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Tilting at Windmills

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March 1, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

CARD CHECKS....The Employee Free Choice Act is coming up for a vote in the House shortly, and the business community is pulling out all the stops to kill it in its tracks. [UPDATE: It just passed. Next stop is the Senate.] In case you're wondering what the fuss is about, here's a lightly modified reposting of a piece I did about it a few months ago:


If you run a union and you want to organize a new site -- a Wal-Mart store, let's say -- how do you do it? That is, what's the technical mechanism for getting legal recognition of your union?

Choice A is a secret ballot (aka an "NLRB election"). The prospective union campaigns for recognition, management campaigns against them, and eventually there's a secret vote. If the union gets a majority of the vote, they win recognition.

Choice B is what's known as a "card check." Both sides campaign as before, but there isn't the frenzy associated with a single election day. Instead, the union tries to persuade workers to sign cards authorizing a union, and if they manage to collect cards from a majority of workers they petition to be recognized as the collective bargaining unit for the site.

So which is better? The business community prefers secret ballots because it gives them more control over the process, more opportunity to harrass union reps, and results in fewer union recognitions. Unions prefer card checks for the opposite reason. Both processes are used frequently in other contexts and neither one violates any fundamental principles of fairness. So which is better?

Basically, the answer is that you want a process that best reflects the actual wishes of the workers by allowing them to make an honest choice free of coercion. Theory won't help much here, so this boils down to an empirical question: which process, in practice, produces less worker coercion from both management and organized labor? Ezra Klein reports the results of a recent survey:

During the NLRB election, 46% of workers complained of management pressure. During card check elections, 14% complained of union pressure. Workers in NLRB elections were twice as likely as workers in card check elections to report that management coerced them to oppose.

The survey, commissioned by American Rights at Work (a pro-labor group) and conducted by two professors at Rutgers University and Jesuit Wheeling University, is here.

It's impossible to devise a process that eliminates coercion entirely. But the evidence in favor of card checks is twofold: first of all, it turns out that card checks result in less overall coercion than NLRB elections. Second, labor coercion is fundamentally less oppressive than management coercion, since management has the power to fire election coordinators, threaten to shut down plants, bribe workers, etc. -- and research suggests they do all these things in startling amounts. The result is that in recent decades management coercion has simply been a much more serious problem than labor coercion.

The original purpose of secret NLRB ballots was to reduce management coercion of union organizing efforts, and it's that goal that's important, not the 70-year-old ballot mechanism itself. Card checks don't eliminate coercion from either side, but they do reduce it dramatically. It's a fundamentally fairer system for workers and, it turns out, a far less contentious and hostile process for both sides.

UPDATE: In case you're wondering how management harasses workers during organizing campaigns, here's a case study and here are some stats. A bit of googling will turn up plenty more if you need further convincing.

Kevin Drum 4:48 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (97)

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Comments

I'm afraid you lost me, Kevin. Could you please explain how management applies coercion if the ballot is really secret?

Everett

Posted by: Everett on March 1, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, it is fundamentally dishonest to describe accepting a "bribe" (since when is an employer giving an employee money or other things of value, in return for wholly legal behavior, a "bribe"?) as being coerced. Thus this post, and this study, is suspect in the extreme.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 1, 2007 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

When I worked as an unpaid union organizer for the UAW-CIO in the 1950s we took the workers' signed cards, when we thought we had a majority, to the NLRB and they then called a secret election. In a couple of cases the number of workers who signed the cards did not tally with the eventual vote. Management had been at work on them in the interim, but we learned that a signee could placate us by signing the card, and then vote against us by voting down the union in a secret vote. We finally went for signing up at least two-thirds of the force in order to be sure of winning an election. It was forbidden to recruit while on the job and on the clock. All organizing had to be done after hours and off the property. In those halcyon days we won three out of four elections.

Posted by: buddy66 on March 1, 2007 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Will union decertification get the same treatment? In other words, if "free choice" means that a majority of signatures is enough to recognize a union, will the unionized employees then have the same "free choice" to decertify the union without an election if they gather a majority of signatures to do so?

Posted by: Neil Williams on March 1, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Last unionizing effort I suffered through, when the management types came in to tell us how bad the union would be for us, I smiled brightly and said "I would love to talk about the union with you!" and launched into a tale of an aunt who unionized textile factories for the ILGWU in the 50's. We didn't see another necktie the rest of the campaign.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on March 1, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Important point: As a practical matter, the card check process is secret unless and until a majority has opted for the union. So there's no significant loss of secrecy.

Posted by: tom on March 1, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Love the update, kevin. 51% of employees are "coerced" by being offered something of value.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 1, 2007 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

For all of the criticism of the non-binding resolutions regarding the war, where is that same noise on this? This will amount to nothing but a de fact "House only resolution" about card checks.

Bush isn't going to sign it. The senate isn't going to pass it, or even vote on it, because Reid has shown that there's no point in forcing the other side to actually execute a filibuster.

Democrats keep bringing knives to gunfights.

Posted by: Jon on March 1, 2007 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

Good lawd, Will, can't you get anything correct?

The source Kevin linked to says that 51% of employers coerce workers through bribery or favoritism, not that 51% of employees are coerced.

Posted by: Disputo on March 1, 2007 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: The business community prefers secret ballots because it gives them more control over the process, more opportunity to harrass union reps, and results in fewer union recognitions. Unions prefer card checks for the opposite reason

Everett beat me to it, but this makes no sense. The lack of a secret ballot enables either management or the union to harass those who vote against them. Unions dislike the secret ballot because they're the side that practices harassment.

