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One of my favorite YouTube videos of all time is Harry Potter and the Dark Lord Waldemart.  Produced by the Harry Potter Alliance, a Myspace group of social activists, and Wal*Mart Watch, it portrays Voldemort as our favorite superstore (whom Rowling apparantly must-not-name due to legal concerns).
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Walmart is a great target for Labor Day.  They have more labor violations than any other corporation.  And fitting for the Voldemort comparison, they weren't as evil before the corporation lived past Sam Wall's death.  Corporations fear death above anything else, but lose the soul of their founders in protecting themselves.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHere's where the myth of Labor Rights comes in.  They don't exist.  At least not anymore.  Seeing a new union is as likely as seeing a House elf wearing clothes.  It's a fantasy.
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Sure, you may have heard of a union or two, and maybe even experienced a strike when your garbage hasn't been picked up.  But those unions only exist in jobs that can't be outsourced to another country.  The unions that still exist, and give benefits and wages that the rest of the nation's workers can only dream of, only serve to protect their members, not labor rights as an ideal.

We have strong unions in Government, law enforcement, and municipal services.  Guess who pays for that?  Us, as taxpayers.  It used to be that our employers would try to match the government package, but once they found a disposable worker in China, forget it.

Our other unions in manufacturing only are organized in factories that existed when labor rights were strong.  Look at the auto industry, where Ford, GM, and Chrysler blame the costs of unions for job losses overseas, and their foreign competitors open new factories in the US that cannot be organized because the Bush administration will not enforce the law.  How's that help America, our industry, and our middle class?

There is a bill that could add penalties to current labor law which would aid all American whether they want to join a union or just form an employee association.  And the AFL-CIO and Democratic Senators claim to support the bill.  Again a myth.

The AFL-CIO leadership refuses to budge on a small sticking point which prevents any increases to penalties on the much ignored labor law.  Why would they do this, and threaten to pull funding from any Senator who supports increasing labor law penalties without altering labor law?  Obviously, the AFL-CIO's jobs are not at risk under the current system.  So a bit of talk and no walk is their best course of action.  And our labor friendly candidates don't give a damn about labor rights or law enforcement, they just want the Union cash.

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The Employee Free Choice Act is stalled in the Senate, and our "labor friendly" Democratic Senators continue to allow Republicans and business lobbyists to characterize the bill as "undemocratic."  Republicans refuse to increase the penalties for violations of the law because the EFCA also makes the currently optional "Card Check" signature count mandatory, which eliminates Government administered "Secret Ballot" elections.  Even the National Federation of Independent Businesses characterizes the Employee Free Choice Act as undemocratic, even though the majority of its small members do not fall under Federal Labor regulations.  It goes without saying that a Mom and Pop shop is not eligible to organize (sorry Mom), and most of the slightly larger businesses thrive locally without sufficient interstate trade for the National Labor Relations Act to apply.  Ironically, their big business competitors, like Wal-Mart, DO fall under Federal Labor Regulations, but ignore the non-existent penalties for firing union supporters and keeping employee expenses low.  

Some of our Democratic Senators who claim to support Labor Rights are running for President.  I'm not convinced of their ability to lead.  I'm not sure why they haven't explained that the Employee Free Choice Act upholds the laws of our nation, supports small business, and aids the middle class. These Senators could stop talking about upholding "Labor Rights" and actually enforce them, by compromising with the Republicans by adding the much needed penaties for the existing law and keeping the contentious manditory "Card Check" procedure as optional.  If the Republicans insist on maintaining a  "Big Government" program to administer a superfluous secret ballot election, then let them.  But with proper penalties to enforce the law, and additional funding of the National Labor Relations Board to conduct secret ballot elections in a timely manner, the effect of the Employee Free Choice Act would be the same, allowing employees a fair opportunity to choose to organize.

Of course, the Republicans might also oppose enforcing current Labor Laws, but unless the Democrats propose the compromise how would we know?  Until the Democrats lead, they merely support the status quo of corporate illegal activity which harms all Americans, whether they are in a Union or not.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Originally posted to try democracy on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:57 AM PDT.

Poll

Would you support a candidate who talks about labor rights or one that passes labor reform?

6%7 votes
93%94 votes

| 101 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  But until the American Public forms (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, CTLiberal, DWG, Wes Opinion

    a more perfect Union

    the corporations will always win, because the corporations are funding our candidates.... Not US, this is what I was ranting about earlier today

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    The Employee Free Choice Act is stalled in the Senate, and our "labor friendly" Democratic Senators continue to allow Republicans and business lobbyists to characterize the bill as "undemocratic."  Republicans refuse to increase the penalties for violations of the law because the EFCA also makes the currently optional "Card Check" signature count mandatory, which eliminates Government administered "Secret Ballot" elections.

