable. The public debt has been over 60% of GDP for some time and hovered near 70% a few times.

We have no “cushion” my friend. Both on the personal level and nationally we’re headed for trouble. The nations wealth has once again shifted towards an ever narrower and smaller percentage of the populace. Recent fuel price increases have hit blue collar workers once again.

City dwellers quite often forget that a large part of the populace lives in rural settings and must commute, generally in old “hoopties” that get crap for gas mileage. It’s a different world.

My real point is to bring attention to the living conditions that brought about the support for FDR’s New Deal. That was extreme! Unless we begin to recognize the imbalance in worker compensation, taxation, etc. we will find ourselves back in that situation.

I happen to think we’re very close to another depression. The difference will be that we’ll see less soup kitchens and more forfeiture of American infrastructure to foreign entities. How do you say Grand Canyon in Chinese? How will Ho Chi Minh look carved into Mount Rushmore?

OK, that’s nuts, but you get where I’m going, eh?

It goes far beyond minimum wage or unionization.

Posted by: KansasDem at March 4, 2007 8:46 PM
Comment #210526

Trent, I agree, but I wish you wouldn’t leave because I’ll miss your contributions here very much.

As I read through this thread and the one over in the red column, I find them pretty humorous. It’s so totally transparent that Jack and others here who are decrying this legislation are clearly standing on the side of the greedy businessmen and AGAINST the workers. This is unsurprising, and so, there is really no use arguing with them. Management has always tried to call the shots, and treat us however shabbily want to, just as long as they continue to grow rich at our expense. For this reason, we don’t need to endlessly argue with such people, because it’s nothing but a wasted effort. Instead, we need only focus on governmental representation, legislation that will help us (like the reforms in question), and union representation to deal with our contract negotiations. And ignore the rest.

Jack tells us:

You have to get the process straight. The firm makes the money. The union helps divide it up. W/o the firm, there can be no union, but w/o the union the firm suffers not at all.

That is one of those power things you really cannot change. The firm is the goose that lays the golden eggs. If the union kills the firm, it doesn’t get anymore eggs.

Since Jack is speaking so simplistically, so will I:
The above sentiment is what the plutocrats would love for you to believe. That workers don’t actually matter much in THEIR money-making process. And that YOU aren’t really needed and hold little power over them. But that isn’t true at all. The truth is, while the business owners do take the initial risk with their money in the start up of the business, the SUCCESS of that business lies with the quality and hard work of the WORKERS.
You are an enormous factor in whether their business will succeed or fail. Just like without their starting the business, you might not have a job. There is an equality there that they are desperately hoping you won’t be able to grasp, so that the balance of the power will always weigh more heavily in their favor. But, without the worker, their business grinds to a halt, and public opinion turns against those who treat their people callously and inhumanely.
Unions have proven to be the only way to maintain the balance of power between business and labor. The real power of solidarity gets a workers needs addressed, and without it, they will usually be ignored. The larger the business entity, the more the need for union solidarity and representation.

Workers who are union members or those who are in the process of organizing and joining one know exactly what they’re about. They want representatives to negotiate better wages, conditions, healthcare, and good retirement pensions on their behalf. Without a union, workers will very seldom get those things.

My husband is in a union. As a result, he makes excellent wages, we have an excellent healthcare plan, and look forward to an excellent pension for our retirement years. Therefore, the benefits of being in a union, and the increase in the quality of our lives is something we can easily acknowledge and appreciate. It’s not some abstract theory the way these plutocrats always love to paint it. It seems to me that the only people who constantly gripe about unions are those who have put themselves on the side of business who wish to exploit workers, or those who are dreaming of one day finding themselves on the side of business exploiting workers for their own personal gain.

Don’t be fooled by the negative rhetoric and demonization of unions — for they only seek to cheat you of a decent life for yourselves and your family so that they can live large. Successful business owners will always grow richer, all a union does is make sure that you get a decent share of the wealth that YOU help to create.

In 1944, Vice president Henry Wallace when asked whether or not we had fascists in this country said:

The really dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.

