Human Resources News & Insights

Obama to AFL-CIO: ‘We will pass EFCA’

business-news
In a videotaped address, President Obama promised a group of union leaders that the controversial Employee Free Choice Act will become law.

The bill would make it easier for unions to recruit workers because it would give them the option of joining a union simply by signing cards rather than through secret-ballot elections in which companies can campaign against the union. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations have been campaigning against the legislation.

The Employee Free Choice Act is expected to be introduced sometime this year in the U.S. Senate, where it likely would be amended before being sent to the U.S. House. Here’s a copy of the Senate version , and there’s a summary below.

Obama’s announcement went out to about 100 union leaders who were meeting with Labor Secretary Solis in Miami.

What’s in the bill now
Here’s the summary of what the bill looks like right now:

  • A union would have the right to be recognized as the exclusive bargaining representative of your employees if a majority of those employees sign authorization cards.
  • If a majority of employees sign cards, an employer must begin bargaining within 10 days after the union is certified.
  • If the union and the employer cannot agree upon the terms of a first collective-bargaining contract within 90 days, a federal mediator steps in.
  • If, after 30 days of mediation, the union and employer still have not agreed on a contract, a federal arbitrator would be empowered to determine the terms of the agreement, and your employees would lose their current right to ratify the terms of the agreement.
  • If an employer is found to have unlawfully terminated pro-union employees, the law would provide for liquidated damages of three times back pay. In addition, you’d be hit with a $20,000 penalty per occurrence if the National Labor Relations Board or a court finds against you.
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Comments

  1. Reid N. Nelson says:

    Will this Act put in place the same method for an existing Union shop to become Decertified? In other words, if a group of employees are disatisfied w/ their union representation can they go thru the same signing of cards by a majority of employees allowing them to become de-certified w/o having to go thru the 6 week voting process.

  2. Dan Sullivan says:

    this is as unbalanced as you can have it. The union will go to peoples homes to convince workers and their families that worker should sign cards. The union is not required to stick to facts. They can promise anything to get employee to sign card. When they negotiate contract all the promises are subject to change. Frequently the “contract” looks nothing like the “promises and the proposals” put forth by the union. In this country a fair and equitible election usually means a secret ballot. Are the unions now afraid of a fair campaign? The NLRB is in place to protect the employees rights with a fair campaign, and the unions consistantly hold the NLRB accountable. So what is the real issue here? Does the federal overnment think we need more unions now? If that is the case then why are local governments outsourcing as much as they can? like curbside trash pick up, recycling, cafeterias, and security. Even the US Transportation Security Administration has outsourced airport security at a number of airports such as San Francisco, Kansas City and 8 more…Where is the compelling need to change from a secret ballot?

  3. Bill Smith says:

    If employees think that this will be another easy way out to equalize life in general in today’s economy, they have another thing coming.

    The majority of businesses are small, jobs will be cut back to accommodate the additonal expenses and wait until the employees start paying thier union dues that could have gone in their pocket. What “looks and smells like a rose” may not be a rose!

  4. Matt Adams says:

    This is insane! I know this subject has been beat to death in the last several weeks, but this bodes ill for employers. I work as an HR Generalist for a printing shop of roughly 85 employees, and we recently had to establish a short-term furlough to 32-hour work weeks and increase employee benefits premiums substantially. With those unforseeable circumstances, I’m afraid we are at an increased risk of getting a union established.

  5. This whole EFCA issue really bothers me for several reasons. First of all we live in a country where we can vote for issues and leaders privately and not be intimidated due to voting in private. The unions want to be able to intimidate so as to increase their paying membership. Secondly I think about the state of our economy and throwing the union into the mix will really just add another unneeded burden to business trying to survive. Thirdly I think about all of the unionized businesses and where they are right now. Who will pay for the unionization of businesses? We will. All the cost of doing service will be passed down to you and me just so a few union leaders will have more money to embezzle or fund the politics that many of us are against. I see no purpose for unions in todays world but I do believe that there are many good people caught up in a bad system.

  6. M. Ruvalcaba says:

    This should be called the “Employee Free Intimidation Act”….

  7. I think all employers are bothered by this….and we need to start preparing now and figure out ways to educate the employee’s on this issue. Any ideas that can be passed around would greatly be appreciated.

  8. This is insane–when did America become a Nazi and Socialist society? I hate to say it..but I told all the Obamites so.

  9. At a time when the economy needs increased productivity in order to pay for the billions of $’s in new government spending we should not be introducing productivity killing bureaucracy that inevitably comes with Unions…..

  10. This is payback for the millions of dollars the unions ropped on the Obama campaign. Thanks to them, Obama was able to saturate the airwaves in the battle ground states, which may have been a deciding factor in the outcome of the election. The unions made an investment and now it’s time to collect their return.

  11. I still support President Obama but this is one issue we don’t see eye to eye on. I am NOT a supporter of unions.

  12. The EFCA is a little like buying something ater you’ve seen a great looking product on TV, only to find out that what you bought is not exactly what you thought. I wish I could get the Federal governmrnt to help me market the products of my company as they are doing for unions. Every new member represents a sale (and uncrease of revenue) for the unions. But, sending the product back is a whole different problem.

  13. Did you know about this?

    SEN. DEMINT INTRODUCES THE SECRET BALLOT PROTECT ACT OF 2009

    The bill amends the National Labor Relations Act to guarantee that workers are given the protection of secret ballot union elections before being forced into monopoly bargaining.

    Currently, the bill has 13 original cosponsors, including: Alexander, Burr, Bunning, Coburn, Cornyn, Corker, Enzi, Inhofe, McConnell, Roberts, Thune, Wicker, and Vitter.

  14. Diane Quinn says:

    When did this meeting with Solis take place? When was the video tape made?….before or after the elcetion

  15. charlotte says:

    The EFCA is INSANE!!! Obama is trying his hardest to turn America into a socialist country. I have a small business of 50 employees. I have not laid employees off. We are strong. Unions are nothing more than organized crime.

    When are American’s going to wake up?????

  16. 2012 cannot come fast enough! Insane it is, but if we all would have watched and read media reports that were unbiased this is no surprise as to what would happen if we voted for Democrats or Obama. I am an independent voter, so I don’t sway one way or the other, but voted for who I thought was the right person for our country at that time, which wasn’t this administration. However there was a lot of big business that backed these administration policies and thought this is the right course for the nation. Let’s see if they will get a dose of reality if these pass! I wonder how many people will be echoing “I TOLD YOU SO”!

  17. L Johnson says:

    I agree with the concensus here. This is crazy!! Has the federal governement not looked at all the industries they have had to “bail-out”??? With the exception of the financial industry, the business with their hands out and needing money are unionized. The auto industy, airlines, even the United States Postal Service seems to be unionized and they are considering cutting delvery days to make ends meet. Does anyone see the connection?? Unions just drive up cots. Someone really should research the number of lay-offs that can be attributed to unionization???

  18. D. Dukes – Thsnk you for the information and I will contact my representatives right away.

  19. I am always amazed!! In years past I screemed about illegalls taking our work. I watched as little or nothing was done. I said these people are the slavery of today. Most of them great people being taken advantage of by business and our government that fails to enforce and or make rules to end the situation. Why not go after this issue and get it completly taken care of first. This alone would boost wages. I would like to see us treat these people, that work the way they do, the way they should be treated. I like running a company by the rules this union thing is going to add another layer of cost just understanding it. This is at a time when I am thinking about shutting the doors anyway. This is only going to lead to more subcontract labor. If you do not want to be in the union then you better be a subcontractor and we better figure out how to confirm to the subcontractor laws. I think if you are union you should be forced to buy union. Make sure that is in this law also. I bet these guys do not shop at Walmart LOL.. I would like to put my company production saftey and quality up against a union company any time. This law would change the way my people in my company think and how we been able to work together over the years. Now we will get a person with a voice and it will be a majority. This is instead of the best most productive people. This will silence them. Union employees work for a union. Company employees work for a company. If this is going to happen they better start enacting laws about companies over seas taking all our jobs. I have heard less than 3% of union people in the trades take the continuing ed classes that offered. I wish some days I could do that. I wish I had all the gaurantees in life so my woories would go away. Like when jobs do not turn on budget and I bring $$$ to the table to make payroll. Our top union companies are not setting great examples right now. Do we want more of this. Please send me the analyliss on how this is going to help our economy.

  20. I can not believe this is even being considered, their lobbyist must really have something big to hold over someones head. Considering the unions are a lot of the reason the auto industry is in the shape it’s in. Unions have outlived their relevance in most industries, I can see where coal miners might need them, but other industries are so monitored by their own insurance companies and OSHA that the safety factor is taken care of. Pay is generally area based, if you don’t pay what the going rate is you can’t get help anyway. Benefits also are just about a given even in the construcion industry, if you want to keep help you offer benefits.

  21. HR in CO says:

    While it seems President Obama is going to pass this bill, the best thing we can do is contact our President and let him know how we feel about this act. Below is a link where you can email the White House or they even have an address where you can send an old fashion handwritten letter. Especially in today’s economic environment, this is making it unfair for employers to perform.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

  22. Union – Trust is another issue – my husband and many more lost their jobs in 2003 and the Union was not there for them. In fact – officers in his union stole all their money. All officers of the union were fired but who can trust who now. We now know were the union dues went. In this economy today we need more money in our pockets not the unions.

  23. I think everyone has already said what needs to be said. I would personally love to hear Obama’s logic behind his backing of this insanity. How could anyone possibly explain why you would take away voting rights in this situation. It is a blatant contradiction to what our country stands for.

  24. I am not happy about this union thing either but still a better change than Bush policies

  25. The biggest problem is to co-mingle issues such as the Free Choice Act abomination with ANY former presidency viewpoint when we make comments. Our country is predicated on the secret ballot. Mr. Bush is certainly not the only one who fervently believes this. Please think independently on whether or not you want a unionized, socialized country or a free marketplace.

    Cindy, do you really believe that the increase of unionization is better than anything you happen to dislike about past administrations??

  26. Since the federal government has been flat funding may programs over the past 5 years how would that work with a union. If there isn’t any more money, there isn’t anymore money. We can all see how well it is working for the auto industry. Is there a provision to keep unions out of federally and state funded programs? This is counter intuitive when funding is limited and wages often can not be increased so the employee will actually see a decrease in take home pay if they are required to pay union dues. To increase the money going to unions is the real reason for this change. It is a back door stimulus bail out for the unions.

  27. Quite a few years ago I worked for a small company, and one of the employee’s husband, who was a union member, talked her and several others into voting the union in. Two years later, at most, everyone was dropping out of the union because all they were doing was paying dues. Their hourly wages did not increase like the union reps had convinced them that they would because they were already paid a higher hourly rate than industry standard, and there had never been any problems as far as working conditions were concerned. By the way, the woman whose husband had started it all quit shortly after the union was voted in.

  28. To answer your question Reid – no the decertification process would be very different from card check. The Unions want “that” process to be secret ballot so Company’s cannot discuss these issues with those employees who no longer wish for the Union to be the sole representative of the bargaining unit.

    Employee Free Choice Act – take a second to understand what that is saying. Free to choose – but no SECRET BALLOT. The name of this bill and the concept and premise behind it is mind blowing.

    Let me ask you this – why has auto industry not been able to keep up with Toyota? Its a two fold answer – management has not changed its practices or held a lean mindset in its production. Has the Union played a part in that – ABSOLUTELY. Unions in general tie managements hands and flexibility and adaptability are 10x more difficult to over come in a Union environment. People think that we send a lot of work overseas now – wait until this bill passes and changes over 70 years of Labor Law.

  29. CINDY WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING? UNBELIEVABLE COMMENT “THIS UNION THING” HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN H.R.?
    JUST A TRADE OFF FOR THE VOTES FOLKS. START EDUCATING WORK EMPLOYEES ON THIS “JOKE” AND DON’T TAKE THEM FOR GRANTED NO MATTER HOW LONG THEY HAVE BEEN WORKING FOR YOU ETC. BAD ECONOMITC TIMES DOES FUNNY THINGS TO THE MIND ETC.

  30. I’d like to echo what has been said above. This is nothing but a payback for the financial support of the President’s campaign. The unions are nothing more than operating as a business. As such, their membership is down which is their base source of income. What kind of a story can they spin, when in fact, so often, it’s a union shop that’s closed? Why is it they have not been growing? If anyone looks beyond the surface, people fundamentally have not needed/wanted a union due to the changes in law and company’s recognizing the need to operate with a satisfied workforce. That’s not to say that there aren’t still needs.
    If the union would like to succeed, rather than use the “Big Brother” approach to force people – why not figure out how to more effectively partner up with the company to ensure it’s longevity?
    In the 1930’s unions were needed because of strong arm tactics by management, now it appears to be doing a 180 degree turn???

  31. How many times do I have to say that I do not agree with President Obama on the union issue? But I still have faith in HIM. Do you always agree with everything that one person says or does?

  32. To Al:

    I have no clue what you are trying to say in your post and you ask ME what I’m smoking!

  33. I, too, am an Obama supporter, however, I’m not quite sure why he is passing this legislation. Where I work management already acts as if they are powerless against the union such that they allow the union steward to focus more on union activities than her own work. How productive is this when the company, not the union, pays her wages. I believe the more strings added on behalf of the union the more the employer becomes the puppet. Nonetheless, while I am a part of management, there are days when I do understand why people feel unions are necessary. As long as both sides agree to a contract and work together within those confines, there shouldn’t be a need to give the union any additional “strings” as I stated previously. This should work the same way for non-unionized companies as well–work within the confines and keep the employees happy such that they look forward to coming to work every day!!!

  34. To Cindy:

    Do you or do you not think that passage of the Free Choice Act is in the best interest of our country? Al is trying to point out to you that “union thing” is an uninformed phrase to use to describe the true issue at hand. You also seem to be “defending” Obama regardless. This doesn’t make sense to Al or to me. (Pardon me for speaking for you Al.)