  •  tips. Hope our grandchildren who read (8+ / 0-)

    and love Harry Potter will have the same courage our grandfathers did and will stand up for labor rights.  Our generation is just out for ourselves, which isn't the way to an equitable society.

    Please read my series on Labor, the GOP's #1 fear. Organized, we shall overcome!

    by try democracy on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:07:51 AM PDT

    •  Then Let's change it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      try democracy

      We have the power to change it, we really do, but we have to exercise this power in unison.

      IF the American People get together on only one issue,  I don't care which one, and STAND up together, we can change this,

      But we have to do it Before the private army takes over, they don't have us quite yet.  

      But the lack of comments on your blog tells me that even in KOS we would rather discuss someone's gay tendencies than change our country

      •  initiating a new union is as easy (2+ / 0-)

        as a House Elf putting on some clothes (just sign a card).  But like the house elfs we seem to prefer to know our place and prefer someone else to decide our wages and benefits without our involvement.

        As a one-time labor organizer, I totally sympathized with Hermoine's futile efforts to free the house-elves (wage-slaves).

        Please read my series on Labor, the GOP's #1 fear. Organized, we shall overcome!

        by try democracy on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:38:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This isn't even an issue (6+ / 0-)

    in the EU or Canada :)

    why are we Americans still fighting for the right to join a labor union in this country?

  •  Card Check (3+ / 0-)

    Why no compromise? Probably (my opinion) because the added penalties in the EFCA are the throwaways, the entire purpose of the bill is the get the card check program.

    Which in the absence of its necessity, appears to be directed more at workers who vote no than it is against the bosses. The EFCA would therefore be more anti-worker than pro-worker.

    •  The penalties are around $20K per offense (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      debedb

      but you are correct the AFL-CIO wants the card check because it allows them to retain a monopoly on Unions.  Adding significant penaties lets any Tom, Dick, or Harry form a union and they don't need the ineffective bureaucracy of a National Union.

      Monopolies suck and competition drives innovation in corporations as well as unions.

      Please read my series on Labor, the GOP's #1 fear. Organized, we shall overcome!

      by try democracy on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:34:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How would card-check do this? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ej25, happy camper

        I don't have much faith in lots of labor leaders on the national level -- many of them are real hacks.  But you need to explain your logic here:  how does card check make it harder for workers to form independent unions?

        I think you have it exactly backwards:  because of the ease with which bosses can attack workers who want to organize, it's virtually impossible to organize without massive resources at your disposal.  Yes, getting a "treble damages for ULPs" law would help somewhat, but lawyers yammering in front of board agents and administrative law judges is the bosses' game -- worker power as a courtroom drama.

        Under the status quo, only massive internationals can leverage neutrality/card-check agreements, and failing that only big, established unions can devote the staff resources necessary to win board elections.  Under EFCA, any group of workers can pretty much declare themselves a "labor organization," sign cards to make that organization their exclusive agent for purposes of bargaining over wages, hours, and working conditions, and have a certified union before the boss even knows what's going on.

        I don't think the Dems are likely to get EFCA through for a whole host of reasons.  But passing it would empower both established unions and workers who want to organize their own, independent unions, as well.

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

        by Pesto on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:58:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Card Check currently exists (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          debedb

          as an option.  By forcing card check and making the bill unpassable it elimates any possibility of labor reform.

          The Republicans to date only object to Mandatory card check, not to increasing penalties on existing labor law.  

          Please read my series on Labor, the GOP's #1 fear. Organized, we shall overcome!

          by try democracy on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:11:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  A few things (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            canyonrat, ej25

            First, you're still not explaining how universal card-check disadvantages independent unions (I think unions like UE and the IWW would be among the big beneficiaries).

            Second, the GOP absolutely does not want to maintain voluntary card-check recognition.  In 2005, that bill had 105 cosponsors, all Republican.

            Third, increasing penalties for ULPs is the least important goal, in my opinion.  Bosses can live to some extent with individual workers enforcing individual rights in a legal setting -- like, for instance, the rights created in the FMLA or ADA.  They don't like dealing with this, but it's not a fundamental shift in power from bosses to working people.

            Collective power is the real threat.  And the point of card-check is to force bosses to but out of a decision that should have nothing to do with them -- whether or not workers decide to form unions.  The GOP is dead-set against card-check because they never want workers to experience collective power.

