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View Diary: Card Check is More Democratic than NLRB Elections (214 comments)

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  •  Question: What problem is being solved? (3+ / 0-)

    Why does labor want this? Is it a cost issue -- that elections might be more costly?

    You write that it is avoiding the the threats and coercion that accompany NLRB elections. Have their been prosecutions for that conduct? I'm just wondering because you assume that there is no labor-side coercion, based on the premise that you are unaware of any prosecutions for such coercion.

    So, I ask the question, because it seems to that your argument is based on a flawed premise. If, in fact, there have been no such prosecutions, that would not be convincing evidence that no such coercion occurs.

    Now, of course, normally one wouldn't be concerned about coercion that creates a union -- it just doesn't seem a big social ill -- except that some unions represent organized crime as much as they represent the workers. So, the possibility that workers may be coerced by organized crime -- it's easy to imagine how effective such coercion would be -- that is a compelling argument for management.

    Then, of course, there's the argument that elections serve a useful purpose in that they create the dynamics and forum to debate the issues involved -- which a card check might not do. There are reasons why labor wants this, and they're not just about avoiding management threats.

    Let's leave that aside, because it's probably true that the number one concern for labor is that would-be union organizers often get fired. Even the perception of that threat is a serious obstacle to unionizing.

    Which leads me to ask questions I really don't know the answer to:

    Does the card-check system really eliminate the threat of management retaliation? If it doesn't that leads me to ask what purpose it does serve. If it does, that answers itself -- except that I'd like to understand how so.

    Since management is making an issue of card checks, is there a way to create a system like card check -- one that is insulated from management pressure -- but also has built in safeguards. I don't know if it's possible to have anonymity -- or whether that just opens up the possibility of fraud. Are the cards anonymous? If not, how are workers protected from coercion AND retaliation on both sides? If they are anonymous, how does the system prevent fraud?

    I ask because I don't know....

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

    by FischFry on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 08:59:27 AM PST

    •  The quick answer... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zeke L, Joe Bob, Pesto, Subversive, sable

      ...is that Management intimidation will not be going away.  Management will find a way to "educate" folks about the implications of unionism.

      •  Please give a longer answer (4+ / 0-)

        I still don't understand the advantages of the card check system. I'm inclined to support in personally, if labor wants it as a second option, but I don't understand it or why it's superior, and I need to understand that to have intelligent conversations with people who oppose this.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 09:28:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Me, too... (0+ / 0-)

          Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

          by FischFry on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 10:10:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  NLRB elections are rife with boss abuse (4+ / 0-)

          Workers in this country are largely at the mercy of their bosses when they're at work (and, more and more, off the job, too).  The Board election process takes usually 6 weeks from filing to holding the election -- during that time, the boss has basically free reign to make everyone's lives miserable.  They require workers to attend "captive audience" meetings (leave and you're fired -- it's a work assignment) full of propaganda and scare-tactics.  

          Managers meet with union busters to go over each supervisee and prepare a strategy:  Lucy is a single mom?  Great.  Hammer her on health insurance.  Then the manager calls Lucy in for a meeting -- again, Lucy can't say "no" because that's insubordination -- and hears 45 minutes about how voting for the union means her kids will get sick and die.  Or about how the manager will get fired if the workers vote for the union -- do you want me to get fired, Lucy, after I was nice to you about taking leave when your son was sick?

          Then the boss will pick off a few union leaders and fire them, or put them on night shift.  Bosses will spy on workers, filming them if they leaflet (illegal, but so what?), or when they go to a union meeting off-site.  Then the rumors will start about how the union will force you out on strike and you'll lose your house and your health insurance.  And if the folks are licensed professionals, like RNs, about how they'll all lose their licenses.  All lies, but so what?  There's a union to bust.

          All this time, the boss can drag things out at the Board.  You can have 3 months of hearings about exactly which workers should be involved in the election, for instance.  The longer it goes on, the more miserable the workers get in the face of the anti-union campaign.  The idea is to brutalize the workers so that they regret ever even thinking of speaking up and standing up for themselves and each other.

          And if the workers vote after all this to organize a union, the boss can file objections to the election to get it overturned.  They can appeal all the way to the NLRB in DC -- a process that takes 12 to 18 months.  All this time, there are no negotiations, just workers getting disgusted and deciding to quit.

          So that's the atmosphere of an average NLRB election.  It can get much, much worse than that.  It's not an atmosphere that lends itself to rational consideration and respectful debate.  Bosses treat it as a prison uprising -- the goal is to put it down and make sure it never happens again.

          Unions have used card-check in the US and Canada (where it's the universal method of organzing) for years -- the sky hasn't fallen yet.  It's a proven system for letting the workers make their own decision without interference by the boss, and without inviting the destructive terror sponsored by the union busters.

          "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

          by Pesto on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 10:28:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  my experience is the opposite of this (12+ / 0-)

      Then, of course, there's the argument that elections serve a useful purpose in that they create the dynamics and forum to debate the issues involved -- which a card check might not do.

      The card-check process in my workplace was interaction- and discussion-based, and provided the organizational foundation to get the union up and running. Once my employer signed a neutrality agreement, the card-check process fueled open debate and discussion about the union and our unit's contractual needs.

      in a crisis, we must have a sense of drama

      -- MLK

      by missreporter on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 09:29:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re: The organized crime thing. (0+ / 0-)

      Unless I'm mistaken, any association that organized crime continues to have with unions happens at the level of finance (pension funds, for example).  And even that is probably not true anymore.  The days of mob thugs bullying people into joining the union are well over.

      However, there is other coercion that goes on from unions and, though it's much less violent and scary, it still exists.  They use psychology now more than muscle.  As I said elsewhere, organizers are trained that most people would prefer not to say "No", so if you just keep hammering on them, eventually they'll sign the card.

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