  35. To Connie:

    So what you are saying is that because I support President Obama, I have to agree with everything he does? I do NOT support the Free CHoice Act and I think that unions have outlived their purpose. I do have independant thoughts and ideas that could be different than the Presidents. Heaven help us if we all thought the same as our leaders. As far as how I stated the “union Thing”, sorry it offended your “professionalism”. It’s REALLY not a big deal.

  36. How about the 90 day limit before the contract goes to a federal mediator? We currently have a union but will now be more hamstrung than ever during the negotiation process. The federal mediation service does not have to pay the bills or live with the work rules. The company does. There is also no doubt that collectively bargained companies cost more money.

    Some management deserves what they get. But like everything which is legislated, everyone gets to deal with the same regulations, even if they have been a really good employer.

    Sad…

  37. Jerry Burns says:

    I cannot understand how it can be free choice without a sceret ballot. People can be pressured into signing a card while a person or persons is standing there watching. A secret ballot allows the individual to vote the way they feel without outside or undue pressure from peers. This bill in its present form is like saying that two teams will play a basket ball game but only one team will get credit for the ball when it goes through the hoop. The bill in its present form will encourage business to relocate outside the United States where the climate will be more favorable. Mr. Obama need to undertsand that you can make all the demands you want on business but you cannot force a business to stay open. This plan will encourage business owners to say “I Quit.”

  38. Cindy,

    With respect, it is a big deal. We are looking at one of the worst legislative actions in years. This goes beyon Blue, Red, Dem or Rep. It even goes beyone Like Obama, Hate Bush- when you put this issue into a sophmoric phrase “union thing” you degraded yourself as a professional and led all the other professionals you are speaking with into thinking you simply did not have a grasp of the issue at hand. There is a time and place to be dismissive, for me this is not one of those subjects. If this bill passes it will forever change in what I feel is a negative way how private companies are allowed to do business. We have already started open discussions with our work force about this issue. Our books are open and our employee’s know what we can and what we cannot do- What I will not do is allow a member of my department to treat this subject with anything less than stern attention to the facts and what we can do to keep this company afloat and moving forward.

  39. This is a bad bill for many reasons, not just the fact that a majority of employees can elect a union under card check process and that card signatures can be cohersed by union representatives. I agree with Cesar, we need to focus on training our employees. Does anyone have suggested training materials?

  40. This is just the beginning of the changes in store for us during the next 4 years. Just look at what Obama has done in only 2 short months. He has spent us, our children and grand-children into oblivion. He has thrown money at all of the old Democratic special interest groups in the guise of stimulus. His adminstration has been guilty of not paying taxes. He has increased spending to all of the well known under-achievers of the world. His plans are to make us a socialist country, so why not let Unions run rampant. At the end of the day it won’t matter.

  41. And we wonder why American companies go overseas. This is going to send a few more over.

  42. 1) The time to act is now. Contact your representatives, let them know how you feel. Check your local chamber….and any other business associations you may belong to, see what if any mass correspondence is out there that you might lend your name to. Become proactive –

    2) Do everything you can to let them know why your company is a great place to work, as is. Make sure they know all you, as a company, do for them as employees. Make sure your are aware that you follow all the federal and state labor laws set in place and designed to protect them.

    3) Treat your employees with respect. Make sure your supervisors follow company policy and protocol when communicating with employees. Supervisors can be your largest liability or your greatest asset when it comes to employee moral and how your employees feel about working for you.

    Show your employees that a union is NOT necessary.

  43. Better than contacting the White House, now is your opportunity to make yourself heard in the Democratic controlled Senate. The Senate is where the power is right now. They have the power to bury it, change it, or pass it with a veto proof majority. Some great points were made by several people. Call, write and/or somehow contact your state Senators and let them know how this will affect your business and the business in their own back yards — their own voting constituents! There is time to stop this thing in it’s tracks. Neither Obama nor Ms. Pelosi own the Senate. Make your voice heard where it counts!

  44. I am in hospitality industry. We have to negociate with union even if we decide to put a candy on top of a minibar because this will add more work for the members and therefore extra compensation is required.

  45. EFCA will require some very quick reactions from employers. Each response has some valid points, and the comments should be useful tools. I am working in Kentukcy with SHRM affilliates and Louisville labor counsel to develop training on how to plan, learn, and prepare for the probable onslaught of Union activity. Go to the AFL/CIO website and EFCA information for information (yes it is biased but as a professional HR person investigate both sides). Go to Wikipedia and look up Secretary of Labor Solis – excellent links to good information (yes, I know the problems with Wiki posts, but the links are solid and the history of Solis is enlightening as to her total pro-labor and extreme left wing upbringing, education and worklife. She sponsored the original bill with Obama.

    We must quit crying in our beer, prepare for the almost inevitable passage and do our jobs. I spent 15 years doing labor relations and operations in Unionized environments and 12 years in non-union – take care of your employees, you do not want a Union or “individual” representing your employees. Good luck.

  46. EFCA…it’s only the beginning, friends. And Cindy, put on some sunglasses. Now that you’re out here in the light of day you’re going to find it’s pretty darn bright.

    Let me list a few bills that have been waiting in the wings, many of which Obama was a sponsor:

    *HR 6477…a repeal of right to work laws across the country. This would repeal section 14(b) of the Labor Management Relations Act
    *S. 1792…an expansion of the WARN Act, increasing the notice period, changing the definitions of “mass layoff” and “plant closing”, increasing damages, lowering the threshold so more small businesses are covered…
    HR 1542/S. 910…The “Healthy Families Act”, REQUIRES employers of 15+ employees to provide 7 *annual sick days. Oh, and btw, if you are already giving employees sick days, you’ll be required to ADD 7 days to the number. You can’t just say “we’re already doing that.”
    *HR 4301/S. 2419…The “Working Families Flexibility Act”, would require (get ready, you’ll love this!!) that when an employer denies an employee’s request regarding a change in working conditions, the employee will have rights to challenge the decision through a series of escalation from employer to administrative law judge hearings, ultimately ending in federal court. “Change in working conditions” is defined as the employee’s request for a change in # of hours worked, start and end times, location of work (e.g. work from home). ALL the burden will rest with the employer to prove that the denial is justified. And yes, Obama was a sponsor.
    *HR 1338/S. 766…The “Paycheck Fairness Act” will make it illegal for any employer to prohibit or discourage employees from sharing salary information. Also limits employer defenses to EPA claims, uncaps damages for both punitive and compensatory damages, eases restrictions on class actions suits. And if you miss those pesky old OFCCP surveys, you’ll get them back soon enough. So what if it was clear that the OFCCP was corrupt.
    *HR 2049/S. 1244..The “Protecting America’s Worker Act” would increase OSHA penalties, allow criminal penalties for non-fatal incidents, impose significant mandatory sentences, etc.
    *HR 3033…The “Contractors and Federal Spending Accountability Act” would require the creation of a database of contractors who have had civil, criminal, and administrative proceedings concluded by the federal government. A similar bill in the Senate (S. 606) would do the same. So…if you are a government contractor, look out. Any OSHA, EEO, ADA, FMLA, environmental, tax, antitrust, or consumer protection action could mean your ability to bid on government contracts would just…end.
    *HR 1431…The Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2007″ would make it pretty near impossible to deny an employee’s request for a religious accommodation. Further, you would have to accommodate requests for time off and/or dress and appearance standards almost without exception. Can you imagine a more hostile work environment than having to accommodate EVERY religion? You might want to attack me for saying it, but some people have bizarre, made-up religions (for example, sun worshippers that MUST wear short shorts to work every day!!) who do so just so they can impose their will.
    *And lastly, I don’t think it is a bill, but the NLRB is considering requiring employers to bargain with minority unions. What that means is, if you have an election and only 30% of your employees want it, they get it. You’ll have to bargain with it, even though it lost an election. So…forget EFCA, any two that want to bargain are now called a union.

    So, despite my heart-felt desire to say “Told you so” to HR people that blindly supported Obama, I won’t. But will you at least now acknowledge that he is, in fact, a wolf in sheep’s clothing? These bills will, hopefully, die quiet deaths. But in the weeks and months to come, keep an eye out for them. Our economy is strong when our businesses are strong. These will do irrepairable damage to our business base, and to our ability to compete in the world’s economy.

  47. My husband is a union member currently and I am in Human Resources for a non-union facility. I can tell you that the current state of a Union is not that as it was in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. The labor laws have changed over the course of the last 6 decades in such that workers rights are protected without Union Affiliation. Worker’s have the right to appeal employment decisions within the state, and work through the local EEOC; where there are professionals that hold the employer accountable for the employment decisions.

    While the union may offer higher wages and possbily better benefits; the member is also obligated to pay dues for those services and depending on the type of union may give up some of the “fringe” benefits in order to receive those higher wages. The current unions cannot ensure work for everyone in today’s economy. My husbands current “union” employer is facing the same challenges as other “non-union” affiliates in relation to lay-offs and cut back of hours. The union has employees “sitting the bench” waiting for work, collecting unemployment, just as all the other employers being affected by the current economic crisis.

    I do not see how this bill is going to increase jobs and stimu;ate our economy. From my standpoint it is no different than the numerous “stimulus” packages that have been passed with little to no effect on the current economic crisis.

  48. Comment to Rhoda. There is a piece of EFCA relating to government contracts and contractors. EFCA isn’t a long or hard read and you should, as should everyone. If you take over a government contract and have to hire staff to do so, you must offer the positions to the dislocated/laid off staff from the losing company – union or no.

    They also have planted penalties that the OFCCP can cause you to lose your contracts if you have Unfair Labor Practice charges. ULP’s are expected to skyrocket with the new legislation, especially where employees are fired/suspended for alleged “union activities” and can recieve treble damages of lost wages, plus you get hit for a $20K fine for each incident. In an article on the SHRM website today, the DOL is already promising increasing the budget for DOL enforcement, especially the OFCCP and NLRB. I expect that to roll right into OSHA requirements also. Solis truly believes the only medicine for employers is a large hammer and total leverage of employees over the employer. If you can find her testimony to congress when she intoduced EFCA, you will see what companies are looking forward too for at least 4 years.

  49. This guy is a joke, another sad example of the Obama circus interferring with your business. Sad to say I’m not surprised by any of it.

  50. Everyone seems to be assuming that all these “employees” will automatically select on
    these “cards” that they want to be in a union. Who’s to say that they will? These folks
    are not some alien invasion force. They are american citizens, just like everyone else.

  51. HR in Ohio says:

    To Cesar,

    I read a lot of venting about this, but no one has answered your excellent question… what can we do?

    First, we can try to prevent it’s passage by contacting our representatives in Congress and President Obama. However, that is probably a “long-shot.” As mentioned previously, this is repaying the unions for their assistance during the elections.

    The best way to prevent unionization continues to be focusing on our employee relations efforts. We need to be honest with our employees, deliver bad news with a sincere level of compassion, deal with ineffective employees at ALL levels in the organization (from the lowest paid to the CEO!) by holding them accountable for achieving their results in a ethical manner, getting rid of work-place bullies regardless of their results, giving employees control over their own jobs wherever we can, and getting employees’ input on controlling costs and increasing revenue.

    We can educate our employees about this legislation, but I would not recommend that if you have signs of poor morale such as high absenteeism, high turnover, low productivity, etc… That might speed up the unionization process at your organization. Remember also that President Obama also signed four union-friendly executive orders in February, one of them prohibits government contractors from using any funds from the government contract for certain union-avoidance activities.

    Good luck!

  52. I used to support Obama because I thought he was smart. This is a dumb thing to do. Take away an employees right to a fair and secret ballot election, while allowing the Unions to harrass and intimidate the employees AT THEIR HOMES until they sign a card. And let’s not forget the 2nd part of this dumb Act…90 days to settle a contract or someone is appointed THAT KNOWS NOTHING OF THE NATURE OF YOUR BUSINESS to put together a binding document that the business has to live with! What about the non-profits?? I thought I lived in America!

  53. To HR in Ohio (and Cesar) –

    Yes, absolutely, we must do all we can to prevent the passage of the Free Choice Act in any form. My company is conducting meetings with all manager level employees from multiple locations using a PowerPoint presentation from a law firm specializing in union avoidance. I have used the Society for Human Resource Management Government Affairs letters and have mailed them to my representatives. Both of these are good approaches, but may not be enough. Talk to your friends, neighbors, and relatives. Write a “Letter to the Editor” of your local newspaper. Read the facts of proposed law. Don’t depend on blogs (even ones such as this). Think critically what this would mean for our nation.

    Above all, do not take this lightly!

  54. DD, my thoughts exactly….Once companies find out they have to unionize, they will close their doors and move to another country….There goes jobs! Right out the window! There must be a balance to satisfy labor and management. Unions are not the solution to the human condition. In fact, they demotivate people! I think you will see many Americans feeling a “Buyer’s Remorse” with this administration….if they aren’t already!

  55. I agree with DD. I told some people during the election that O’Bama wanted a socialistic society and I was booed out of the room (so to speak.) Now we are seeing the fruits of his labor. I can see a very dark 4 years coming. I will be amazed if we survive as a society.

  56. To Layla –

    Thank you. Well said! I just hope that Cindy is a minority of one, but I fear not.

    It is essential that we do all we can as HR professionals to not use “bashing” mentality and think critically. After all, HR professionals must be professional every day if we are doing our jobs for the sakes of our employees AND our employer.

  57. I was part of a union back in 1983-1991. Believe me they did nothing for me except take my $8 a week. People are stopping any voluntary deductions now just to make ends meet. Do you think they will want to pay for something like this to have a union? There are enough laws out there now that protect the employees unlike 15 – 20 years ago. Why would they want to bother with something like this?

    You all are using this blog more for political voices then HR help.

