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

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  •  I respectfully disagree. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pollyusa

    I suppose you could create an enforcement regime that would deter that, but it would have to be extreme:  criminal penalties for individual managers who commit ULPs, and a Labor Police force you could call at the time the ULP takes place, in addition to treble damages.

    Done. Many states have civil liability for individual managers for, for example, discrimination law violations.  And I have no problem with an energetic DOL.  Effective enforcement would be normative in the long term.

    What kind of intimidation?  An organizer can't threaten to fire someone, or demote them, or put them on night shift, or move the plant to Mexico.  Bosses do that stuff all the time.  How do you think organizers are "coercing" people?

    How about the distribution of a flier with a dissident's name on it, defaming that employee and encouraging his/her "freezing out"?  How about people showing up on doorsteps?  I've seen both.  

    If workers want to file for an election, they can still do that under EFCA.  

    Not immediately.  And very publically.

    A boss should have absolutely nothing to say about [organizing] whatsoever.

    The First Amendment guarantees them the right to say what they wish.  

    •  Some replies (4+ / 0-)

      If your solution is criminal (not civil, criminal) liability and the creation of the Labor Police, then you're not serious about solving this problem.  Card check exists throughout Canada, and hundreds of thousands of American workers have organized with card-check over the last few years.  This is a workable and working system.  A Labor Police Force doesn't exist anywhere, and would be an enormous undertaking.

      On "freezing out" -- yeah, I've seen workers do that to each other.  I've never seen an actual union leaflet doing that, but in an election it would probably be a ULP, and would probably invalidate a union victory in an election.  Pretty moronic.  And "showing up on doorsteps" -- in what context?  If it's a threat, then that's already a felony.  Call the cops.  If the "anti-union committee" does it, you can call the cops, too!  If it's not, then suck it up.  Either talk to them or keep the door closed.  None of that is fun for the person in question, but it's not the same as losing your job and your health insurance when you get fired.  And that stuff can come from both sides -- the firings and demotions etc. can only come from the boss.  

      If workers want to file for an election, they can still do that under EFCA.  

      Not immediately.  And very publically.

      No -- you just sign cards or a petition calling for an election.  Election-only cards can't be used to claim recognition.

      A boss should have absolutely nothing to say about [organizing] whatsoever.

      The First Amendment guarantees them the right to say what they wish.  

      Yup -- corporations are people, too.  They have the right to do all kinds of evil things.  So, since we can't make it illegal, we can basically take them out of the process by letting workers make this decision on their own.

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

      by Pesto on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 09:54:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Again, with respect, I disagree. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pollyusa, I

        If your solution is criminal (not civil, criminal) liability and the creation of the Labor Police, then you're not serious about solving this problem.  

        Unless you're tying prison sentences to these proposed "criminal" violations, the civil/criminal distinction is minimal (as the end result in both cases is some sort of monetary loss) and I'd probably argue in favor of civil liability anyway.

        Card check exists throughout Canada, and hundreds of thousands of American workers have organized with card-check over the last few years. This is a workable and working system.  

        The American experience is mostly through neutrality agreements by which an incoming union gives up key economic weapons (like the ability to strike) for a place at the table.  Ask yourself why employers enter into these agreements.  (I know why-- because I'm frequently in that Management caucus.)  No thanks.

        The firings and demotions etc. can only come from the boss.

        The argument here is not that the respective sides' weapons are equal.  The argument here is that intimidation will occur.  And you admit as much.  I'd rather make secret ballot work.

        No -- you just sign cards or a petition calling for an election.  Election-only cards can't be used to claim recognition.

        This entirely overlooks the way the card signing takes place.  If there's pressure to sign, there's pressure to sign an authorization card-- not an election-only card.  And once the Union is recognized, there's a bar on new elections.

        Yup -- corporations are people, too.  They have the right to do all kinds of evil things.  So, since we can't make it illegal, we can basically take them out of the process by letting workers make this decision on their own.

        Alright, this type of thinking drives me crazy.  

        Let me say it:  You can't be anti-corporation and pro-job.  You can make your enemies faceless for rhetorical purposes, I suppose-- but most business owners want to be a position to hire more and pay more to workers.  It suggests a business that is succeeding. They don't wake up thinking about how to hose their employees.

