NLRB’s ‘Snap Elections’ Would Tip the Scales in Unions’ Favor

The NLRB’s proposed snap elections, which Peter Kirsanow described here yesterday, are another case of the Obama administration putting unions ahead of workers. Unionization has plummeted in the private sector because very few workers want to join. Unions want to reverse that trend by denying employees an informed choice.

Union organizers don’t give workers impartial career advice. They are salesmen paid to recruit dues-paying union members. Unions train their members in sales tactics such as SPIN selling. SPIN stands for Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-payoff, a process of identifying the problems that matter to employees and persuading them that a union would solve them. Whether the union would actually solve the problems is another matter.

Unions train their organizers to deflect subjects such as dues increases and strike histories, which make employees less likely to join. The NLRB even allows unions to lie to workers because it assumes employers will rebut untruths. By the end of an organizing drive, workers have gotten a one-sided sales pitch painting unions as the solution to their every problem.

Only after the union calls for an election does management typically learn about the campaign and get a chance to respond. Management tells workers what union organizers did not. Management explains that in a competitive market, unions have little power to raise wages, but will nonetheless take 1 to 2 percent of workers’ pay in dues. Management points out how few rights union constitutions give their members. Management educates workers about union corruption.

Employees can cast an informed vote only after they hear from both employers and unions. Unsurprisingly, hearing both sides makes workers less likely to unionize — but that is not a reason to silence employers. Workers have the right to make an informed choice, not just the union choice. Nonetheless Obama’s NLRB plans to implement snap elections.

If they succeed, many workers will unionize only to find that reality did not live up to the sales pitch. Under the board’s “certification bar” and “contract bar” doctrines, newly organized workers cannot vote to decertify their union for three years. Workers who vote for a union in ignorance will nonetheless be stuck with the consequences.

International observers routinely condemn Russia’s elections because voters there hear almost exclusively pro-regime news from the state-controlled media. Few Western observers consider these votes free or fair. The Obama administration should not force a similar system on American workers, no matter how much it benefits unions.

James Sherk is senior policy analyst in labor economics at the Heritage Foundation.

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