They claim to be superpatriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is capture political power so that, using the power of the state and power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjugation.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 4, 2007 11:09 PM
Comment #210535

One of the good things about the new economy is, and this is according to previous articles on this blog, that the pie is bigger now. With that in mind the unions should still be very much a part of the process. With the bigger pie now availble it would seem to me that the unions push to organize and in turn create higher wages for the working people of this Country would not come from the pockets of the wealthy but from a bigger piece of the bigger pie. Seems we all would be able to have our ..uh er um pie and eat it to.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 5, 2007 12:02 AM
Comment #210536


I am not speaking against unions here. (I will not hide my opinon that I think unions are a little old fashioned, but that is not the point.)

If employees think they want a union, I believe they should have one. I believe in asking them, however, under conditions where they will not be rushed or pressured.

Re the firm, yes a firm is only as good as the knowledge and skills of its workforce, which includes workers, managers, engineers, owners etc (i.e. anybody who contributes to the product). My response was to a particular post that seemed to imply that the workers might vote to disband a firm. W/o a firm there can be no union. A firm, however, can get along quite well w/o a union. It cannot get along w/o a workforce. I also pointed out that the union and the workers were not necessarily the same. Workers might choose a union and they might not.

I work for a living. I do not do hard manual work anymore, but then nobody in my organization does. We all are knowledge workers. We have no particular use for a union. We have to adapt quickly to changes in technologies and information. Union rules could not keep up. I have not read my job description. I tell my boss that I will do what needs to be done. If we do not have something we need, we will figure it out. I tell my subordinates that I expect the same from them. We do not need some union defining what we can do based on yesterday’s model. Most of my staff teleworks a couple days a week. Unions are often unenthuiastic about such things. Unions are just a little behind the times. They need to adapt to more flexible workforces, not just try to use their political muscle to organize more workers.

Posted by: Jackj at March 5, 2007 12:15 AM
Comment #210537

One more thing

The way of the future is for individuals to have multiple income streams and flexible work. I have a job; I have a forestry operation; I have investments; I have volunteer activities. All these things are my vocations. Unions are still set up for the guy who works at one place for a long time. This was the world of the past; it is not the world of the future.

Posted by: Jack at March 5, 2007 12:21 AM
Comment #210550

Thanks for the links. I will read through them and see how they relate to your first statement about how Bush being the cause of it all.

Posted by: kctim at March 5, 2007 9:33 AM
Comment #210554

Jack, the world, and this nation, is what WE make of it through action and inaction. It can, and should, be in far better shape than it is. Globalization was a choice made by corporation CEO’s, not we the people.

Globalization is not inherently good. Globalization means, as last weeks stock market evidenced, that if China goes down, the U.S. goes down right along with her. If Pakistan nukes India, the American economy falters. It has some definite international political upsides.

But, it also has some terrible downsides for we, the working people, many of whom find changing careers and jobs one of the most stressful events in life. It does not need to be this way - it is this way for the benefit of corporate heads and shareholders (politicians being amongst that group).

The mom and pop stores did NOT have to yield to Wal-Mart. If the people had stood up in larger numbers and louder voices, thousands of mom and pop stores would still exist. The Wal-Mart paradigm is cheaper for most customers, and cheaper for Wal-Mart to achieve profits by exploiting cheap labor in China instead of higher wages here in the U.S. and by tapping economies of scale, especially in distribution.

But, that does not, in and of itself, mean that Wal-Mart should be given the legal, and political clout to continue to dominate communities, replace jobs, and lower wages for new ones. Nor does it mean the Wal-Marts should shape and recreate our society for its own profit ends.

One underlying flaws of the reasoning of most who pray at the alter of profit and bigger and more powerful business, is that passion rules, rather than reason. Profit is a passion of business, and excludes all other values in its considerations if allowed to, in shaping the course and future of human beings enslaved by its business models, leaving them no choice, no say, and little if any self-determination.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 5, 2007 10:13 AM
Comment #210558


Some decisions are made by the people, but not through politcal process. If the people chose not to shop at Wal-Mart, there would be no Wal-Mart. If nobody wanted to buy the products from China, they would not be here.

Wal-Mart is a newcomer. It was nothing but a local discount store. They did not have much political clout 20 years ago. They got powerful because we the people chose to buy there.

There are lots of things I do not like about globalization. But people want what it gives them. If not, they can stop it.

We are not victims of this process. We are participants. There is no “them”, only “us.”