        That said, my businesses feel strongly that unionization won't work for them (rightly and wrongly).  If you think that EFCA is going to prevent Management's involvement from organizing efforts, I have a couple meetings I can invite you to right now.  Management is already preparing for the new landscape.  The only folks set to be squeezed are workers.

        •  So you work for/with bosses who oppose unions (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Trapper John, Special K

          Fine.  Sounds to me like you oppose EFCA because you oppose workers organizing.

          And I know that EFCA would be the greatest thing imaginable for the union-busting industry.  I'm sure they've already got their, "You cant WAIT until you hear the word UNION to start educating your workers!!!!!" pamphlets and power-points and emails all ready to go.  Every union-buster in the country will immediately suggest a full-scale, 24/7/365 preventative war against workers to keep them down.  Very, very profitable work for the parasites.

          most business owners want to be a position to hire more and pay more to workers.  It suggests a business that is succeeding. They don't wake up thinking about how to hose their employees.

          Most really big corporations aren't run by some plucky owner who sunk his own sweat and savings into the enterprise.  They're run by professional bosses and a big army of mid-managerial bureaucrats, who often have a shorter and shallower relationship to the enterprise than the workers they're attacking.  And those folks seem to me to spend most of their time thinking about (a) their authority (b) their bureaucratic goals and (c) not getting fired for pissing off their boss, not about creating jobs or helping employees.

          As far as pay is concerned, the fact that workers in unions are paid so much more than similar, non-union workers suggests that managerial pride in a well-paid workforce has its limits - and the limits are often below where the workers want them, or where they need to be for the company to succeed.

          Let me say it:  You can't be anti-corporation and pro-job.

          Let me say this: You can't be anti-union and pro-worker.

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

          by Pesto on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 10:43:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Investigate the busters (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pesto, Special K

            There should be a full-scale congressional investigation into the union busting industry.  There was talk of this during Clinton's first two years but it never materialized.  

            You can't fool all the people all of the time, but if you fool the right ones the rest will fall in line.

            by ElMateo on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 10:47:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks to both of you (0+ / 0-)

              For this informative give and take.  Seriously.  I really enjoyed the point-counterpoing.

              Much more enjoyable than the personality-driven diaries that too often dominate the rec list.

            •  What is there to investigate exactly? (0+ / 0-)
              •  for starters (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Pesto, Special K
                1. Whether public money is paying for union busting,
                1. the extent to which union busters advise employers to break the law during union drives,
                1. Whether rackets like the center for union facts deserves tax exempt status

                You can't fool all the people all of the time, but if you fool the right ones the rest will fall in line.

                by ElMateo on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 11:21:27 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The answers. (0+ / 0-)
                  1. Little, if any.
                  1. A good amount.  But they're agents of employers and therefore accountable for their misdeeds.
                  1. Why not?
                  •  congressional investigation (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Pesto, ElMateo, nyr2k2

                    I worked for a congressional committee in the early 1980s that held lengthy hearings on the misdeeds of the anti-union consultant industry, their failure to obey labor laws, and the Reagan administration's failure to enforce the laws.  

                    Reagan even appointed an anti-union consultant (Tim Ryan of the Master Printers) to the Department of Labor where he had oversight of a pending investigation of ... himself.

                    I am sure he carefully investigated himself before dismissing he investigation of himself.

                    The Congressional investigations were called "Pressures in Today's Work Place" and "Oversight Hearings on the Landrum Griffin Act."

                    The anti-union industry destroys work place democracy as effciently as the poll tax and voter qualification tactics thwarted democracy in the Old South.

                    Folks that call for enforcement of labor laws as a substitute for EFCA don't recognize the degree to which secret ballot elections have been corroded by anti-union tactics; intense propaganda, firings, retaliation, surveilance, and so on.

                    •  question for you (0+ / 0-)

                      Do you think another round of hearings would be useful?  I was envisioning hearings that actually lead to some substantive law changes.

                      You can't fool all the people all of the time, but if you fool the right ones the rest will fall in line.

                      by ElMateo on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 12:57:55 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Good point (0+ / 0-)

                        Especially in light of the wide range of opinions demonstrated in this thread, maybe the best way to kick off the EFCA legislation would be with congressional hearings that included horror stories about the destruction of work place democracy.

                  •  Little, if any? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Pesto

                    Working in the transportation sector, I can tell you without question that a TON of public money is spent on union busting.  That is a fact.

