Currently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is considering a case that could seriously undermine the right to secret ballots in union elections, as opposed to the “card check” method of counting worker support for unionization that unions have been agitating for. In respsonse, the business community has released a brief today signed by 225 national and regional business associations representing thousands of businesses urging the NLRB to preserve secret ballots in union elections.
Before the NLRB at the moment is a case involving the Lamons Gasket Company, which many see as crucial to ensuring that unions are not allowed force workers to publicly declare their whether they want to form a union, a move that would allow union organizers to target and pressure workers who don’t support unionization. That this case is coming before the NLRB is worrying for the business community, as Obama’s recess-appointed Craig Becker to the NLRB after he was rejected by the Senate.
Becker, a former lawyer for AFL-CIO and SEIU, was widely suspected of wanting to engineer a back door strategy to implement “card check” legislation through the NLRB, since the legislation has failed to move in the Senate. Becker has already been investigated for conflicts of interest following his failure to recuse himself from cases before the NLRB involving the his former legal clients at the SEIU. Private sector unions, which have been steadily shrinking in membership, are desperate for card check powers to force new businesses into their foundering multiemployer pension plans.
The New York Times’ labor reporter Steven Greenhouse also reports today that “Labor Unions Fear Rollback of Rights if G.O.P. Wins,” a curious headline considering that the piece focuses largely on the dismal prospects for card check legislation. Here’s how the piece describes card check:
All this means that Republicans may well go on the offensive against labor, after two years in which unions have been on the offensive. Labor leaders have pressed their Democratic allies, unsuccessfully so far, to muster the 60 votes needed in the Senate to advance card-check legislation. Many Republican and business leaders say the card-check process is unfair because union organizers often pressure workers to sign the cards, an assertion that the unions deny.
Unions may deny that they’ll pressure workers to vote for unionization, but the New York Times’ labor reporter has a lengthy history of being sympathetic to the labor movement so its not surprising he would ignore the numerous documented examples of union organizers pressuring and even physically intimidating workers over vote in union elections. Unions are also concerned about the fate of other other pro-union legislation, such as bill which would force states to bargain collectively with firefighters and other emergency personnel. What’s at stake is really a major expansion of union rights. As far as rolling back union “rights,” that really refers to the fact unions are worried that the GOP could pass legislation that would make union workers have to opt in to funding union political spending via mandatory union dues. The current system makes union workers go though a process to opt out. If unknowingly taking a portion of workers’ money to fund political activity they don’t agree with constitutes a “right” — that’s an idea unions would probably have a hard time justifying to American people and even large numbers of their own rank-and-file union members.