What can the politcal system do to slow globalization? You can raise trade barriers, make it harder to open stores etc. These things will raise prices and people will complain. It doesn’t matter all that much to me personally. But I do not think you will get support for these things when people really understand the tradeoffs.

You and I probably agree on many lifestyle values. I do not buy a lot of things. I am a little boring in my tastes. I am not interested in new cars or a lot of gadgets. I do not mind eating the same foods, listening to the same music (reggaeton leave me cold) and if it is not sold at LL Bean I probably do not need it. Most people are not like that. They want new and cool things. Globalization gives them more and cheaper. The people have spoken.

Posted by: Jack at March 5, 2007 10:37 AM
Comment #210566

Jack, you are ignoring the NO CHOICE situation. Wal-Mart establishes the bulk of its stores in communities with an average income of 30% less than communities where CostCo exists (verifiable data). In lower income communities, the bulk of families don’t have a choice - they must shop the lowest price as part of their strategy to make ends meet.

Jack said: “They did not have much political clout 20 years ago. They got powerful because we the people chose to buy there.”

No, they got powerful via our government’s open door policy to wealthy corporations and businesses. The Bush administration has invited business in to actually write public policy for energy and the Medicare Rx drug plan, for example.

Our political system need not cater to wealthy business to the exclusion of the working population, but, it does because of our election and campaign finance system.

Jack said: “There are lots of things I do not like about globalization. But people want what it gives them. If not, they can stop it.”

True enough, but, not with their pocketbook as Republicans tout, but through political reform, as 3rd party, independents, and a small number of Democrats advocate.

Jack said: “We are not victims of this process. We are participants. There is no them, only us.”

That is a fallacy, Jack, and I suspect you know that despite your comment above. There are those with the ear of politicians and those without. A minority of American have the ear of government, the majority do not. There is indeed a them and us.

And the wealth gap is growing, ever widening the political gulf between them and us. There is a direct relationship between wealth and public policy, one that is far weaker between public policy and the public at large.

You and I Jack, are surprisingly (to me, anyway) similar in our lifestyle values. I don’t advocate for me, I advocate for my daughter’s future and her children’s future. I advocate for the legacy I leave behind as a responsible citizen with only modest means. I advocate for freedom of choice along side responsibility toward our nation and fellow citizens, present and future by all. I advocate for consequences toward those in positions of making or shaping public policy who advocate for themselves primarily.

Which means I advocate for collective bargaining but against corporate unions. I advocate for free markets provided both consumers and producers in America are the first priority in setting free market objectives. I advocate for justice and fair and Equal enforcement of our laws from the President down to the inmate. Not this selective system of enforcement we have today, where those with means, and/or positions of power are subject largely to an entirely different treatment by our justice system.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 5, 2007 12:40 PM
Comment #210572


So they have no choice but to shop at the lowest price place. Your alternative would perhaps be to raise the prices by not letting Wal-Mart in.

Re Wal-Mart clout - they did not have very much until around 20 years ago. Sam Walton ran a cheap discount store in rural Arkansas. His power came from being a successful business person. Political clout (such as they have) followed. It did not come before and did not cause it.

The choices we all make determine what we get. People have chosen the Wal-Mart model by their actual behavior, no matter what they say. I do not see an “us” and “them”.

A while ago I spent a couple days in a little town called Hoofddorp. It is an unremarkable place near the Amsterdam airport, but it is just a really pleasant place. There is a lot of green space. Farm animals graze right into the village. Everything is clean. I wondered why we cannot have places like that in America and came up with several reasons. One is that Americans love their cars way too much. This was not a car friendly place. Another reason is that we like to spread out too much. Houses were small and close together. Most of the shops would never pass ADA provisions and I am sure the sheep and cows would be declared health hazards. Somebody would sue over the dangerous canals w/o proper fences etc. But the most important reason is that people in America has so much power over their development. In Holland, the authorities plan; the people generally accept.

I have been attending meetings re development near my house. I live a seven minute walk from a metro stop and when we bought the place the local authorities had plans to make our area transit friendly. Everybody likes that term - transit friendly. But most of the people who attend meetings do not like what it means. They oppose density. They want easy parking etc. So we do not really get transit friendly. If “they” did the planning w/o “us” we might actually have a nicer place, at least as defined by somebody like me. Of course, most people are not like me. That is why we have to give them the choices too.