  58. Liberty says:

    Our NEW president is out of step with American worker’s. Forget EFCA O’bama………….it ran it’s course of usefulness long, long ago and is now out of step. Forget it, forget it, forget it…………

  59. Where in this article does it say secret ballots would be abolished?

  60. There is a reason unions are at a 7 to 8% membership from their glory days of 35% in the 50’s. They have in fact cost this country jobs by their outlandish demands which have forced companies to close. the union response is that it was due to mis-management of he company, not them. Union officials are in this for one thing, their own jobs. Where else can you have a nice job, tell the workers to go out on strike while you are ‘fighting’ for them, but you are still getting paid? All the legislation that has been passed over the years have made unions obsolete. Some unsuspecting souls working for a company, enjoying what they are doing, getting paid a competitive wage and enjoying good benefits will one day wake up and find out they are in a union without have one word to say about it. Then in time the demands of the union will put that company out of business and the union officials will not be there to help them. Wake up workers of America !!!

  61. If the legislature seriously believes that no coersion will exist in card-signing, they are totally out-of-it. I have witnessed first-hand the intimidation tactics of the Teamsters and Steelworkers in getting cards signed — both in and out of the workplace. The secret-ballot election is (hopefully not ‘was’), the check-and-balance to this. I’ve had employees tell me that they signed cards because they were told these were ‘attendence cards’ at the union meeting. And that’s before EFCA. There will be no burden on the Union for honesty or education of the people they are seeking to unionize.

    If EFCA passes, it will be the darkest day in American business, and the darkest day for the American worker. More funds for union fat-cats, more jobs overseas — more Americans in the unemployment line.

  62. Secret ballot elections would not be abolished however, under EFCA, there would be no need for a secret ballot election, because the law would require recognition with signed-cards. The union certainly isn’t going to ask for election!

  63. Jim Morgan says:

    The world has gone nuts. If the socialist think this is going to be a fix all they are wrong. The unions have out lived their cause only picking pockets now. If you do not believe it just ask my wife the treasurer of her union one day ignored the next.

  64. Unions are the problem, not the solution, and giving them more power is just going to further the immense cost and issues that already exist because of unions. We should be fixing these problems (aka removing unions), not making them more intimidating… how frustrating.

  65. Sspringlady says:

    I have a small company with less than 50 employees. I have seen over time what unions have cost other businesses and the employees. I think that all employees should be educated so that the can understand that the union is NOT what is needed. The union was important in the 20s, 30s and 40s but laws have been implemented that protect employees for the most part. An employer who cares about their employees have also made things better for employees. This is something that cannot be implemented. It will surely cause more problems than our country needs.

  66. Sue: Secret ballots are no longer a part of the process, if a majority of the employees sign a card.
    As it stands now, secret ballots are step two. Majority cards, secret vote, negotiation. This bill effectively eliminates step two. You go straight from card signing to negotiation. The bill also takes away the “free speech” of the employer by eliminating the employer’s right to defend itself against unionization through presenting the other choice (non-unionization).

    I believe that the title “Employee Free Choice Act” is misleading. It implies that
    employees do not currently have a choice. Untrue. Isn’t a “vote” the same as a “choice”?

    The entire bill is wrong. The process we have in place works fine. It allows for debate and information sharing on both sides. It allows for the employee to make their choice in a private (secret) ballot format. This type of vote is fundamental to our American process.

    We cannot assume that we are safe. Many of these cards are signed without full knowledge of what the results of signing them are. In some areas and some industries, a large portion of today’s working demographic does not have a fluent grasp of the English language and are therefore easily persuaded to sign the cards. Sometimes these individuals do not even underst6and that they have the choice, and either through peer pressure, promises, etc., they sign the cards.

    Today’s answer – be proactive. Treat your employee’s well and they will remain loyal to you. Show them, through action, they do not need a union.

  67. Darrel Tyree says:

    What is missing here is that contract negotiation is a negotiation, the employer does NOT have to start are the current level of wages and benefits. The employer can negotiate from zero. Depend on negotiations, wages and benefits could be better, they could be the same, or they could be lower. In today’s economy, a strong case can be made for rolling back wages and benefits. Okay, now who wants a union?

  68. I am Pro Obama, but this ones stinks to the high heavens. It merely encourages business out of the US, or for those of us located in the Mid-west, move down South.

  69. How stupid are these people. It will just send more jobs overseas.

  70. Best advice on here! Click on that link and let the administration know how you feel. I would suggest being polite and to the point, but do let them know how unbalanced this legislation is and how detrimental it will ultimately be to the worker, not just the employer.

    HR in CO said:
    While it seems President Obama is going to pass this bill, the best thing we can do is contact our President and let him know how we feel about this act. Below is a link where you can email the White House or they even have an address where you can send an old fashion handwritten letter. Especially in today’s economic environment, this is making it unfair for employers to perform.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

  71. While I feel that the EFCA is fundamentally flawed and a waste of time when other more vital employment issues need to be solved…I am continually shocked at how the majority of you so-called “HR” professionals respond so negatively to anything that is deemed ‘pro-employee’.

    I thought that was the reason that most of us got into this field in the first place. So employees are treated equitably and fairly. Human. Resources. Our positions are not all about the bottom line- because if we are doing our jobs our employees will WANT to perform for the company.

    All I hear is the fear of management when I read these comments about how we are all of a sudden turning socialist. Fear of not being able to run your businesses in an authoritarian manner…ya, know…like a dictatorship. That’s what it sounds like you all want. To be able to rule your businesses and not be questioned. This whole “us” vs. “them” mentality is what pushes employees to seek retribution. I feel sorry for the people that work for you and I would look to Union representation as well if I thought that this is how management REALLY thinks.

    Oh, and by the way, I do work in a Unionized environment and I feel that it has helped keep our management honest and makes it easier to treat our employees equitably. It creates a structure and transparency that cannot be matched, even by labor laws. I realize this may not be the experience with every Union, but in a weird way, I am glad for ours.

  72. This is a cash cow for the unions and a “financial stimulus package” for the Democratic Party….but it is unethical and reflective of the abysmal moral character of the elected leaders in that party. The argument that this legislation benefits the American worker is bull. The union that will benefit the most, SEIU, DOES NOT CARE about workers….they only care about lining their own pockets and securing enough power to support their self serving goals….and “Sell Out” Obama is in their hip pocket.

    Mr. Obama, you can stop pretending that you are a champion of change and integrity….it doesn’t take a genius to see that you are both a liar and a thief….you are stealing from those workers who do not want to pay dues or to be represented by a union but this legislation will force both.

  73. Just Wondering says:

    Cindy,
    Don’t pay the negative and judgmental gripers any mind. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. I proudly voted for President Obama, however, I don’t agree with everything he does. Come on people, we all disagree with leadership from the President to the office team leader. All this finger pointing and stone throwing is not going to resolve anything.

    I’m wondering can someone please explain how you as an HR professional will handle this ACT once it becomes law.

  74. Does anybody know….
    1. In order for a union to represent employees does the employer have to meet a minimum of a certain amount of employees such as 10 or 50, before the union starts recruiting?

    2. How long will it take for a law like this to take place?

  75. Another in a long line of paybacks to campaign supporters. Just once I would like to hear a statement from this president with a kernel of support for employers. For someone that claimed to want a transparent administration, he sure is showing how transparent he will be. No secret ballots for unionization…what next no secret ballots for elections too? Pretty soon he will try to remove the term limits for president.

  76. Kathleen says:

    There needs to be a notification of a campaign to the employer. However, employer’s should not fear this act as long as they are treating employees with respect and are paying a fair wage with benefits that will provide at least a lifestyle above poverty level. If not, they should be afraid. It is about time that employers stop paying themselves huge bonuses while workers are making under $17,000 per year with no (or minimal) benefits as in SC. It is greed that has caused this economic downturn. Now, if everyone would work together, rather than badmouth each other, perhaps a real and workable remedy could come out of this.

    Yes, I AM an HR professional, who cares about the lives of the employees. Those of us in HR should stop sucking up to evil bosses, and start caring about humanity!

  77. Kathleen says:

    Oh, and well said, RA!

  78. Just Wondering says:

    Thank you Kathleen! HR professionals like you are rare these days.

  79. To Susan:

    I can’t believe you call yourself an Obama supporter and then change your mind about him over one issue. He was ALWAYS very up front about this issue…even before the election. I didn’t agree with his stance on unions when I voted for him but still thought he was the better candidate.

    Stick with him. I DO believe he has our best interests at heart. Do you always agree with everything one person says or believes in. I don’t. But I didn’t like ANY of Bush policies and not many of McCains.

    Lets just support our new President and then do OUR part in getting back our country.

  80. to Kathleen:

    You are so right. The best thing for the country is to work together and be part of the solution. I don’t agree with giving unions (don’t worry…I won’t say “union thing” again…I can’t believe how I got bashed over something so trivial) more power. IN fact, I would like them to all go away. They do more harm than good.

    I AM an HR professional who can be both professional and a supporter of the President. I am good at my job because I CAN balance doing what is right for the company and what is fair to our employees. It IS possible.

  81. Wow…Cindy, Susan, and Kathleen-

    Maybe we could all gather around a campfire and sing Kumbaya…I’m sure that would help fix the mess that Obama is making of our country. Let’s get real and look past the BS. How can you support a President who is doing everything he said he wasn’t going to do. The only thing he wants is more power and to payback those that spent millions of dollars on his campaign. This isn’t about anything other than that. It certainly isn’t about HR professionalism and it certainly isn’t about being positive. You can stick a rose in a pile of crap, but it is still gonna smell like a pile of crap. Sure, we can do things to combat unions by informing and educating our workforces. We can take all the steps that have already been talked about, which are basically all the same old steps given in any “Union Avoidance” training. The point of this is that 2 months into this new administration, we are already seeing these radically liberal bills being put into motion. If we don’t stand up now and stop these things from happening, then what will be next? My mind can’t even fathom the crazy things that an administration as liberal as this one will come up with. When Hillary Clinton is considered a moderate in a group, we know it is a very liberal group. These people don’t care about business success. They just want more power and control of people’s lives. The beginning days of this adminstration remind me so much of the early days of the Jimmy Carter adminstration. We all know where that ended up. Basically, stating that you don’t support this bill but you still support Obama is like saying you support Castro but don’t agree with Communism. Use some logic…if you support him, then you support his ideas. If you support his ideas, then you support his way left liberal agenda, including socialism/marxism. Why weren’t people listening when he said, “we need to spread the wealth around?” Is that what you voted for?

    To Kathleen- Those evil bosses/employers can do whatever they want, because guess what…it is their business. It is none of your business how much money they make. If you don’t like or agree with how they run the business, then go work somewhere else. If I owned a business and I had an HR Manager who thought the way you do, I would be finding a replacement real fast. You are part of the problem, not the solution. Greed is the reason companies stay in business. Maybe you should try working for a non-profit organization where it doesn’t matter if the company makes money or not.

  82. Ease up DD – while we fight for the right of people to have secret ballot elections, and hopefully respect the outcome of a fair election. you bash Cindy, Kathleen and others.

    I believe in capitalism and all the Bill of Rights.

    You are giving conservatives a nasty reputation – work with facts not attacks.

    Balancing personal beliefs in Human Resources and doing our job for the Company that pays us is always very difficult.

  83. Megadittos to DD! Greed (in my humble opinion) is defined as people who do not produce anything or earn anything expect to receive something from others who earn and produce.

  84. To SMP:

    Greed can start at the top also. People who already have enough but get greedy and want more at the expense of the working man. It is what has ruined out country.

  85. Reply to Sonia on number of employees – from the research I have done since EFCA first came out there is no limit on the size of the company as we come to expect with other pieces of HR related regs.

    Technically, a person self employeed, could join an Union, such as a skilled trades union, to access their apprentice programs.

    Don’t forget, it doesn’t have to be a union, it can be a group of your employees that want a certain “individual” to represent them.

  86. Cindy, I want to see all people succeed because this is what determines our standard of living for all of us in America. People have potential to do whatever they want to do. Yes, there are some that do not want to utilize their full potential but I hope they do. I hope you don’t believe in punishing high achievers because this is what Obama is doing.

  87. To SMP:

    I do not think that is what he is doing. Not EVERY worker can be at the top or “high achievers”. Someone has to do the “grunt” work. Those people need a fair shake also.

    But you still miss my point…I DO NOT support these changes for unions but I can support the President. I think he is TRYING to fix a country that is quickly sinking but maybe all his ideas WON’T be the correct ones. Hopefully, he will listen to what others are saying about this union issue being a bad idea.

  88. The American standard of living has plunged since Ronald Reagan declared war on unions and the working class. Forget middle class, it is just a term to make us feel better. You have zero power at the workplace unless you can pass one simple test. Give yourself a raise next pay-period and if you see an increase in pay you have power at work, you most likely own the place. No increase in pay equals zero power. The rest of the objections are no more than anti-labor rhetoric. Weekends off, 40 hour work-week, overtime, healthcare benefits, child labor laws,and many more benefits are all thanks to a union somewhere down the line.
    Before Ronald Reagan, familys got by on one working parent. Today, both parents work well beyond the eight hour day and many are one paycheck away from financial setbacks. The “Trickle Down” is a miserable failure. Take an Honest look and open your mind, give the man a chance, anything is better than the boob from Texas.