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

            by Pesto on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 10:27:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Optional card check vs Mandatory card check (0+ / 0-)

              Sorry I didn't explain.  Everyone agrees that there is no way the Employee Free Choice Act will pass with Mandatory card check.

              While mandatory card check probably would aid independant unions and employee associations, insisting on it and passing no reform at all helps uphold big unions and corporations.

              Passing moderate reform leaving optional card check helps independant unions, and non-union workers will benefit because their employers are forced to be more competitive to try to legally discourage the formation of unions.  It might help big unions, but since having a huge war chest and paying for the big union bureaucracy would not be as necessary with strict enforcement of Labor Law, most likely current AFL-CIO affiliates would splinter off to more efficient unions.  That isn't good for the big Union leaders because they would be forced to perform.

              No one in power ever wants to change the status quo.  Not Democrats, Not Republicans, Not Unions, Not Corporations.  Only the powerless non-union employees in the crossfire would like the opportunity to negotiate as a group.

              Please read my series on Labor, the GOP's #1 fear. Organized, we shall overcome!

              by try democracy on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 11:14:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Okay, I think I understand now (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ej25

                I think I might have been getting your argument backwards!  Sorry about that.

                I don't think treble damages would really change the playing field that much, for the reasons I explained above.  I think the people most likely to benefit from it are union busters, who would get to charge a premium for their expert advice ("Go your own way and pay lots of government fines!").

                You still need lots of resources to fight cases out in front of the Board, and it's still a matter of closing the barn door after the horse is gone.  So I actually think that status-quo-plus-treble-damages wouldn't be much reform at all for anyone.

                As far as people in power resisting change is concerned...I think in this case most sides do want change.  I think Capital is ready to mount an offensive to wipe out what's left of Labor.  Despite the labor leaders who probably don't think there's a problem with the status quo, and who just blunder on in their merry little business union way, there are others who see their own power as being threatened -- or, at least, see EFCA as a way to expand that power significantly.  Some of them may see universal card check as a means to make their own positions irrelevant, but I sorta doubt they've thought it through that much.  They don't imagine they could ever be irrelevant, so it doesn't occur to them that making organizing easier would push them a bit to the sidelines.

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

                by Pesto on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 12:11:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Actually the NLRB provides an employee (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Pesto

                  with legal counsel for free.  An employer can also self-represent, but they normally pay for a union buster.  The main skills a union buster has is to delay the process, advise an employer to stonewall, and wait a union organizer out.  If an employee has been fired, they can get lost wages if they win their case.  Note that if an employee choses to find another job in the 5 or 10 years that some cases take, those wages are deducted from "lost wages" penalties.

                  The Union busting industry would suffer extremely badly if it was more cost effective to treat people right.

                  Please read my series on Labor, the GOP's #1 fear. Organized, we shall overcome!

                  by try democracy on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 03:53:36 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You're absolutely right about that (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ej25

                    I think in really straightforward cases, where you can get the Agent to recommend the case and the Board takes it on, then the worker(s) involved don't need to spend their own money on it.  And it obviously should work that way.

                    I was thinking about cases where the Board won't take it up for whatever reason, or there's some weird legal issue at stake -- that's where you need someone to argue with the Agent, or even file a brief for you.

                    Workers could certainly do this on an ad hoc basis or on their own -- there are still worker-side labor lawyers out there, and if you hire them they'll work for you.  But this is still sort of diverting the workers' energy into a court-room battle, where, as you point out, the fight itself is more painful and stressful for the worker than it is for the boss (a worksite fight hurts the boss directly; a fight in front of an ALJ lets the boss continue making money more or less uninterrupted).

                    It would be better if the Board worked more like Wage & Hour -- file a complaint and they're all over your boss's ass.  But even that system is far from perfect, and workers repeatedly fail to file complaints when they could or should.

                    Don't forget that, in the end, the Act was originally a compromise with Capital, not a untrammeled win for workers.  Workers won legal protections (such as they are) for concerted activity; the boss won bans on some concerted activity (primarily the sit-down strike) and, more importantly, the exclusive bargaining agent doctrine, which is what makes the Act's language about "industrial peace" coherent with the law.  Over time, it's not that surprising that some labor leaders would see maintaining labor peace as one of their own goals, and not as the bosses' interest in the deal.

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

                    by Pesto on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 05:25:55 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Republican position on card check (0+ / 0-)

              Possibly you are right and the EFCA won't pass even without mandatory card check.

              However, removing mandatory card check puts Republican Senators in a tight spot.  Suddenly the debate is about enforcing the law instead of secret ballots.

