If politicians friendly to Big Labor seize control of Congress this November, as many expect will happen, then union officials appear poised to ram through one of the most damaging and coercive pieces of legislation in recent memory — a bill that will throw open the door for aggressive union organizing campaigns.
In recent years, employees have grown increasingly concerned about forced-unionism abuses, including featherbedding, wasteful work rules, job losses, union corruption, and political crusades, and thus have naturally become less apt to vote for unionization.
In response, Big Labor is resorting more and more frequently to in-your-face tactics known as “neutrality” and “card check” agreements. “Neutrality” agreements are no such thing, and practically force employers into helping a union gain support from employees. Employers agree to such things as: not to give workers any information that would discourage workers from unionizing; requiring workers to sit through one-sided “captive audience” speeches extolling unionization; giving union organizers sweeping access to company premises and employees’ home addresses and phone numbers; and agreeing to a so-called “card check” — that is, agreeing to recognize the union based on the union’s collection of “authorization” cards (cards workers sign authorizing the union to represent them in collective bargaining) from employees, not on the basis of an election.
Not that employers are eager to agree to such conditions — they do so because union officials batter them with negative PR blitzes, costly lawsuits, drawn-out strikes, stockholder actions, and political pressure.
The “card check” agreements are particularly egregious, not only because they eliminate the right of workers to vote for or against the union, but because of the tactics that they allow the unions to employ. Workers commonly receive unsolicited home visits from union operatives who browbeat them into signing the cards. Workers also report that union agents often lie to them about the purpose of the cards. Some are told they are merely health insurance enrollment forms, requests for an election, or even tax forms. Unbeknownst to these workers, because of the “neutrality” agreements the employers agreed to, the cards are then counted as “votes” for unionization.
Revoking a previously signed card can be next to impossible. For example, a National Labor Relations Board official responding to an employee who asked how to get back a card he had signed under false pretenses said that the union was not required to return it or rectify union organizers’ misrepresentations.
Responding to employee complaints from across the country, attorneys for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation have filed numerous court challenges documenting illegal activities by union organizers under such drives — including threats, bribes, and stalkings.
The response of union leaders has been to try to get these abusive practices enshrined in law. A top legislative priority of organized labor is a laughably-misnamed bill called the “Employee Free Choice Act.” The wording of this act is an example of union code, of course, in which “employee free choice” means making sure unions can use organizing tactics that deny employees any effective means of opposing unionization. The act makes it such that employers are forced to recognize unions on the basis of the “authorization” cards. In effect, the law would force employers into so-called “neutrality” agreements. If this act were to become law, union officials would be able to undermine severely the freedom of workers to decide for themselves whether or not to unionize. It would do away with the traditional election process, instead allowing union organizers to bully workers one-by-one into supporting unionization, until they have a majority.
In principle, the card-check bill’s lead sponsor, Congressman George Miller (D., Calif.), knows “card check” organizing is rife with abuses. Five years ago, Miller and many of his co-sponsors addressed this issue in a letter to a Mexican labor commission: “We feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary to ensure that [Mexican] workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose.” But Big Labor’s power, not principle, is Miller’s concern now.
This whole debate is a sad statement about today’s union officials. Rather than trying to ram new coercive union privileges through Congress to undermine employee free choice, union hierarchies should take a hard look at improving the product they are selling.
– Mark Mix is president of the National Right to Work Committee.