  89. Well said “DD” Anybody know how to get a job from a poor person?

  90. Getting jobs from rich people isn’t going so well either

  91. RA – your drivel is astonishing, and only reveals how ignorant of business you really are. Your stipulation that “we want to be able to rule our busness without question” is, in your eyes, a perverted way to run a company, proves my point. Let me clue you in on somethiing – those that own the business just happen to be the same individuals that will suffer the economic loss if the business fails, wil be the ones that will lose thier investment in the company, and will bear the brunt of any legal liability and obligations relating to the business. So, that’s why they SHOULD, be able to determine how the enterprise will be run, including the wages, hours, terms and conditions of employment for its employees. I have worked in HR (including union shops) for years, and have a deep concern that employees be treated fairly – BUT NOT EQUITABLY. That’s because employees are NOT equal – in skills, abilities, performance and overall worth to the company. Unions want those distinctions eliminated, want to dictate pay levels for all employees, regardless of contributions, want to force the company to carry more employees than are necessary, and impair the company’s ability to utilize its workforce in the most efficient manner –

  92. To Steve O –

    This entire discussion has deteriorated. Your “bashing” isn’t going to educate nor will it get us back to the initial topic. Regardless of one’s political affilations, each person owes it to themselves to become informed on the Free Choice Act. Hearsay, political rhetoric, and bashing isn’t going to address the salient points. HR professionals must educate themselves and are in position to do so which, sorry to say, isn’t necessarily where much of the general public finds themselves. Whether you are a HR professional or a wonderful Customer Service Clerk, you will be affected negatively by this very bad law. Help people understand the facts and then they will make their own decision – right or wrong.

    To Cindy:

    There has never been a job generated from someone who cannot afford to employ people. The term “rich” to describe a business owner is such a misnomer.

  93. If Obama gets his way, we will all be working for the government, giving them our weekly paychecks and letting them decide how much we deserve to earn. Since when has the government ever been successful at running a business? Is that what you voted for?

  94. Steve O – I said it earlier and I agree. This is not a political blog but that’s what everyone is using it for.

  95. RA – your drivel is astonishing, and only reveals how ignorant of business you must really be. Your stipulation that “we want to be able to rule our busness without question” is, in your eyes, a perverted way to run a company. Let me clue you in on somethiing – those that own the business just happen to be the same individuals that will suffer the economic loss if the business fails, will be the ones that will lose thier investment in the company, and will bear the brunt of any legal liability and obligations relating to the business. So, that’s exactly why they SHOULD be able to determine how the enterprise will be run, including the wages, hours, terms and conditions of employment for its employees. I have worked in HR (including union shops) for years, and have a deep concern that employees be treated fairly – BUT NOT EQUITABLY, as you put forth as the enlightened way to treat employees – and there is a big difference. That’s because employees are NOT equal – in skills, abilities, performance and overall worth to the company. Unions want those distinctions eliminated, want to dictate pay levels for all employees, regardless of contributions, want to force the company to carry more employees than are necessary, and impair the company’s ability to utilize its workforce in the most efficient manner – AND THEY HAVE NO OWNERSHIP STAKE IN THE BUSINESS. Wanting total control over the decisions that relate to the preservation of the business does not imply that business owners should not, or do not, seek input from its employees, involve them in voicing their opinions about the enterprise, or allow them any number of forums to make contributions to improving the business conditions. Unions are NOT necessary to accomplish that, and by definition, increase the overall cost of doing business. Get it?

  96. Steve O , are you from Texas? Thank God for Ronald Reagan!

  97. Connie:

    Just because someone doesn’t agree with you, doesn’t mean they are “bashing.

  98. Dear DD, Greed is excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions.
    Business is in business for one reason and one reason only. PROFIT! Share that profit fairly with your hard-working employees and productivity soars, morale is upbeat, and they won’t have a reason to go union.
    Your philosophy is why people organize at work, they want a voice at work and deserve better than “it’s none of your business”. Their work drives profit, they are the producers of profit, the rest of the organization derive compensation from their labor and that compensation reduces profit.
    Obviously your mind won’t change but perhaps others with the ability to question their core beliefs will give this idea some thought.

  99. To JayJay-

    This is not a political blog, but the title of this post is all about politics. Obviously, since political officials write the laws that affect business and HR Professionals, then politics play a big role in shaping and forming HR. If as HR Professionals, we do not acknowledge the relationship between HR and politics, then we are often blind-sided by the laws and are unable to meet the challenges those laws present. We may not be politicians, but we damn-well better be invovled in the political process.

  100. DD – I understand. My complaint is the bashing of political parties on both sides. We need to focus more on our HR responsibilities and not Obama this, Bush that etc.

  101. The proposed EFCA does not prohibit free elections at work. If you read the entire bill you will not find a word prohibiting a vote for or against a union. EFCA removes the time-span elections require at the work-place. Some employers exploit this time to stop free choice by intimidation tactics. The vote or choice is held by the simple signing of a card. (Card-Check) If employees choose union, EFCA protects the employees decision and it is up to management and the employees chosen representative to work out a deal within a specified time period. EFCA provides incentive to bargain in good faith and get a deal done. Interest-based bargaining techniques have proven very successful over the traditional adversarial negotiation techniques. The present way of organizing can be costly and non-productive at any company. Some forward thinking Fortune 500 company’s have found the interest-based approach very successful and productive. EFCA can actually streamline HR departments. Check it out, be informed, it will lessen the fear of change.

  102. Attention all HR Reps-get your CEOs and CFOs involved. Have them notify their senators and congressmen! Prepare a template letter to for them to use. Provide the contact info for your local reps. The business owners, board members, and senior management members must get involved NOW. SHRM offers such template letters and the necessary contact info! Don’t delay, ACT NOW!

  103. Stev O:

    You are correct, I think up the point of your last 2 sentences. The AFL CIO website states that Unions generally will not even request an election unless they have 70% of the bargaining unit sign authorization cards, as a significant number of signers change their minds in the ballot booth. Both sides have there theories for this. Both sides use tactics that are intimidation to some/communications to others, but the NLRA has much stronger oversight of Companies than labor organizations. You should see the harassment individuals in right to work states get in unionized plants when they refuse to join the Union and excercise their right to pay only the maintenance fee.

    EFCA will obviously make the Union organizers jobs much more efficient. Also, without an election, you have the possiblity of 49% of the work force being forced into a Union without even knowing it was coming.

    Having a union WILL NOT streamline an HR department. You will need to add help to process grievances, and most HR Managers that were in place when the union got in, were replaced by a combination of a labor experienced HR professional and additional labor counsel.

    Read the speeches of Obama and Silas when they were pushing EFCA as Senators – the whole premise was to make it easier for Unions to organize – where unions loved the power the NLRA gave them in from the 1950’s through the early 1980’s, they want new rules when the world economy squeezed them.

    Interest based bargaining is effective when you have a business climate and product that is in high demand and the company can pass the additional cost onto consumers. It fails when the consumer pushes back (auto makers, food processers, appliance manufactures, electronics, etc.) Someone has to pay for the this and it is the consumer.

  104. Warren Buffet, an avid supporter of Obama during the election process, recently threw Obama under the bus on several pieces of his agenda. Of course, one of those pieces of legislation Mr. Buffet disagrees with is the so-called “card check.” To paraphrase his remarks, he thinks that the secret ballot is very important and doesn’t agree with anything that takes that away. Why does Warren think that way? He realizes that removing the secret ballot opens the opportunity for employees to be threatened or bullied into signing a card. Interestingly, he also commented on the economy being priority 1,2, and 3 and disagreed with the current adminsitration’s idea of “not wasting a good crisis.” He thought that there should be more focus on the economy than on items, such as card-check.

  105. I think it’s good that even his supporters question his decisions or plans. Hopefully, he will take all comments whether it be from the democrats or republicans to heart.

  106. It is unfortunate that this type legislation even gets this far. For a person who allegedly favors the middle class, this president is playing into the hands of a corrupt and discredited system. Not having a secret ballot for either choosing a union or choosing to change a union is about as archaic as having state legislatures choose senators. It is anti-democratic and unfair to workers who should not have to be intimidated by union goons!

  107. I guess it’s pretty easy to see where this is going. The northern states with the highest concentration of unions have seen jobs lost and plants closed for years. The right to work states, primarily in the south and west, Texas in particular, have seen huge increases in jobs over the last few years because employees have not been threatened and coerced to join the unions. The unions have already destroyed the automakers and now they want to destroy the whole country.

  108. Federal Legislative Action Alert!

    Today, the Employee Free Choice Act was introduced in Congress! The bill was sponsored by Representative George Miller (D-CA), the House Education and Labor Committee Chair, and Senator Tom Harkin (D-MA).

    The legislation would amend the National Labor Relations Act to allow unions to use the “card check” process – and bypass the secure, private election format – each time they attempt to organize workers.

    Background

    The National Labor Relations Act currently provides two opportunities for employees to decide whether or not to form or join a union:

    Private ballot election – When a union receives a majority of votes through a secret ballot election administered by the National Labor Relations Board, the union is certified as the sole bargaining agent on behalf of the employees, or

    “Card check” recognition – When a union receives at least 30 percent of signed authorization cards, the employer can request that a private ballot election be held. (When a union receives at least 50 percent of signed cards, the employer can either recognize the union immediately or request an election.)

    Legislation

    The EFCA would dramatically change federal labor law. The legislation would allow a union to bypass the election process after collecting authorization cards from a majority of employees. Thus, employers would lose the right to request that an election be held.

    If enacted into law, EFCA would:

    Eliminate employees’ opportunity to vote in a federally-administered, private ballot election;
    Require binding arbitration within 120 days after a union is certified through a signed card collection process, if the employer and the union are unable to reach an agreement;
    Restrict an employer’s communications to employees about the workplace issues involved in the union organizing drive; and
    Create new fines against employers for an expanded list of unfair labor practices

    SHRM supports the basic rights of all employees to decide freely whether or not to join a union. However, we strongly believe that a federally-supervised, private ballot election is the best way for employees to make this decision.

    In addition, SHRM believes the mandatory binding arbitration called for under EFCA could impose unwanted employment conditions on both employees and employers. So in sum, employees could simultaneously lose their rights to vote on union representation and to approve workplace contracts.

  109. Jay Corbett says:

    Hello Folks,
    I am amazed at the polemical liscence that permeates most of the previous emails. Throughout my career, spanning 37 years, I have managed in union environments. Some of the unions include: The Teamsters, The UAW, RWDSU, The Biolermakers, The UFCW, and the IAM. There is nothing intimidationg about dealing with union leaders and union workers. In many ways they have exactly the same goals most Americans embrace. They want the most money and benefits that they can get from the companies they work for. They want a means for raising families and providing their children with the educational and training opportunities all of us want.
    They are not Nazis or Fasciasts. They are generally good people who obey laws, go to church, support their local charitable and civic organizations. And please consider this; they have fought and died for America, whenever we have been in wars, in at least equal numbers to those Americans who came from a different economic environment. So we should cool the rhetoric and stop vilifying them. We should also show more respect to people like Cindy who clearly understands the value of making up her own mind when exercising her responsibility as a citizen of this great and free Country.
    On a professional level, I would say to all of you, who are so concerned about the EFCA, that Companies get the unions they deserve! This does not mean that I support unionization. I DO NOT. It does mean, however, that now is the time for all HR pros to assess their respective employment practices and begin a process of eliminating anything that might persuade your employees to listen to union overtures. Railing at President Obama or Democrats will not protect you from a certification drive. Doing what is right for your Companies (including all your employees) will proove far more valuable.
    Finally, my own view is that America has been far more damaged by the banking and investment people than by anything that blue collar, unionized workers have ever done. Blaming 8 % of our employee population (the approximate number of unionized employees in America today) for the state of our economic condition seems almost ludicrous to me.
    Management is responsible for driving American industry, and when we do our jobs, we have nothing to fear from unions. They can do nothing that management doesn’t agree to, so we still have the right and duty to exercise the controls and leadership for which we are paid. Rather than railing at the EFCA, we should be committed to doing our parts in helping to deal with the enormous, economic catastrophe that we are facing. If that means if some of you think you should join together to try and stop and or modify this particular legislation, then you should make the effort. SHRM is a good place to start. They have an operative there who is committed to fighting the EFCW. Check it out.
    All the best to all of you,
    Jay

  110. Jay – I don’t beleive anyone has railed aganist union employees….but almost all are against unionization. Regardless of how each individual employee has contributed to the company or to our country is pretty irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that this law is BAD POLICY, and its enactment will surely create more economic instability and will result in more job losses as many companies will not be able to compete with lower cost competitors. Your statement that companies “deserve” the unions they get is an oversimplification and mostly untrue. Many good, well managed companies that treat employees well WILL, nonetheless, still get organized by savy union agents throught a card-check system. And the unions know that. If you are really saying that all you need to do is treat employees respectfully to aviod being unionized, I find that extremely ignorant of the reality of union drives and union tactics. For someone who has dealt with unions as much as you, I am surprised you make that assertion. The reason that unions only enjoy 8% of the workforce today is testament to the fact that their polices and systems fail – and result in companies going out of business, or transfering work outside of the country to areas that have competitive labor costs. This legislation is aimed squarely at reversing that trend, because unions have been increasingly unable to convince workers to join thier ranks. Good managment practices be damned with this law as unions will infiltrate those businesses because this law is EXACTLY intended to give unions a foothold in those companies through a back-door, stealthy campaign that the employees won’t know what hit them. I mean, how hard will it be to get someone to sign an authorzation card by saying, “hey, don’t you want higher pay, better benefits and job security – if so sign here” …I don’t care how well you treat your employees.. many will fall prey to unions due this this law.

  111. Sad but true, many employees, some of whom work in HR, are of the mindset that “unions offer higher wages”. Unions offer nothing. They do not pay wages, they do not buy medical benefits – the employers do. I am surprised at how many employees in my company think the union “provides” for them when all the union does is bargain (code word for intimidation) for them. It’s a joke.

    The most upsetting piece of the EFCA or “card check” to use the less inflammatory name used by the union thugs, is that this is only the beginning. Does anyone believe that a president elected by the unions will stop here? Right now Mr. Obama has vowed to take away American’s right to a secret vote on unions. Which vote is next? It’s shameful, but even worse, it’s frightening.

    My state (HI) has a bill in the senate to “protect unions from prosecution from breaking laws during a labor dispute”. So, call it unions or the mob, same thing, but now they’ve become more brazen since our President has given them undeserved credibility and power. Pro Obama or not, on principle every single American should scream to their legislators that if they vote to take away a basic American right like a secret vote, then they will be voted out of office next time around. Oh, wait a minute, maybe we won’t have elections in the Obama world.