Posted by: Jack at March 5, 2007 1:14 PM
Comment #210584

I came across this post on another blog and thought I would share. It makes more sense and explains what’s happening more clearly than we have done.

The House on Thursday passed the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill designed to make the difficult process of forming a union easier for workers. The legislation, passed by a vote of 241-185, largely along party lines, was supported by nearly all of Illinois’ Democratic delegation, and both senators Durbin and Obama have promised to guide this bill through the Senate. Barack Obama voiced his support of the bill, although he acknowledged that getting it signed by President Bush would be another matter. “It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when,” Obama told a labor rally this weekend. “We may have to wait for the next president to sign it, but we will pass it. We will get this thing done.” In fact, Bush has already said that he will veto this bill if it reaches his desk.

Starting a union is a complex process, and entire books have been written on how to do it. In a nutshell, the current process of administrative rules and labor laws require at least 30% of workers to sign union cards indicating that they want to have a union, petition the government for an election, and then go through a campaign before getting to vote to have a union or not. As it stands now, that election is usually scheduled six to eight weeks after the petition is filed, assuming that there are no legal challenges by the employer (a common stalling tactic). Further impeding the right to organize in the workplace are laws, court rulings, and administrative procedures that have essentially turned the original National Labor Relations Act on its head: bosses can hold mandatory anti-union meetings during work, hire consultants to help run counter-organizing campaigns, and harass, threaten and fire union supporters with little legal consequence. The Employee Free Choice Act changes the rules regarding union representation, granting union recognition by signing up a simple majority of workers on union cards, eliminating the petition process. Furthermore, this bill creates meaningful consequences when employers violate employee rights to organize and provides for mediation and arbitration in first contract negotiations.

Opponents of the bill, like Illinois congressman Ray LaHood (R-18), say it is unbalanced. He told the Pekin Daily Times that he felt it would actually “take away the opportunity of the worker to participate and have their voice heard through the ballot.” Union activists argue that the bill would streamline a cumbersome and lopsided election process that acts more as a barrier to union representation than a protection of democratic rights.

Studies have documented that more than half of non-union workers would join a union if given the opportunity, and have shown that nearly 90% of union workers would vote to keep their existing union. Passage of this bill would put US law on par with labor laws that have been in place in other developed democracies for years. Nationally, productivity has jumped 20% in the last six years, but wages have stagnated at around 2%. Access to healthcare, job safety, social mobility, and retirement have declined as well, impacting Illinois disproportionally, and to a lesser extent the Chicago area. Even former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has expressed concern over the economic consequences of this trend. In a city that still wears its working-class heritage on its sleeve, a bill like this has ramifications for the middle class for years to come.

Posted by: Max at March 5, 2007 3:14 PM
Comment #210587

Max, that sounds about right and a good summation of where we stand. Thanks.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 5, 2007 3:20 PM
Comment #210588

The only reason unions are fighting outsourcing is because it can cause them lose membership. This translates to them losing money. And the only reason they’re in business (and that’s all they are, a business) is to make money. They could care less about if you have a job or not except that they might be able to get ya as a member, money in their pockets and out of yours.
I’m against outsourcing as much as the next guy. It’s hurting our country and I’m against anything that hurts my country.
This is why I’m also against unions. They’re not needed now with our labor laws. They have become a leech on the employee as well as the employer.
I recently had a couple employees that contacted a union wanting it to represent the factories employees. When I checked on them I found out that both were about to be fired because of poor job performance and attendance. I can see why a union would appeal to folks like this because a union would oppose and even go out on strike to keep them from being fired. The reason, MONEY in their pockets.
Why a unions would appeal to anyone else is beyond me.

Posted by: Ron Brown at March 5, 2007 3:25 PM
Comment #210599
This is why I’m also against unions. They’re not needed now with our labor laws.
That’s why unions were important at one time. Now you have to wonder what the real goals are, and how beneficial they really are on the whole. Especially with globalization … they don’t have much leverage anymore. Posted by: d.a.n at March 5, 2007 4:54 PM
Comment #210611

Ron Brown said: “The only reason unions are fighting outsourcing is because it can cause them lose membership.”