          •  More dishonesty. (0+ / 0-)

            Fine.  Sounds to me like you oppose EFCA because you oppose workers organizing.  And I know that EFCA would be the greatest thing imaginable for the union-busting industry.

            Let's just say that my personal interests lie in EFCA's passage.  My understanding of the marketplace suggests against it.  That said, this preface is just an ad hominem attack.

            Most really big corporations aren't run by some plucky owner who sunk his own sweat and savings into the enterprise.

            Most "really big" corporation aren't.  But most corporations are.  And you're proposing a national solution.  If you want to organize Wal-Mart, fine.  But index EFCA by employer-size.  Or make secret ballot work.

            As far as pay is concerned, the fact that workers in unions are paid so much more than similar, non-union workers suggests that managerial pride in a well-paid workforce has its limits - and the limits are often below where the workers want them, or where they need to be for the company to succeed.

            I am shocked-- shocked-- that workers would, by in large, like to be paid more.  So would I. Sadly, EFCA does nothing to shield an employer from the marketplace.  And, again, your proposing a grand approach to what should be a targetted reform.

            Let me say this: You can't be anti-union and pro-worker.

            I'm not against unions or corporations-- they're both market actors created by law with legitimate purposes.  Actually, you know that. I argued for a better secret ballot process upthread. I'm against Labor-Management collusion at the expense of workers (see Neutrality Agreements) and anybody being intimidated out of their legal right to freely choose whether to work in a unionized setting.  Surely, you can allow there's a difference.

            •  It's not an ad hominem (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Trapper John, Special K

              It's my impression that, despite your caveats, you simply don't really want workers to organize.  That's based on your hints about your job -- you work for Morgan, Lewis, or something? -- and your comments about just cause guarantees hurting businesses, and businesses being destroyed by overpaid employees protected by union contracts, and about the intrinsic generosity of bosses.

              I mention it because there's a difference between discussing the labor movement and labor law with someone who wants workers to organize, and discussing those things with someone who doesn't.

              On your other points, please get to specifics about "mak[ing] secret ballot work."  Would you or your clients be okay with, say, letting the workers or union determine the bargaining unit unilaterally to prevent idiotic foot-dragging by the boss?  Would you be okay with guaranteed access to the bosses' property for union organizers?  Would you be okay with a much, much more intrusive NLRB, that could send agents to worksites in response to workers' calls, and issue decisions and fines on-site (subject to appeal, like being pulled over for speeding)?

              None of that stuff is going to happen in a million years.  Your clients do not want the government running all over their property, fining them for ULPs.  But maybe you have other ideas that would cut bosses out of the workers' decision on organizing, have a track-record of working similar to card-check, and would end with some kind of secret ballot.

              I'm not against unions or corporations-- they're both market actors created by law with legitimate purposes.

              Well, I'm for workers and for unions.  It's not something to claim agnosticism about.

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

              by Pesto on Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 11:25:44 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Just a skeptic. (0+ / 0-)

                It's my impression that, despite your caveats, you simply don't really want workers to organize.

                An ad hominem argument:

                consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim.

                If I stipulate over and over again that I think unions has a productive role to play in the marketplace and I make arguments for a fairer playing field for unions (as opposed to the currently unfair playing field) and you respond by discarding my arguments as simply the Management line-- then it might just be an ad hominem argument.  But fine.

                On your other points, please get to specifics about "mak[ing] secret ballot work."

                Already have, upthread.

                Would you or your clients be okay with, say, letting the workers or union determine the bargaining unit unilaterally to prevent idiotic foot-dragging by the boss?

                Nope, but I would sign off on an accelerated schedule for such determinations.

                Well, I'm for workers and for unions.  It's not something to claim agnosticism about.

                Its not agnosticism that I'm professing.  Its just that its more complicated than you're suggesting.

                Would you be okay with guaranteed access to the bosses' property for union organizers?  

                Nope. Its private property.

                Would you be okay with a much, much more intrusive NLRB, that could send agents to worksites in response to workers' calls, and issue decisions and fines on-site (subject to appeal, like being pulled over for speeding)?

                Sure.  If you parse between violations that do not require intent and violations that do require intent.  

              •  And (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Linnaeus, Pesto, Special K

                I think for a lot of us, it's impossible to imagine progressivism as not being inexorably tied to trade unionism. Progressives who don't actively support unions are like, I dunno, progressives against gay rights.  They're out there, but they're odd ducks, and you get they feeling that don't quite get what it's all about.

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