  112. Jay Corbett says:

    Dan & Debra,

    I read your responses to my posting and was surprised. I have been through 4 organization drives and have dealt with union organizers as part of the process of preparing for certification votes. I have also been responsible for administering Labor Agreements in Plants located in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky. I can ABSOLUTELY confirm that Companies get the unions they deserve. There is nothing complex about the process of getting unions. It is ALWAYS the result of poor or bad management.
    Once you get a union, management has 2 options: they can manage the process (in which case companies can function pretty effectively) or they can abdicate their management responsibility to the union’s Plant leadership (in which case, inefficiencies and disciplinary problems invariably overwhelm the operations). In either case, MANAGEMENT

  113. Jay Corbett says:

    Dan & Debra,

    I read your responses to my posting and was surprised. I have been through 4 organization drives and have dealt with union organizers as part of the process of preparing for certification votes. I have also been responsible for administering Labor Agreements in Plants located in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky. I can ABSOLUTELY confirm that Companies get the unions they deserve. There is nothing complex about the process of getting unions. It is ALWAYS the result of poor or bad management.
    Once you get a union, management has 2 options: we can manage the process (in which case our companies can function pretty effectively) or we can abdicate our management responsibility to the union’s Plant leadership (in which case, inefficiencies and disciplinary problems invariably overwhelm the operations). In either case, we MANAGEMENT people are responsible for managing the relationship and we have great latitude in our dealings with union leadership and unionized employees.
    Debra, your choice of the word “thugs” is unfortunate. My own experience does not support that characterization.
    Regardless, however, my suggestion is that both of you contact John Raudabaugh who is a Labor Relations volunteer with the National SHRM organization in Alexandria. Your passion and commitment is clear, and John is focused on defeating the EFCA. Perhaps you might be valuable partners in that effort. At the very least, your kind of perspective may help guide the people who will be crafting the legislation, and John (and SHRM) has the ability to reach those legislators.
    All the Best,
    Jay

  114. Jay Corbett says:

    Dan & Debra,

    I read your responses to my posting and was surprised. I have been through 4 organization drives and have dealt with union organizers as part of the process of preparing for certification votes. I have also been responsible for administering Labor Agreements in Plants located in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky. I can ABSOLUTELY confirm that Companies get the unions they deserve. There is nothing complex about the process of getting unions. It is ALWAYS the result of poor or bad management.
    Once you get a union, management has 2 options: we can manage the process (in which case our companies can function pretty effectively) or we can abdicate our management responsibility to the union’s Plant leadership (in which case, inefficiencies and disciplinary problems invariably overwhelm the operations). In either case, we MANAGEMENT people are responsible for managing the relationship and we have great latitude in our dealings with union leadership and unionized employees.
    Debra, your choice of the word “thugs” is unfortunate. My own experience does not support that characterization.
    Regardless, however, my suggestion is that both of you contact John Raudabaugh who is a Labor Relations volunteer with the National SHRM organization in Alexandria, VA. Your passion and commitment is clear, and John is focused on defeating the EFCA. Perhaps you might be valuable partners in that effort. At the very least, your kind of perspective may help guide the people who will be crafting the legislation, and John (and SHRM) has the ability to reach those legislators.
    All the Best,
    Jay

  115. Jay Corbett says:

    Dan & Debra,

    I read your responses to my posting and was surprised. I have been through 4 organization drives and have dealt with union organizers as part of the process of preparing for certification votes. I have also been responsible for administering Labor Agreements in Plants located in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky. I can ABSOLUTELY confirm that Companies get the unions they deserve. There is nothing complex about the process of getting unions. It is ALWAYS the result of poor or bad management.
    Once you get a union, management has 2 options: we can manage the process (in which case our companies can function pretty effectively) or we can abdicate our management responsibility to the union’s Plant leadership (in which case, inefficiencies and disciplinary problems invariably overwhelm the operations). In either case, we MANAGEMENT people are responsible for managing the relationship and we have great latitude in our dealings with union leadership and unionized employees.
    Debra, your choice of the word “thugs” is unfortunate. My own experience does not support that characterization.
    Regardless, however, my suggestion is that both of you contact John Raudabaugh who is a Labor Relations volunteer with the National SHRM organization in Alexandria, VA. Your passion and commitment is clear, and John is focused on defeating the EFCA. Perhaps you might be valuable partners in that effort. At the very least, your kind of perspective may help guide the people who will be crafting the legislation, and John (and SHRM) has the ability to reach those legislators.
    All the Best,
    Jay

  116. In response to Mr. Corbett, I agree with much of his commentary concerning Unions, including companies deserve the unions they get. However, with EFCA it does open up avenues and issues that had become a part of the process in the NLRA.

    As to the behavior of various Unions, my unfortunate experience was the Companies had abdicated their authority years before and had reached a situation where they had generally lost control of the ability to run the day to day operations. I have dealt with some very professional UAW representatives and many in the UFCW, UAW and another that fit Ms. Corbett’s vision.

    Maybe in this day of enlightened labor relations and starting out on the right foot with a reasonalbe work force and representation it can work. The Big 3 Automakers and UAW claimed to have reached that point. Their actions speak very clear.

  117. Harold and Jay – I really don’t think the issue is whether unions have reasonable people within their ranks, or whether they behave professionally. I have dealt with many unions myself, and most are good people. I beleive the heart of the issue regarding EFCA, and more specifically the effect of unions in the workplace is that the very presence of a union results in higher labor costs, less flexibility, loss of ability to make headcount adjustments based on performance or contributions, and exposure to potnetially cripling work stopages. If either or both of you think that the presence of a union does not increase the overall cost structure of the business, then I not only strongly disagree, but could prove you wrong with statistics and empirical evidence. So to say that this law is nothing to fear because unions are so reasonable is not something I, or most other HR people would agree with. And I think it incredibly naive to think that this law will only impact companies that “deserve” a union, or will only effect poorly managed companies. Even buying into your logic, if a company that “deserves” a union now gets one due to EFCA, and then proceeds to go out of business and layoff all employees, does this mean that they “deserved” that fate anyway..??? What good has come about in that scenario? This law will result in a massive increase in the amount of unionized workplaces, including those that treat their employees quite well – because unions will always “sell” their ability to get the employees MORE – even though doing so could well spell the demise of the company. This has nothing to do with good employers, bad employers, good uunions or bad unions..it has to do with a complete re-write of the NLRA, which has worked quite well for over 50 years, in order to tip the scales heavily in favor of the unions by allowing them to organize through a card check system that is neither secret, balanced, or absent possible intimidation. And writing laws that PROMOTE the presence of unions, especially in this economy, is simply wrongheaded and unnecessary. And, are you really saying the UAW and the Big 3 are a model of union-management cooperation….??? Surely I misunderstood your referecne to their plight…

  118. Daniel:

    I agree with you to a point. I don’t think unions are necessary any longer but I also feel that if you treat your employees fairly, they are smart enough not to fall for a union’s “strong arm tactics”.

  119. Daniel, my last paragraph was trying to be polite. I agree with everything you state in your last commentary.

    Louisville KY has lost thousands of jobs of real manufacturing jobs from Union shops since the 1980’s and continues to do so (American Standard, International Harvester, Bremer Biscuit, Fischer Packing Company, Johnson Controls Auto Battery Plant and a boatload of 2nd/3rd Tier auto suppliers for Ford, plus GE is cutting and slashing as we speak). Unions in this area were always quick to strike, constant work slow downs over grievances, and so on.

    Labor Mangement Cooperation is really a true oxymoron.

  120. Harold, I think it is a shame to see how many jobs were lost because of “greedy” union hacks. I wish people would wake up…. It has always been Labor against Labor….Enjoyed your oxymoron!

  121. I think its a shame to see the jobs lost because of executives’ greed also.

  122. Executive greed exists for sure – heck, I am greedy and beleive I earn my paycheck for the value and experience I provide in my profession. Those jobs were lost because of greed in all areas – exec’s, union officials, the employees, stockholders and let us not forget excessive government taxation/regulation.

    Cindy, do not forget that public traded companies are owned by stockholders (think 401k participants and pension plans) who demand a high return, otherwise they will not invest, and you have no company. The majority of stockholders don’t give a whoop in hell about the individuals working in the plants – as long as they are getting a return on investment. Greedy executives pay is public and set by the Board of Directors – they negotiate the best deals the board (and shareholders) will give in too.

    Private companies are just that – private. The private company I work for has owners that and family shareholders that are very well off, but they have always provided a good 401k pension plan, competitive benefits, and in our area very competitive pay for all jobs. Have not had a lay off in 25+ years. I have been here for 12 years – we are not perfect, but their last unionizing activity was about 15 years ago. If EFCA would have been in place the 50-60% of the employees who signed cards would have been successful. The final NLRB supervised vote had barely 30% vore for the Union. There were no ULP’s, no terminations, no harassment by the Company.

    The owner of any business has a right to whatever legal profits they can take from their capital and personal investment – if they squeeze too hard, they will break the golden egg – good staff leave, quality and service suffers and customers disappear.

    How many restaurants do any of the “bloggers” go to on this site that pay their service staff so called Union wages and provide benefits on a regular basis – you probably can’t afford them, or the restaurants disappear.

    You all have a good and safe Friday – watch some great basketball as a meaningful diversion.

  123. Steve F. says:

    This is a load of anti-union nonsense. The income of the top 1% of households, those who receive more than half their income from capital gains, has increased fourfold over the past thirty years while the real median wage has stagnated. Between 2001 and 2007, the median household income actually declined by about 4% from around $51,000/year to just over $49,000/year. The only way to address the increasingly upward concentration of wealth is through expanding trade union coverage of the American workforce. The idea that this will harm the economy is a myth. Many states with high rates of unionization also have lower deficits because income is shifted from the rich, who often escape taxes (one study showed that 60% of all corporations with earnings exceeding $100,000/year pay no state income taxes) to the working families who pay a greater share of their income in taxes. Unionization will help, not harm, the economy and spur a quicker recovery by concentrating effective demand in the hands of the middle class which tends to spend their money rather than save it or put in financial investment. Financial investments don’t add to the economy’s gross supply of capital stock and thus promote output and employment. Financial investment is merely a transfering of wealth but not the creation of wealth. Unionization will spur demand and hence greater investment (which is at an historic low point) to meet this demand.

    I am disconcerted at all the foolish braying on about “socialism” and other tea party inspired nonsense. We need to save the US middle class now and unions are one of the many tools in our kit to create the political reforms we need.

  124. Steve F –
    Your ignorance of economics is astonsihing. Let’s go back to Econ 101: Revenue-Cost=Profit
    If your costs exceed your revenue, you go out of business. Labor costs are normalyy the highest or second highest cost driver of any business. Unions sole purpose is to raise labor costs through higher wages, more lucrative benefits and retirement packages, and more geneorous time off provisions, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME, restrict the employers ability to utilize thier labor in the most efficent manner (due to jurisdictional restrictions, seniority provisions, etc.) When an employer cannot utilize their labor in the most effective and efficient manner, labor costs keep rising to unsustainable levels, and eventually evaporate profits. When profits are significantly impacted, or eliminated, there is no longer a viable business, which means no more jobs for the employees. Sounds like a recipe for disaster for our economic system,our unemployment system, and for individuals that depend on business for jobs and thier livlihoods. Pull your head out of the sand and realize that your statement that “the only way to address the upward concentration of wealth is through expanding trade union coverage of the American workforce” has got to be the most ill-concieved argument I’ve ever heard. This is not “anti-union nonesense” as you put it, its pro-employment, pro-jobs, pro-economic vitality which sustains our capatailistic system. If you wish to advocate for a welath redistribution system, take your argument to Europe. Either that or start your own business, invest your own money, hire your own employees, compete in highly competitive global markets, be held accountable for complying with all laor laws, assume liability for when your business is sued, then invite a union in to help you run your enterprise – then you can inform us all how great the union has been in making you more competitive and created more job security for all.

  125. Steve F.

    At the risk of questioning your assertions, $100,000 earnings for a corporation isn’t a lot of money. Also, I would point out that the highly unionized industries have pretty much gone out of business in the U.S. – steel, automobiles, etc., because the cost of those employees made the companies uncompetitive with non-unionized foreign competition. The only unions that have grown for years are the public employee unions, and they are now in a position where they can no longer pay the health benefits or pensions which have been promised. There is no doubt that we need to support the middle class and encourage it’s growth…just not sure that this is the way to do it.

  126. Thank you, Steve, for resurrecting this discussion maore than a year later. It is still as important as it has ever been, but it has been largely forgotten because of other concerns.

    While of some of the comments abouve could be construed as “anti-union”, most of them are more directly focussed on the legislation in question. In order to shorten this response, I will simply say that I agree with Daniel’s and Jeanette’s statements regarding the impact of Unions on the U.S. economy. I will also say unequivacally that Unions have brought significant good to some worker groups.

    The issue at the heart of EFCA is fairness and freedom. Current laws assess very specific and costly penalties to any employer who lies to employees about union organization. They also prevent employers from any form of coersion. And agree with those penalties and restricitons. Unfortunately, current laws do not place the same restrictions on unions. Unions may make any claim they desire, even directly lie, to employees. Any legitimate employee advocate would support the rights of empoyees to accurate information and the ability to make a decision without coersion. EFCA provides no such safe guards.

    In its current form, EFCA does nothing to require fair and accurate information be provided by union organizers. In fact, it makes the situation worse by eliminating the requirement for a secret ballot. This means that union organizers would be free to pressure and coerce an employee to sign a card in place of a vote. You will likely say that an individual can still choose not to sign the card, and I would agree. But true choice only comes without coersion. Anyone honestly interested in freedom of choice would advocate a secret ballot.