Wrong! Unions are made up of workers. The reason unions are fighting globalization is to prevent the loss of their jobs and wages in new ones. This is what union members have always fought for, among other things of greater and lesser merit.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 5, 2007 6:03 PM
Comment #210613

People should have the right to unionize.
People also shouldn’t be forced to join (i.e. as within the right-to-work states).
Yes, as with everything, there are the good and bad things (abuses).

Unfortunately, as the U.S. manufactures less and less (there are more jobs in government than all manufacturing), becomes more service oriented, and foreign competition is growing larger and stronger, it’s hard to see how unions can have much leverage anymore. Corporations aren’t only moving manufacturing overseas, but services too (i.e. DELL, IBM, all sorts of customer services, etc. come to mind).

Are unions really benefitting workers that much anymore?
When you look at General Motors and Ford, it makes you wonder?
The thing is, can unions really sustain wages and benefits anymore?
Especially in right-to-work states?

What might help is if politicians would stop giving rewards, tax subsidies, corporate welfare and such to corporations that move operations overseas?
What might help is if politicians would stop pitting U.S. citizens and illegal aliens against each other, secure the borders, and enforce existing laws?
What might help is if politicians stopped selling us out?
What might help is if voters stop rewarding those irresponsible politicians by repeatedly re-electing them?

When the consequences of these types of decisions are finally realized, we will see that we are selling ourselves out.
We are being crushed under the weight and decisions of corrupt, irresponsible incumbent politicians and voters that empower those politicians. We are selling ourselves out.
Or, perhaps we already sold-out a long time ago, and we are merely witnessing the transfer of the assets of that sale now ?
When the transaction is complete, we will realize our loss (too late), and we will have no one but ourselves to thank for it.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 5, 2007 6:31 PM
Comment #210616

D.a.n, we have become a service economy. And service workers from janitors to secretaries to landscape and food preparation workers, are being exploited, sometimes at just above minimum wage with no benefits. Many of them would do well to unionize.

You are right and I agree with you, as most folks would, that no one should be forced or intimidated into joining a union. But, then you have to ask: if union workers were being treated better than non-union, who wouldn’t want to be union? That is precisely why business interests are lobbying like there is no tomorrow against this bill.

If unions are formed, most of those outside of them will join them within 2 years; they would be foolish not to, if the unions are able to get better treatment and consideration for union workers.

The smart business will treat non-union workers as well as union workers, then non-union workers get the same treatment and pay without having to pay union dues. The union will then ebb. Until business exploits workers unfairly again. That is the whole point of making unions easy to form. They, act as a check and balance on employers tendencies to exploit labor.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 5, 2007 7:11 PM
Comment #210617

OK, y’all are right. Unions are great.
Right after I bought the factory I made the mistake of letting a union in. It was the biggest mistake I ever made.
I had to hire three times the employees to get the same amount of work done as most of them quit working. Machine operators could even change a light bulb on their machines. Against union rules. They couldn’t make adjustments to the machines. Against union rules. They had to call maintenance and shut the machine down while maintenance took it’s sweet time (2 to 3 hours) to make a 3 minute adjustment. Meantime I was paying a person to stand around doing nothing as I couldn’t send them to another machine while we were waiting for maintenance to get off its butt and make the adjustment. Against union rules.
I had to build a jacket for 6 months on employees that weren’t doing their jobs or had attendance problems before I could even think of firing them. Then the union would object and threaten to go on strike if I fired them.
When the contract was up in 1990 they demanded more money and a bunch of other crap. Then they threatened to immediately go on strike if I didn’t cave into their demands before the contract was up. I told the union to take a 5 mile walk off a 1 mile pier and fired every employee that went on strike. And the union didn’t even try to help them get another job.
Production suffered for about a year while I trained new employees. But not near as bad as it did with the union and I don’t have to deal with the nightmare of a union anymore.
I won’t stop any of my employees from joining a union. But I will not deduct the dues from their checks. And I won’t sign a contract with any union. If they decide to strike they can pickup their final checks on their way out the door. I can find plenty of folks willing to replace them.
But yeah, unions are the next best thing to sliced bread. LOL.

Posted by: Ron Brown at March 5, 2007 7:20 PM
Comment #210618

I find it interesting that all y’all that are against big business are for unions. And unions are big business. They could care less about the rank and file. The only thing they care about is the bottom line. The bigger it is the better.
That’s why they will fight anything they think will hurt them. And outsourcing hurts them. When a business outsources they lay off employees. If these employees are union members the union loses money. And they aint in business to lose money.