              Do they say all labor rights are bad, which will piss off all the government employees, police officers, and municipal workers who benefit from collective bargaining?  Or do they pass the bill with increased penalties and hope that a Conservative in the White House will not enforce the law?

              Please read my series on Labor, the GOP's #1 fear. Organized, we shall overcome!

              by try democracy on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 11:20:34 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I was wondering (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    debedb, daliscar

    My Husband is a union Guy, how many Kossacks are Actually Unionized?

  •  Why card check is a necessity. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, canyonrat, Pesto, happy camper, sable

    The union elections are anything but the democratic process they're made out to be.  When the corporation insists on an election instead of following the will of the workers by respecting their union cards, they have months to browbeat the workers into submission.  While the pro-union forces are forced to engage in election activities on breaks and off of company property, management is free to do whatever they like.

    They can call workers into their office one-on-one where no one can see them break the labor laws.  They can provide anti-union presentations that are mandatory to watch.  And although it's against the law, it gives them the time they need to manufacture reasons to fire the union organizers at the company.

    Card check is vital.  Corporations would love to be able to avoid it and that's why the AFL-CIO is fighting to keep it in the bill.  EFCA is needed in its current form, not in some watered-down version the corporate Republicans want.

  •  Your are just wrong (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    samddobermann

    I have to admit, you have a pretty slick presentation. But your are completely wrong on all your points. It would be complete win for the corporations if the bill passed with only penalties and no card check. The penalties do not amount to a hill of beans to any boss. The card check is the only way to ensure that the companies are prevented from doing business as usual. Namely, hiring special union-busting legal firms to intimidate and frighten the workers before the election;having intimate one on ones with the boss so they can strongarm the weak workers;and filing endless appeals to the election results. Without card check, it is business as usual for big business. Tell me, when you vote in a national or local election, does someone come in your workplace and threaten you if you want to vote for your candidate? Does the company force you to go to mandatory meetings where they frighten you with tales of what will happen if you vote for the wrong president? Is that "democracy"? Also, you forgot to mention another important part of the card check bill-mandatory bargaining with a time limit and a guaranteed first contract. This would prevent the stall tactics of companies. The few times a group actually does win an election, they are faced with a company that refuses to bargain in good faith. Yeah, it's illegal. But who's going to stop them?
    The bush-wacked NLRB? I don't think so.

    •  After 72 years of no reform on labor violations (0+ / 0-)

      lets try to pass increased penalties this year.  Next year, or for the next 72 years, Unions can try to get manditory card check.  I don't think it is a bad idea to have manditory card check, but to kill the bill by including it is just idiotic, or worse, corrupt.

      Optional card check with economically significant penalties is a whole lot better than what we have, which is nothing.  It might be fine for folks who already are in Unions, and the Union bosses who will continue to have a job regardless, but for everyone else it sucks.

      Who wins with the status quo:

      • Union leaders
      • Current members of Unions (including Republican Police Officers, Govt workers, Prison Guards)
      • Union busting industry
      • Republican Congressmen
      • Democratic Congressmen

      Who loses:

      • Average middle class employee who pays increased fees and taxes for a Union-run government but has stagnant wages, declining benefits, and job losses to 3rd world nations.
      • Progessives who want a voice in the system.

      Please read my series on Labor, the GOP's #1 fear. Organized, we shall overcome!

      by try democracy on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:26:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Optional Card Check works (0+ / 0-)

      A tried and true tactic that Organizers can use to form a union is to conduct a card check signature drive and use community support by local churches, politicians, and other community leaders to count the vote.  This used to work without penalties when there was some semblence of the NLRB enforcing the laws (pre-Bush regime).  Imagine how well it would work with actual teeth in the law under a Democratic administration.

      A company can refuse to accept the card check and insist on a secret ballot election.  They can then engage in the illegal tactics that you described.  With increased penalties the costs of violating the law will start to rack up.  The aggrevied workers can strike if there is unlawful activity.  They could all be fired illegally, but the penalities will mount.  Eventually the government will settle the case and it will cost the company far more than it would have to negotiate fairly.

      Fighting for your rights is not supposed to be easy.  If you can strike and you know that there are economic penalties against the company for firing strikers what more do you want.  Why do Unions insist on being handed everything?  America is a land of laws, that should be enforced, and a land of opportunity for those who are willing to work hard.  It isn't the land of entitlement.

      Please read my series on Labor, the GOP's #1 fear. Organized, we shall overcome!

      by try democracy on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:41:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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