    Clearly, EFCA is not about employee choice, or even the protection of employee rights. It is about Union growth and protectionism. So I ask you, Steve, are you for employee rights? If so, how do you justify your support of EFCA, which perpetuates the manipulation of employees by union organizers?

  127. First a correction; I meant $100 million a year not $100,000. Sorry.

    Daniel didn’t expand anyone’s understanding of economics with his “lesson.” In the first place, labor costs are no longer the main costs in many businesses as was the case years ago. Heavy industries, like auto manufacturing, have consistantly reduced labor costs as a share of total costs by replacing workers with robotic technology. Labor costs in that industry have fallen to a fraction of what they once were. In addition, labor productivity has doubled since 1980 while median real wages have remained more or less flat. What hasn’t remained flat is CEO salaries which don’t average 50 times the level of an entry level employee, they did forty years ago, but over 400 times the level of an entry level employee. In this case how is labor costs squeezing business? How is there no room to increase labor’s share of the economy given that wages and salaries as a share of the GDP have fallen below 50% while the share of profits have increased to above 10%? Furthermore, regarding small businesses, studies have shown that slight increases in prices of between 1and 2% are more than sufficient to provide wage increases of up to 20% without squeezing profit margins or risking a business’s price competitive edge. Many such studies refer to Walmart and all conclude that such low wages are not warrented.

    Of course, many formerly unionized industries have left. So have many non-unionized ones. For that matter many Maquilador industries in northern Mexico have long left for China. Obviously, its not a question of viability but greed. The search for lower and lower wages always continues. This is not the fault of unions; these industries would have eventually left anyhow.

    The heart of the EFCA issue isn’t freedom. Card check has long been in existence and is frequently the way unions have been certified by passing a secret ballot. EFCA is meant to address the problem of employer obstruction. There seems no other way around the issue. Plus, EFCA makes many concessions to employers like binding arbitration, a no strike rule and no rank and file vote on the contract. This narrows and simplifies the process of contract negotiations. It seems to benefit employers. EFCA is hardly “socialist.” It seems to be a way of stabilizing capital/labor relations in favor of bosses who have grown too used to total power.

  128. Steve-
    Once again, you make indefensible assertions. As a matter of fact, labor costs are one of the top two cost drivers in over 80% of the businesses, and in the top three in over 99% of all businesses. Have we made stride in productivity improvements – absolutely. But that does not diminsh the fact that the cost of labor has been, and remains an extremely signifcant aspect of a companies financial outlays. Secondly, EFCA is NOT meant to address employer obstruction, it is meant bypass employees right to have thier vote cast secretly without undue influence from BOTH labor and managment. Have you read the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)? It currently affords employees the right to collectively form a union to bargain over wages, hours, terms and conditions of employment, IF the bargaining unit has elected, through secret ballot elcetion, to have such representation. The courts have CONSISTENTLY upheld the secret ballot as the most fair and desirable manner in which to determine the true desire of the employees. Unions currently have the right to discuss with employees why they should be represented by a third party, and the company also has the right to inform employees why they feel a union would not be in the best interests of the company or employees. This law has been in existence for over 70 years, and has been the backbone of labor relations in insuring that neither the company nor the union has unfair advantage over the organizing process, and the unions have been staunch supporters of the NLRA. Only untill unions began losing members by the thousands are they now screaming for changes to the law. What is it about the secret ballot that unions, and you, oppose so much? Is it that employees will, without intimidation from the union or the company, might cast a ballot that says “I don’t want a union representing me bacause I see how they might harm the ability of the company to compete and keep people employed?” It’s quite easy for you, Steve, to sit there and rail about how American businesses are “greedy”, yet you have no idea what it takes to run a business, make payroll, pay taxes and compete with the rest of the world. If you had any idea about how difficult it is to run a business, develop sound business strategy, attract the right talent, increase sales, improve profitability and maintain longevity in an increasingly competitive business climate, you would be in a much better position to beleive unions are the answer to improving a businesses chance of survival and growth. When anyone advocates that companies will do much better when there is a third party in the picture forcing the company to pay wages and benefits it cannot afford, and restricts how the company can deploy that labor, I wonder what planet they live on.

  129. Daniel,

    You’re wrong about labor costs. In most small businesses, which are the majority of American businesses, labor costs, figured as a percentage of either total costs or gross sales, range between 15% in restaurants (according to the National Restaurant Association) to 20% to 30% in most retail operations. Grocery retail workers, even in the union sector, make about 55% of the national median weekly earnings of non-supervisory workers in all industries. Even in heavy industries like autos and other manufacturing, labor costs as a share of total costs are falling. Labor costs appear to have increased because of the drop in sales but of course, CEO salaries haven’t dropped at all and continue to increase. No one complains about this or blames this for our economic problems.

    The union wage premium has a generally positive effect on the US economy in sustaining overall effective demand and GDP growth. Highly concentrated economy’s are slower growing ones and have a lower standard of living for most people. A 2007 study of the The Construction Institute on the impact of Massachusetts’s unionized construction workers, about 60% of the total construction industry workforce in the state, showed a positive effect on the economy of the state and the living standards in Massachusetts due to the union wage premium in the construction industry there. Here are some of the study’s findings;

    “The increase in aggregate earnings of unionized as compared to non-union construction workers has a multiplier effect on the total income of Massachusetts families. As union workers enjoy higher income levels, their ability to spend in goods and services in their communities also increases, resulting in $1.74 billion of increased income for all state residents. Union wage premium has a positive effect on state tax revenues. Sales tax revenues increase by $23.8 million. Additionally, state personal income tax revenues increase by $92.3 million. Total impact of union wage premium amounts to $1.8 billion. Total union earnings in the Massachusetts construction industry amounted to $2.3 billion in 2007, excluding non-wage compensation. The impact of these earnings on the total income of Massachusetts families amounted to $4.3 billion. The impact on state revenues amounted to $59 million in sales taxes and $228.6 million in income taxes. The total economic impact of union earnings on the economy of Massachusetts amounted to $4.6 billion in 2007.”

    Trade unions build the middle class, raise overall living standards, balance state and local budgets and improve the overall quality of life. They play a vital part in sustaining the growth of our economy because more egalitarian economies grow faster and are less chronically stagnant.

  130. Daniel and Steve both make good points and arguments, but like any commodity our labor is a supply and demand product. In the 1990’s with NAFTA we broke down trade barriers to become global – it worked and had the logical result in pitting our products (which include the cost of labor) against global competitors.

    So far this supply and demand has not caught up with most white collar jobs. This is coming with the increase in demand for technical work to be done in India, etc., where again, there citizens will do the same or more for much less than US Citizens.

    As for EFCA, opponents need to be aware of the proponents new strategies of tacking on bits and pieces to other bills; legislation by regulations, not law; and of course the old standby Executive Order.

  131. Steve,
    I find your argument that higher union wages benefits local and state economies to be extremely hypocritical; On one hand, you say let uions run wild because their higher wages stimulate economic expansion. Yet on the other hand, you rail at the high wages of corporate executives. Under your own premise, we should be encouraging higher wages for executives as well, because thier incomes will be even more stimulative of the economy, and therefore, we should encourage increases in their compensation packages too. Or are you making the argument that union wages are beneficial to economies, but executive pay is detrmental to our economic well being? You speak out of both sides of your mouth. Why is it that you find executive compensation to be signs of greed, but unions wanting more money is not? Who is runing these organzations? Who is responsible for the strategic direction of the enterprise? Whose financial investment will be evaporated when a business fails? I gaurantee you, it’s not unions that are held accountable for business performance, its the business owner. But you find it so easy to want to require businesses to pay everyone more money regardless of their contributions, their performance or their efforts. Such thinking is exactly what is destroying the very fabric of our economy and our nation.

  132. “Under your own premise, we should be encouraging higher wages for executives as well, because thier incomes will be even more stimulative of the economy…”

    The same does not hold true for CEOs and other executives whose compensation runs in the millions a year. Working people spend all their income plus they usually go into debt. The super rich invest most of their money in financial markets which neither stimulates the economy nor adds to the growth of physical capital stock which is the driving force behind GDP growth, employment and rising real incomes. Financial transactions don’t create wealth; they simply transfer property from the seller to the investor. It’s even more egregiously harmful to give tax cuts to the top 1% only to borrow it back in the treasury bond market at a possibly high rate of interest. This has also added to growing federal deficits.

    I find many of your contentions interesting Dan, since the national median income fell by about 4% between 2001 and 2007. Even union wages have only been keeping pace with an annual average inflation rate of about 3.5%. CEO salaries have increased way ahead of inflation for some time now. According to a study of the CEO earnings of S&P 500 companies, the average total compensation in 2009 was $9.25 million; a drop over the previous years due to the bad economy. Still CEO compensation peaked in 2000 at an average of 531 times the pay of the average hourly worker, a more than 12 fold increase since 1980. Over the past 30 years, the income of the richest 1% quadrupled while the national median income stagnated over the same period.

    I find it appalling that CEOs are earning nearly $10 million annually while workers lose their jobs, homes and retirement accounts. Still, these execs get tax cuts and bailouts. This doesn’t seem fair. And judging by the present shape of the US economy, it doesn’t seem like CEOs have been doing that great a job, either.

  133. Steve, why do you keep relying on statistics about CEO pay vs union wages? The truth of the matter is that 99% of all businesses are entities that employ less than 500 employees. The business owners of these companies are NOT pocketing the kind of salaries you mention, and most are struggling to keep thier businesses competitive and afloat. There are over 29 million businesses in America, and only about 18 thousand of those fall into the “big business” classification (the ones you keep pointing to) the rest of the business owners are not filthy rich, don’t invest millions, and are trying to keep people employed even though profit margins are shrinking or disappearing. Yet you keep advocating for union wages throughout the economy, and justify your position by claiming there is too much disparity between CEO compensation and their workers. I will, for the sake of making a point, concede that there are many CEO’s who are paid too much in relation to the performance of their company. Fine. But there are hundreds of thousands of union employees who are paid too much as well when compared to their performance and contributions to the company. So your point cuts both ways. Employees, including CEO’s, need to be paid in accordance with thier value to the company and their contirbutions to the bottom line. Unions wish to eliminate that distinction, madate that everyone be paid the same in each job classification, regardless of performance. In addition, unions prohibit the employer from allocating the labor as it deems necessary to be most productive and profitable. You can demonize profits all you want, but without them, there is no business, no jobs, no wages, no tax base, no wealth accumulation for anyone. Unions will bring this system to ALL businesses they organize, and this will negatively impact small business owners most severely – you know, the ones that employ most of our workforce. Employees who view themselves as high performers who possess a strong work ethic and demonstratable skills normally want nothing to do with unions because they are not interested in having a third party dictate their pay or capping their earnings potential.
    Having an outside entitiy such as a union dictate how a business is to be managed and its employees compensated, is simply just another way of advocating “spreading the wealth” to those who have no financial stake in the enterprise, no responsibility for keeping the businees viable, and no requirement that their value to the business exceeds their overall cost to the organization. If the tenents of capatalism are so distasteful to you, re-consider which country you wish to live and work.

  134. Daniel,

    Your post reveals how the improper use of statistics can be misleading. True, the vast majority of the number of businesses employ under 500 people. But nearly 60% of all US workers are employed in firms with over 50 people with 27% employed by firms of over 250 employees. Furthermore, between the second quarter of 2009, when the recession supposedly ended, and now, large firms have added, on average, a net 32,000 or so jobs each month. Medium-sized firms continued to contract, though at a barely perceptible rate. But small firms, which account for about 41% of total employment, continued to lose a withering 158,000 jobs per month. Large firms are the only ones adding jobs while the recession has put many small businesses under. These statisitics are from a conservative UK publication called The Economist. It is clear that your perception of the importance of big businesses in the US economy for employment and growth is skewed. As time goes on, big business will continue to account for a larger share of total employment.

    http://www.economist.com/world/united-states/displaystory.cfm?story_id=16113306

    I never said that every business in America should be unionized no matter how small. This would be unfeasible. Most small business workers aren’t seeking union representation and unions steer clear of them because they are financially and otherwise unpromising. Most of the corporations now resisting union campaigns are big businesses. They often pay workers suprisingly little and can surely afford to pay more. CEO pay is ridiculous. Shareholders are among the first to negatively react to this problem because it is their dividends which suffer.

    CEO pay is more of a problem than union pay. Even union scale wages are modest compared to the rise in corporate profits over the last two decades. According to a 2005 Fortune 500 survey, these top companies collectively reported profits of $690 billion. In 2007 and 2008, profits slumped to under $100 billion but recovered the following year. For 2009, the Fortune 500 boosted earnings 335%, to $391 billion, a $301 billion jump that’s the second largest in the list’s 56-year history, drawing near the increase in the robust recovery of 2003. For 2009, the 500 raised their return on sales from less than 1% to 4%. That’s near the list’s 4.7% historical average. This rebound in profits occured despite a significant drop in sales for the year.

    Simultaneously, wages increased only slightly. Thus, for all of US industry, unit labor costs dropped by 4.6%, according to the US Department of Labor. That’s the sharpest decrease in postwar history. It seems that big business is gaining at the expense of its labor force. No one is “demonizing” profits, but they should be shared more equitably. It would improve economic growth to do so as well.