Posted by: Ron Brown at March 5, 2007 7:27 PM
Comment #210619

Ron, I am not against big business at all. I am for responsible big business. HUGE DIFFERENCE. More than 75% of our economy is supported by American consumers, and big business has obligations to those consumers. That view is NOT anti-big business.

I travel long distances on vacations and love the fact that there is McDonalds at nearly every town exit, assuring predictable service and product. I don’t go to McDonalds EXCEPT on vacations, but, I am glad they are there when I need them.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 5, 2007 7:33 PM
Comment #210620

David, Ron,

You are both right.
Yes, without unions, corporations abuse the employees in a variety of ways too.

I’ve never worked for a union, but have seen the dark side of unions when I worked in an F16 factory in the 1980s. I could tell you stories that some (probably not you) would find to be absolutely unbelievable. As an non-union worker in the factory, I had grievances filed against me twice. Once for typing my own letter and printing it out on a printer, rather than letting the secretary type it up. So, I had to give her the letter I printed out and she would type it up (when she finally got around to it). On another instance, I was merely moving a personal computer and monitor on a rolling cart from one location to another. A union worker saw me and filed a grievance against me. Both times, I didn’t even know what I was doing was wrong. So, in the future, I had to wait days to get someone to come move a PC, for cryin’ out loud. On another occassion, while running tests on a computer program I wrote, I had to let the union operator type on the keyboard to move a computerized crane. When the break buzzer went off, I was unable to continue testing because it was his job to press the keys on the keyboard. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

Ron, your story is exactly the sort of thing I observed too. Workers quickly get VERY lazy when they think they can get away with it. If the unions policed their own ranks, that wouldn’t be a problem.

It’s unfortunate that a happy medium can be established.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 5, 2007 7:34 PM
Comment #210621

Ron Brown, you do not appear to understand outsourcing. Outsourcing doesn’t mean jobs go overseas to a foreign company. In large part it means the American company moves its operations overseas, where it can operate more profitably. Big Business loves outsourcing and FREE TRADE agreements that permit them overseas market entrance.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 5, 2007 7:35 PM
Comment #210624

CORRECTION: It’s unfortunate that a happy medium can not be established.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 5, 2007 7:36 PM
Comment #210625

Yes, and then our politicians give them tax subsidies and corporate welfare too, rewarding them for selling us out.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 5, 2007 7:39 PM
Comment #210626

And Ron, Unions are not great. Some unions have been horrible. Like the UAW which priced labor out of jobs and their companies out of domestic markets with GENEROUS help from misguided Execs. The UAW overreached. Unions are tools, and like a hammer you can build something useful with it or kill someone with it. How it is used determines whether or not it is good or ill.

When unions begin to become and act like corporations in and of themselves, like the UAW did, they become tools wielded not for the workers, but for union management’s profits.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 5, 2007 7:39 PM
Comment #210633

Did unions see their mistakes at the UAW?
I’m not sure.
IBM had a union in Fishkill, NY.
They had massive layoffs in the early 1990s.
I recall the city asking gun stores to close for a while.
I remember people being beaten severely at General Dynamics in Fort Worth when I worked there.
What was General Dynamics solution finally.
Shut down the plant, and sell out to another company dumb enough to want to deal with it.
They both can not wield power.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 5, 2007 8:23 PM
Comment #210635

If a company moves it operations over seas jobs are going over seas and jobs are lost here.
The UAW is most likely the worst union around. And unfortunately they have such a strangle hold on the American auto manufacturers that they’re going to drive them into extension.
If the big three had any kahunas at all they’d throw the UAW out on it butt. I’m sure they can find plenty of folks that would be willing to work for them for $5/hr less than they’re paying now.
Because we rebuild electrical auto parts the UAW claimed it should be the union to represent my employees. Fortunately they decided on the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers instead of the UAW. And they damn near bankrupt me. The UAW would have been a whole heap worse.
The BEW didn’t like me throwing them out but I really didn’t care. I was trying to save my business.
The reason I let the union in was because I wanted to do right by my employees. Fortunately I can do right by them and not have to put up with a union.
BTW, when I said unions are great I was being sarcastic.