  135. Steve,
    We could go on like this ad infinitum. I strongly disagree with your using total profit numbers to bolster your argument; you need to look at profit MARGINS as the true measure of financial performance. For example, when Exon Oil reported profits of $40 billion during a single quarter, everyone thought “how obscene”, and I admit, I too was somewhat taken aback at that number. But dig deeper and you find their profit margin was somewhere in the vicinity of 8% – hardly out of line or excessive considering the size of the organization, or compared to any other business entity. Look, I am not a huge fan of big business, but I will defend their right to operate their businesses as deemed necesary by the owners/shareholders, free from interference from non-stakeholders. Remember, my whole reason for particiapting in this chain of opinions is regarding the passage of EFCA. My opposition to such legislation in based upon my concern for the small business owner: the organizations with 100, 200, even 500 employees. I guarantee you, those executives do not fit the characterization you paint of the greedy CEO, making tens of millions of dollars. These businesses are the backbone of our economy, not big business, and the last thing they need is further pressures on cost and competitiveness. But if EFCA passes, those are exactly the entities that will suffer most at the hands of unionization. I beleive our differences of opinions can be summarized very well with your statement that profits should be “shared more equitably” – Although I am a strong proponent of profit sharing plans, the cold hard fact of the matter is that profits belong to the owner, and there should NEVER be any type of mandate from government, or unions, that those profits be distributed to anyone whom the owner does not wish to share them with. Let’s call a truce and agree to disagree.

  136. Good morning Steve. With respect, I don’t agree with your claim that Daniel is improperly using statistics. If you think he is painting a wrong picture, please be specific about the error and how he is twisting the statistics to fit that error.

    You seem to have been a bit scattered since your initial post. In terms of the problem you seem to be trying to address, it seems as though you are focused on reducing CEO compensation more than any other topic. If I understand you correctly, your stance is that reducing CEO incomes will force more dollars to lower paid employees who are more likely to spend their money than invest it, which you seem to prefer. On this point I would like to ask if you extend that logic to other highly paid individuals. Do you think that elite athletes should be paid less? Do you think elite entertainers should be paid less? Is there an earnings cap in your mind after which people are more likely to invest than spend? Should everyone be held to that cap if it exists?

    Also, what evidence do you have to show that reducing CEO earnings will increase wages at the lower levels? I agree that it is one possible outcome, but there are several others. Companies could pay dividends, buy back stock, pay profit sharing to employees, invest in capital equipment, or invest in research and development just to name a few. I don’t see an automatic link between reducing CEO earnings and increased wages at lower levels. Since wages are generally (not specifically and not in every case) driven by supply and demand, the best way to increase wages is to increase demand or reduce supply; which brings me to my final point for now.

    While it is generally true that union workers make more than their non-union counterparts, it is also true that unionization generally tends to reduce overall employment. In some cases unions do this directly and purposefully in order to control labor supply and drive up wages. In other cases it is a by product of higher wages (if accompany has to pay more for employees, they are able to hire fewer). If increased unionization increased median income, we would expect median income to drop when unionization drops. This is not the case. While union membership has dropped steadily and significantly since at least the late 60’s, median income has risen or remained flat. Median income increases and decreases are statistically more related to employment levels than union membership levels.

    It really makes sense. To increase median income, increase labor demand (employment rates). Right now, the best way to increase employment is to enable business. I am not saying that we should enable business at the expense of individual workers; certainly not. We must maintain a balance. To bring this full circle, EFCA does not create a balance in favor of individual employees or employers. The EFCA favors unions.

    BTW – are you at all concerned with how unions spend the billions of dollars they siphon away from employees? Are you concerned with the salaries of union leaders?

  137. BLC,

    Whether or not you agree with my claim about Daniel’s use of statistics, you should not that I did in fact explain where I thought he went wrong. I immediately pointed out that the number of businesses in the economy is not the same as the actual share of total employment in the small, medium and large business sectors. This is far more important and it seems that it is somewhat misleading to point out that 99% of businesses in America are small and medium sized businesses without pointing out that they employee nowhere near that share of workers in the economy. Large businesses are less than 1% of total businesses but employ close to a fifth of the total US workforce. The share of total employment accounted for by big business (those exceeding 500 employees) is increasing all the time due to the ongoing concentration of the economy and the high rate of small business failure. Furthermore, it is completely irrelevant that most business owners are not big CEOs with big salaries and other compensation. They control a highly disproportionate share of the US economy and employ about one in five workers. Their impact is greatly felt and is growing all the time. Their annual compensation is also an equity issue with regard to shareholders and workers; it is a crime to cut pay, health benefits and ship jobs over seas on the grounds of cost effectiveness and then take ever increasing salaries and bonuses at the same time. People in this country are suffering greatly and these fat cats act as if there’s no problem and some king of “rising tide” is lifting all boats simultaneously. There are problems in this country and they have to make some of the sacrifices too. Most people think this is common sense. It is only fair.

    CEO pay is not the same as the pay of athletes and movie stars. The later are not draining their industries and taking large pay and benefits while others are being layed off and cut back. Also, 8% profit rates, like those of Exxon, are well above the average rate for either the economy in general or even that of the Fortune 500. Exxon’s former CEO, Lee Raymond, retired no long ago with a $400 million dollar retirement bonus at a time when a gallon of gas at the pump was over $4.00!!

    It is not true that Unions cause unemployment. In the 1960s, union membership was about 30% of the total workforce and average annual unemployment rates were quite low, between 4% and 5%. Today union membership in the private sector is about 7% of the total workforce, US labor is cheap and certainly increasing slower than corporate profits but average annual unemployment levels during the eight years of the Bush Administration was easily 6% officially. The idea that unions always and everywhere cause unemployment is false and not historically born out by the facts. Unions have always raised the national median income. We need high rates of economic growth to restore prosperity. This can only come from boosting effective demand.

  138. I don’t really want to get in the middle of this argument, but I have to take exception to Steve’s statement that “US labor is cheap” — not true at all. The increase in overseas outsourcing of jobs and manufacturing in order to stay competitive in the marketplace is testament to the lack of truth in that statement.

  139. I guess everything is relative. US labor isn’t cheap compared to China’s or Mexico’s but it certainly is cheaper in real terms than it was thirty years ago. My point was that real wages, even union wages, have not increased over the past few decades at nearly the rate of increase as CEO salaries and the incomes of the rich in general. Corporate profits have increased faster than wages as evidenced by the fact that the share of profits in the US GDP has risen while the share of wages and salaries has dropped. Even union wages have not kept up with price increases in many key sectors of the economy such as food, energy, housing, education and, of course, health care costs. The income of the top 1% as well as CEO salaries and bonuses, have exceeded even the high rate of increases in prices of these basic needs. Even considering the recent financial crisis, stock market prices have increased at a far greater rate than median wages and salaries over the past three decades. In this sense, the real wages of US labor has been cheapened relative to what it was in the first three decades after WWII.

  140. Steve,
    Since you like to cite statistics so much, the Bureau of National Affairs recently released data regarding union elections and win rates. I find it very ironic that while unions are actively lobbying to eliminate secret ballot elections, BNA statistics show unions won 68.5% of them, which is the HIGHEST WIN RATES SINCE 1984. However, the data also shows that there were 1293 NLRB elections in 2009, compared to 4000 in 1985. If the secret ballot is such an impediment to unions winning elections, the data simply does not prove that to any degree whatsoever. So the problem for unions is not the election process, or the secret ballot, it is the lack of elections to begin with. This obviously proves that its not the election process itself that is to blame for union campaigns, its the fact EMPLOYEES are choosig not to call for elections in the first place. This is due to two things: employees do not wish to sign card checks, and/or because they do not wish to be represented at all by a third party they know can never truly guarantee job security or a better employment environment. Negotiating higher wages for ALL bargaining unit members, regardless of performance or contributions, and restricting manpower utilization, has been increasingly viewed by more and more employees as detrimental to the individual performers and the overall health of the business. Unions need to quit lobbying for eliminating employees rights to a truly confidential vote about union representation, and start asking themselves why employees are increasingly rejecting the union model which has led to such rampant decline in union membership. The answer is simple: employees aren’t buying what the unions are selling and EFCA is not good policy for anyone but union bosses.

  141. You completely jumped to conclusions about the Bureau of National Affairs data. In the first place I never said that it was impossible to win an NLRB election; it’s just difficult considering the obsticles placed in the way by employers. In the second place, the decline in elections doesn’t reflect declining employee interest; that is purely unwarrented conjecture on your part. In the first place, the fastest growing areas of employment are one’s that have traditionally been non-union. Most of these jobs pay below the national median wage of just over $16/hour. In the second place, there have been virulent anti-union campaigns for years by employers. They spend millions on anti-union consulting firms trying to learn tactics to keep unions out. Even after a successful election, many workers fail to get a contract for more than a year after winning the election.

    Many union battles are hard fought and can be discouraging to workers who are intimidated by employer resistance. It took the meat packers at the Tarheel NC plant 16 years to get a union contract. This was one of the bitterest and hard fought battles in recent labor history. Another example from the not to distant past is employees at the Santa Fe Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. They won a union election in 1993 despite illegal firings and threats. The Hotel/Casino appealled the results for six years, stalled the bargaining process, and then finally sold the hotel and fired the workers. There are many such cases in recent history.

    http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=321

    MIT Sloan School of Management professor Thomas A. Kochan and MIT Ph.D. student John Paul Ferguson used federal data to track the progress of more than 22,000 union organizing drives between 1999 and 2005. They found that “only one in five cases that filed an [NLRB] election petition ultimately reached a first contract [between workers and management],” which they reported in a Boston Globe article.

    http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2007/06/21/modernizing_labor_law/

    The idea that workers reject unions because they ruin businesses or that unions restrict manpower utilization is false. The US economy grew faster, profits were higher and living standards better when union membership was at a peak in the 1950s and 1960. US labor can never be cheap enough to compete with foreign labor. Jobs will continue to go overseas. And the rich will continue to get richer off the backs of the working poor.

  142. During the 1950’s and ’60’s the economy grew because of the tremendous leaps in technology and manufacturing methods, full implementation of the interstate system under Eisenhower to reduce our dependence on rail, plus European and Asian economies were still digging out from the results of WWII. Living standards improved based on the change from a more rural population to the migration of people to the city (this was driven by the huge technological changes in farming from the 1940’s through the 1960’s), and standards of living were measured not by just income but also access to indoor plumbing, rural electricity, etc. The USA was doing great.

    You wonder why union drives fail so miserably – did you ever think the product they sell is inferior to the product the company they work for offers? The Union is only a possibility, what the company is already giving them is real.

    The USA has somewhat peaked and the rest of the world, and what we call the 3rd world has caught up with us.

    Our value as a worker, regardless of title, is based on supply and demand of similar skills and abilities – even though the socialist concepts of unions has always compressed that in unionized facilities where seniority is more important than skills and abilities in most cases.

    The rich will generally continue to thrive as they have earned, somehow, the capital to create businesses, create wealth, and also create out respective jobs. No union has ever really created jobs, and in all the evidence only slowly delay the downfall of poorly managed corporations and workers with illusions they are “better” than those in China, India, Mexico, etc. Look at GM – sucked dry by greed from both sides.

  143. Give me a break. Stop with the the “rich are demons” and to blame for the plight of the poor. Business owners are who CREATE jobs, and when you figure that out, you will stop your demonizing of those who actually pay the wages and provide benefits. You spew this data about hard fought organizing drives and “virulent anti-union campaigns”, but ignore the same “anti-buisiness” strategies and coercive tactics unions employ to intimidate employees into joining their cause. Take a look at the recent events where the SEIU staged a protest on a bankers private property (at his home), because they don’t like banks, as evidence of the depths unions go to intimidate, coerce and break the law to state thier case. To say that I jump to conclusion based upon the BNA data is ridiculous. The declining number of elections is not conjecture – its fact – and declining election rates mean more and more employee are rejecting unionization and the intimidation tactics THEY utilize. And to make a statement that says unions don’t resrict manpower utilization shows you either have never read a union contract, or you don’t beleive that preventing an employer from assigning work as deemed necessary to accomplish a given task is not “restrictive”. You might think running a business is easy, profits are a given and that moeny paid to executives is outlandish. But that simply is not true and you fail to recognize that if it weren’t for competent managment, businesses fail, whether there is a union or not. You characterize it as the rich making money off the back of the poor. I call it workers who are not qualified to run a business making money off the backs of management…

  144. Hi, All:

    This is quite enlightening. I am printing the discussion threads for my Management-Union Relations class. Thanks a bunch!

  145. Lets be honest Steve. Daniel claims the drop in union elections is because of employee disinterest. You claim the reason is employer intimidation. You have no more proof of your claim than Daniel does of his. In fact, since employer intimidation is illegal, and there has been almost no appreciable rise in claims, we do have some evidence that increases in employer intimidation have not occurred. One interesting statistic to consider is that most of the termination cases tracked by the NLRB are found to have no merit. Only 158, 3.75%, were found to have merit in 2007 and 2008. 309 claims were found to have no merit. Don’t worry, I’ll say it for you, that’s 158 too many. I agree.

    Unfortunately, you seem unwilling to consider that unions coerce and intimidate employees as well. This is an important oversight on your part. To get to the heart of your true motivations, I wonder if you would directly answer one simple question.

    Would you support legislation that equally prevented coercion and intimidation by unions and employers, while providing a secret ballot for union organization elections?

  146. Harold’s statement sums up the entire problem:

    “Look at GM – sucked dry by greed from both sides.”

  147. Harold,

    The early post WWII economic expansion in the US was partly due to the things you mentioned. But you didn’t mention the most obvious two factors. First was the billions of savings in the hands of US consumers from the pent-up demand during the years of intense war production. Unemployment was 1.5% most of the time from 1940 to 1945 and all these employed people saved their money and purchased “Liberty Bonds” from the government which repaid these loans. There was very little consumer spending during the War as most of the productive capacity was committed to war production. After 1945, a rush of spending burst forth over the next few decades as these savings were spent on housing, consumer durables, autos and various other wage goods. In connection with this, real wages grew due mostly to unionization and this created a middle class in the real sense for the first time in our history. This is the real value of unions; a higher standard of living for the working men and women that actually work and build the country.

    You say unions never create jobs but this is clearly false. By limiting the working day to eight hours and 40 hours a week, employers have to hire more people to get more work done. This opened up job opportunities in the same way job sharing programs are now doing in Europe to cope with unemployment.

    The United States economic position in the world has nothing to do with whether or not we should promote unionization. There are countries in Europe with union density of 50% to 90% that have GDP growth rates as high as ours or higher and where there is even lower unemployment than there is here. This idea that big business has earned all the money is also preposterous. According to the ILO, American workers are the most productive in the world yet US wage growth has been more stagnant in the US over the past 30 years than anywhere else. Of course, people want to join unions. But employers resist tenaciously.

  148. Daniel,

    Here’s some more data about those virulent anti-union campaigns by two MIT researchers.

    “We tracked the progress of more than 22,000 organizing drives between 1999 and 2005, from filing a petition for an election through holding an election to negotiating a first contract. We discovered four main things:

    Only one in five cases that filed an election petition ultimately reached a first contract. This is despite all the cases already having shown substantial and likely majority support for representation.

    The presence of an unfair labor practice charge (a charge of illegal conduct) against the employer reduced the chances of reaching a contract by 58 percent. That is, fewer than one- 10th of cases with a charge reached a first contract.

    Unfair labor practice charges have their biggest effect before the election is held. Cases with charges were 36 percent less likely to hold elections than cases without charges.

    Even where an election was held and the union won, only 56 percent of the cases reached a first contract.”

    http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2007/06/21/modernizing_labor_law/

    Obviously, workers are not rejecting unions, employers are successful at preventing elections in the first place by intimidating workers by telling them they’ll be fired or they’ll lose their jobs because the business will shut down or move. Another study by Kate Bronfenbrenner of the Economic Policy Institute which covers the same period made these general findings:

    “…employers threatened to close the plant in 57% of elections, discharged workers in 34%, and threatened to cut wages and benefits in 47% of elections. Workers were forced to attend anti-union one-on-one sessions with a supervisor at least weekly in two-thirds of elections. In 63% of elections employers used supervisor one-on-one meetings to interrogate workers about who they or other workers supported, and in 54% used such sessions to threaten workers.”

    http://epi.3cdn.net/edc3b3dc172dd1094f_0ym6ii96d.pdf

    Yes, big business makes jobs but they don’t do it to be charitable; they do it to make a profit. Workers create the real wealth in the society. Workers will always be needed. True, they are being replaced by robots in some industries, but the blue collar workforce is bigger now than it has ever been. And many of those workers need union representation to deal with substandard wages.

    Just today in Chicago several hundred workers staged a wildcat strike at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Chicago because the Hotel management won’t recognize their union, give them a contract or even allow union organizers in the Hotel. This is illegal. The strike wasn’t called by the union. It was impromptu. The company is seeking to increase the amount employees pay for health care benefits and to eliminate family health care benefits for new workers. The union contract expired last year.

    http://www.suntimes.com/business/2320632,hyatt-regency-chicago-strike-052610.article

    Workers need union representation today. They would all have poverty wages and no benefits without them.

  149. Good afternoon Steve. You haven’t yet answered my question: Would you support legislation the equally protected employees from coercion and intimidation by employers and unions, while providing a secret ballot for elections?

    Thank you for continuing to link your sources. They provide interesting, albeit slanted, points of view. I find it interesting that people and organizations can stand so vehemently against some corporations while blindly supporting union corporations. If you are honest, you realize that both unions and corporations are interested first in their own survival.

    “By limiting the working day to eight hours and 40 hours a week, employers have to hire more people to get more work done.” – Come on Steve. First off, most unions today do not limit work hours to 40 per week. Federal law requires that persons working more than 40 hours a week (some states are more stringent) receive 1.5 times their hourly pay. If unions limit workers to 40 hours per week, it actually reduces hourly wages, taking money from persons who might otherwise desire the extra work and pay, and distributing it to other workers. Now instead of taking pay from rich CEOs, you are taking it from people who could really use it. This is not an example of creating employment. It is, however, an example of restricting work, which you have previously stated unions do not do.

    “Obviously, workers are not rejecting unions, employers are successful at preventing elections in the first place by intimidating workers by telling them they’ll be fired or they’ll lose their jobs because the business will shut down or move.” – Your supposition does not follow the data you cited. The existence of ULP charges does not indicate the desire or lack of desire for unions on the part of employees. Extrapolating employee preference from this data is clearly misleading. Additionally, the reported ULPs do not match the numbers quoted by the survey. Further, most of the ULPs are found to have no merit.

    “Workers create the real wealth in the society.” – This is not true. Workers contribute, as do consumers and corporations, to the creation of wealth. A healthy economic system balances the needs of businesses, consumers, and workers. Your stance thus far has been extremely employee centric, sacrificing business interest in the form of profits and consumer interests in the form of increased prices. I fully support the freedom of workers to elect a union without coercion or intimidation form unions or employers. The only way to ensure this is enforcement of restrictions against unions and employers and preserving a secret ballot.

  150. BLC,

    I was never a mathematician but it looks like 158 out of a total of 467 is a solid one third, not 3.75%. Perhaps, this was a mistake but if not please explain further.

    Unions, like employers, are also prohibited under NLRB regulations from abusing their power and intimidating or threatening employees both before and after a union is organized and wins an NLRB election or card check vote. Obviously, violence or threats of violence is strictly prohibited by the law for unions and companies alike. I personally, do not condone violence, threats of violence or intimidation of any kind by companies or unions.

    Since coercion and intimidation by unions has always been illegal, both under NLRB rules and other laws, there is no need for new laws. However, I do support EFCA and would support amendments to the bill stating precisely what is allowed and prohibited regarding both union and employer conduct during and after the union certification process. Card check is already permitted by law as are the neutrality agreements that often accompany card check procedures. Card check and EFCA does not prohibit or exclude secret ballot elections if fewer than half but more than 30% of the employees in any bargaining unit sign authorization cards. Under such circumstances, an employer may demand a secret ballot election. I do support section 2(a) of EFCA stating that it is not required if the majority of the workers sign authorization cards. Much of the old law is retained such as decertification procedures provided 30% of workers sign a petition for a secret ballot decertification election. Likewise, when a majority of employees sign decertification cards (or otherwise show they no longer want union representation) the union can be decertified without a secret ballot election for that purpose so EFCA really cuts both ways so to speak.

    With EFCA, employees can choose either a secret ballot election or card check. The Wagner Act (1935) also endorses card check as an option. It was the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, passed over President Truman’s veto, that changed everything. Employers gained the right to reject the workers’ union authorization cards and require that they petition the National Labor Relations Board to conduct a secret ballot election to determine if a workplace should become union. EFCA would simply reverse this provision of Taft-Hartley.

    I’m a strong supporter of EFCA because I think it will make a difference in the incomes and working lives of the US middle class. According to this 2008 poll, most other Americans agree with this statement.

    http://www.aflcio.org/joinaunion/voiceatwork/efca/upload/Employee_Free_Choice_Act_polling_memo_1.pdf

  151. BLC,

    I don’t know if you read my above post or not but I will respond again. I strongly believe in enforcing existing NLRB regulations, and creating new ones if necessary, that prohibit illegal conduct and coercion of any sort by either unions or management. I absolutely support EFCA as it is the only way to rectify the existing inequities in labor-management relations today. Clearly, the drop in private sector union density from a peak of nearly 40% decades ago to around 7% today didn’t occur only because of deindustrialization and outsourcing of jobs although this plays a big role. It certainly didn’t occur because most employees reject the idea of unions. Most evidence points in the opposite direction. It is clearly employer resistance to unions both legal and illegal. Companies spend millions every year on consulting firms that assist them with union avoidance. According to Pat O’Neil of the United Food and Commercial Workers;

    “There is one stimulus plan that has worked this year, and that’s union avoidance,” O’Neill said in an interview. “The law firms that do union-busting have put the fear of Armageddon out there with this bill…They try to scare the hell out of them, and it’s over the top.”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aWEQS_CInpY0

    Here’s something from a 2003 Labor organization report;

    “Union busting in the US is a billion dollar industry, with an estimated 10,000 professionals working in the field. At least 75 per cent of US businesses are thought to hire their services to counter union organising drives. In transport, National Express, First Group and Delta Airlines are just a few examples.”

    http://www.itfglobal.org/transport-international/ti20unionbusting.cfm

    As I said I support card check and the ability EFCA gives the majority of workers who sign authorization cards to bypass a secret ballot election. Also, I don’t understand your references to the ULP statistics I cited. They are from the links I provided so all I can say is re-read them if they don’t make sense at first. By the way, it just dawns on me that the one third of NLRB termination cases that are determined to have merit is still a pretty high number. I think the Bronfenbrenner study I cited above gives a clearer picture of the ULP issue. Here’s the link in case you missed it earlier;

    http://epi.3cdn.net/edc3b3dc172dd1094f_0ym6ii96d.pdf

    According to various AFL-CIO estimates since EFCA became an issue three years ago, anywhere from 42 million to 60 million workers would freely join a union if given the chance pushing unionization rates in America up to nearly half the workforce. These labor organizations don’t cite how they came to these numbers so out of the desire to be fair and balanced I won’t bother providing a link to the websites. I think their claims are plausible given what I know about worker dissatisfaction in the workplace today. But you can draw your own conclusions about the validity of the AFL-CIO estimates.

  152. Steve,
    What is it about secret ballots that trouble you so? Is it because you believe unions should be able to “claim” they have the support of the bargaining unit through a process that is neither secret, fair nor free from intimidation. Your reference to “union busting” is somewhat expected because you view a company’s effort to remain union free as some sort of illegal or immoral practice, but efforts of unions to dictate their demnads and restrictions on employer operations as a form of fairness and justice. But the fact is that companies resist unionization because they know the destructive elements to a buinsess a union brings. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that the secret ballot election is the best and most equitable way to gauge employees interest in joining a union. But you wish to take that right away from employees and leave them open to intimidation tactics that unions utlilize on a regular basis, and according to you, employers do as well. When employees have to indicate “yes” or “no” as to union representation in plain view and scrutiny from fellow union members and leaders, as well as company reps, you don’t think that creates an intimidating environment? To argue otherwise is just nonesense. Why don’t we just change our whole elections processes too, and just go around and ask voters “do you prefer Barack Obama or John McCain, and do so is plain view of the rest of the electorate, and do away with actually requiring people to cast a legal ballot. The arguments that unions use to promote EFCA are laughable because they can’t present one shred of evidence that secret ballots somehow are unfair to employees. Unions may not want secret ballots becuase they don’t like the fact that employees keep rejecting them – so they blame the election process instead. What was wrong with the secret ballot process when unions gained such prominance in the period of expansive growth of unions? Why no clamor to change the system then? Only now that the American workforce is wising up to the fact that unions are detrimental to job security and personal advancement, and reward poor preformers, are unions crying that its the election process itself, and not their antiquated, combative and job-killing policies that is the real problem. The unions desire to strip employees of a right they have maintained for over 60 years is absolutely indefensible and shows they only care for their own survival and not the employees right to choose, without anyone knowing how they vote, whether or not they want to be represented by some third party that gets paid to organize them.

  153. For 12 years after the passage of the Wagner Act by Congress, employers had to recognize majority sign up without a secret ballot election to certify a union. In 1947, Taft-Hartly passed requiring allowing employers to insist on a secret ballot election whether or not the majority of workers in a bargaining unit signed authorization cards. Though a 1974 Supreme Court ruling upheld the Taft-Hartly provision regarding secret ballot elections, it has been pointed out by Stanford Law professor, William Gould that the 1974 decision relied heavily on NLRB interpretations of the labor statute. Gould, who was NLRB chairman from 1994 to 1998, says that this interpretation is arbitrary because NLRB interpretations of labor laws change depending on who is on the board. “The board could develop new expertise based on new evidence and new facts and come to a different conclusion,” Gould says. “In my judgment, yes, the board could issue such a ruling.” Others disagree, claiming that the NLRB has consistently supported secret ballot elections. Of course, this could change at any time.

    http://www.workforce.com/section/03/feature/26/52/97/265299.html

    The idea that workers have suddenly decided to reject unions is both illogical and not empirically valid. Why should workers reject unions at a time when real average wages and incomes are at an all time low? There are many instances of bitter labor struggles for union recognition. I suppose employers hope this will discourage organizing efforts in general. Globalization and the shipping of union jobs overseas is one of the main reasons that union membership in the private sector has declined dramatically over the last thirty years. It declined from a peak of nearly 40% in the 1950s and 1960s to 7% currently. The US has lost nearly 8 million manufacturing jobs since the 1970s, about three million of them lost in the last ten years alone. Many of these jobs were union jobs.

    The other main reason is employer resistance. Many studies that I have already cited show that employer tactics are effective and that filing ULP complaints by workers and unions only frustrate the process even further. Card check was not introduced in congress in 2007 to give unions an advantage over workers; it was to meant to give workers an advantage over anti-union tactics by employers. Even when Democrats tried to compromise by dropping the card check provision of EFCA while insisting on keeping EFCA’s other provisions that were meant to address employer stonewalling of contracts, the GOP opposition continued. Though card check has been dropped, GOP/employer resistance remains in opposing deadlines for holding elections, signing contracts, enhanced fines for ULPs and binding arbitration. Employer resistance to even these modest reforms to level the playing field show just how powerful employers have become and how weak unions have become over the last thirty years.

    It is employers, not unions, that violate workers rights to a secret ballot by stonewalling NLRB elections even after the 30% sign up required to hold one. Even after elections for the union are successful, many workers don’t get a contract for one to three years. It must be remembered that it was workers not politicians that demanded union rights. They still continue to demand these rights today.

  154. The EFCA is the best way to go if we want to have a liberal and non-restricted workforce market. In my opinon this document should be passed ASAP.

  155. This is not about “liberalism” or the so-called “free workings” of the labor market (which isn’t really “free” anyhow. Workers are forced to accept anypay rate due to ongoing pressure to take any job just to survive. This is why the minimum wage has lost so much of its value during a time of disinflation. People don’t have any control over the wages their paid without union representation. EFCA will level the playing field. This is why we need to pass it!!

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