Posted by: Ron Brown at March 5, 2007 8:25 PM
Comment #210663

Ron Brown

First of all let me state that I do realize there is room for improvement where union and management policy is concerned. Jack is correct when he says unions are sometimes old thinking. But the same can be said of business as well. Times have changed and I believe unions realize that they will have to modernize and reorganize their thinking to survive. Unfortuntely business is doing just the opposite. The rules in recent years under republican control have changed to favor business and make it much harder for the worker to obtain fair representation. Rather than make conditions better for employees and fairly compensate them most business direction has been to attack and weaken the unionizing process while ignoring the needs of the worker simply because they can.

I am now retired but was a steward for many years. Our workforce consisted of about 15 individual shops spread across northern IL. Each shop had its own individual problems. Some had very little while others were in constant turmoil. I was lucky to be in a shop which had very few problems. The one big factor between good and bad was quite simply good or bad management. Of course each had a few employees that were always a problem. The system always seemed to catch up with and correct their problems or eliminate them from the work force eventually. There were a few years that we had tensions at my shop. Each was the direct result of extreme authoritarian supervision. These bosses were total asses from day one. Demanding every rule be followed everyminute of every work day and constantly standing over employees insuring that nobody slacked off for even a second. As a result the workforce rebelled. One method was to hold management to every little rule as well. Grievances increased ten fold and the workplace was not paricularly productive and workers were non willing to go out of their way when needed. In each case the responsible managers were eventually repositioned or fired by upper management. Upper management was smart enough to eventually realize the problems were not the result of a poor workforce, but the result of poor management. Poor employees like poor managers can be dealt with via the system. A good union will only go to bat for a problem employee so many times. Eventually their reputation preceeds them and they will then be on their own.

Too be honest with the exception of a few years the particular shop I worked out of would have had no reason or desire to unionize because conditions were good and we had a good rapport with good management. Unfortuanetly for the company this was not so in all but a few of the shops.

Unions may not be perfect, but in instances where business is less than decent to its employees, they serve a viable and necesary function.

Posted by: ILdem at March 6, 2007 10:36 AM
Comment #210674

“The rules in recent years under republican control have changed to favor business and make it much harder for the worker to obtain fair representation.”

I’m not aware of any changes you speak of. Can you elaborate please?

Posted by: tomd at March 6, 2007 12:10 PM
Comment #210987


In 2004, a Zogby International poll of union members commissioned by the Mackinac Center found that 78 percent wanted Congress to keep secret-ballot elections.

Employers often resist unionization, and sometimes resort to illegal or unethical tactics in doing so. It’s understandable that a union official would object when employers fire union supporters or threaten to close unionized facilities.

Employers have rights, too

Supporters of the act cite a Cornell University professor’s claim that three-quarters of Americans believe employers should be neutral in union elections. But that’s not the same as saying there shouldn’t be elections, and employers do have First Amendment rights, including the right to speak out about the effects of unionization.

It is worth noting that for all the problems union officials point to few involve the actual ballot box. Union officials can claim all sorts of improprieties by employers in the run-up to votes, but they have yet to allege that the National Labor Relations Board has failed to hold fair elections.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 7, 2007 9:43 PM
Comment #211000

There are employers that abuse their employees. And they generally have a hard time finding and keeping good employees. Like the problem employee, their reputation precedes them. Good employees know they can do better somewhere else and go there. Maybe those employers need a union.
But most employers though want to and do treat their employees as good as they can. Anyone in business knows that it’s the employees that make the money for the company. They also know that a happy employee is a productive employee. And a productive employee is a profitable one. And they are in business to make a profit. Even though the unions don’t think so.
While I feel I treat my employees very good, I still wish I could do more for them. And I keep looking for ways too. For the most part I have a bunch of very good employees (the bad ones don’t get to stay very long) and want to keep them.
But I am in business to make a profit. And while I’m willing to take a little less profit in order to do more for my employees I refuse to not make a profit at all.

Posted by: Ron Brown at March 7, 2007 10:47 PM
Comment #211021

Has anyone noticed the debate is always “us(employees) against them (employers).

How would you define it other than “class envy?”

Posted by: tomd at March 8, 2007 7:04 AM
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