Posted by: ex-liberal on March 1, 2007 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

To all the many Everetts out there, the way coercion commonly happens is this:

During the weeks or months in between the announcement of the date of the NLRB vote and the vote itself, management runs its coercive actions. The tactics include ones mentioned by Kevin, but extend into many other terrifying areas.

Don't worry, Everett, you'll be reading some stories in this threat that'll curl your toes.

Posted by: centerfielddj on March 1, 2007 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

I love how faux-lib pushes his agenda in the face of all empirical evidence. You go grrrrrl!

Posted by: Disputo on March 1, 2007 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Queer idea, secret ballots mean more ability to coerce.

It may be in the US that the preparatory period may require better supervision, but that has fuck all to do with secret ballots.

Special pleading, this idiot argument.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on March 1, 2007 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

Good lawd, disputo, can't you grasp the point, as opposed to the trivia? Yes, I wrote the wrong word. Good lawd, can't you grasp that the point is that it is fundamentally dishonest to describe offering something of value to someone as coercion?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 1, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Unions dislike the secret ballot because they're the side that practices harassment.

then why do only 14% of employees report harassment by unions during card checks? The facts prove you wrong.

51% of employees are "coerced" by being offered something of value.

it isn't just being offered extra money that management wouldn't otherwise offer them--it's false threats that they'll be forced to shut down facilities, reduce number of employees, along with all sorts of harassment against union organizers.
If you're against employees' right to organize, just say so, but don't try to frame the debate and the terms in such an obviously dishonest way.


Posted by: haha on March 1, 2007 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

not be beat this too much, but you wrote ...

Love the update, kevin. 51% of employees are "coerced" by being offered something of value.
Posted by: Will Allen

and then misunderstood the link, thereby prompting this ...

Good lawd, disputo, can't you grasp the point, as opposed to the trivia? Yes, I wrote the wrong word.
Posted by: Will Allen

this is more than one mistype. indeed, it is miscomprehension, thereby calling into question your reading abilities. thus your post is suspect in the extreme.

Posted by: Nads on March 1, 2007 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

Nads, misreading the word "employee" for "employer" is mistake. Calling an offer of something of value a form of coercion is an attempt to deceive. Are you too dense to grasp the difference?

haha, the study labels money and favors as coercion. Those aren't threats. Stop being dishonest.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 1, 2007 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

(since when is an employer giving an employee money or other things of value, in return for wholly legal behavior, a "bribe"?

maybe you should have consulted a dictionary, or dictionary.com, first.

from the American Heritage definition of "bribe"--

n.

1. Something, such as money or a favor, offered or given to a person in a position of trust to influence that person's views or conduct.
2. Something serving to influence or persuade.

--note how it says nothing about the behavior that you're attempting to influence or persuade necessarily being illegal.

Now let's all sit back and watch Will spin this.

Posted by: haha on March 1, 2007 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno... Kevin's points seem too complex to me.

What happened to: Both sides make their case, employees get a secret ballot vote and vote whatever way they feel. You tally up the votes and either the Union wins or they don't.

Posted by: pencarrow on March 1, 2007 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is drawing conclusions from the data that aren't warranted. The only way to get a card check under current law is to have the employer agree to it. Since card check certification is more likely to lead to union recognition, only employers who do not (strongly) oppose union recognition consent to card check certification. These employers are also unlikely to engage in coercive practices to pressure workers. Conversely, the employer's consent to card check indicates that not much worker coercion by the union or fellow employees is necessary to achieve unionization, since union certification is highly likely in this situation, where the employer has already indicated that it finds unionization a foregone conclusion.

In short, employers fall into two groups: those that oppose unionization and those that don't. Those that don't oppose unionization allow card check and don't pressure workers. Unions also don't pressure workers since the employer's behavior and card check make unionization likely in any case. Employers that oppose unionization don't consent to card check, pressure workers in the secret election, and unions apply pressure as well.

So one of the mechanisms that creates differences in coercive practices is the difference in employer attitudes, not the modality of union certification. Beyond that, there may also be a difference that arises from the modality of union certification, but I'd be surprised if this difference is as large as the difference arising from employer attitudes. It would be nice to disentangle the two effects, but how to do so isn't obvious.

Posted by: stefan on March 1, 2007 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, I thought post/AEI-global warming hubbub, any study commissioned by those with a political slant was worthless on this site. Yet all the "data" supporting Kevin's argument comes from studies commissioned by American Rights at Work which is a wee bit more than a "pro-union group" what with David Bonior running the place and John Sweeney, of President of the AFL-CIO fame, on the board.
Plus coercion has a popular meaning and a narrow legal meaning. Think the survey respondents were informed of the legal definition and their examples of coercion then tested against that standard? Or was "yeah I was coerced" enough for the purposes of this study?
If anyone was truly interested in election reform, and there's good arguments for making measured changes to many NLRB procedures including this one, they'd start with something less drastic like penalties, expediting hearings, etc. But employee choice is the last thing on anyone's mind here, this is all about creating more union members who will then be forced to put more dues into bigger political slush funds that are available almost exclusively to the Democrats.

Posted by: scouser on March 1, 2007 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

haha, the study labels money and favors as coercion. Those aren't threats.

I didn't say they were. If you're going to be a liar, try not to be so obvious about it. You're deliberately ignoring key parts of the case study, which does in fact cite threatening and harassing behavior by management--

Not long after 21 of the 23 drivers in Northborough petitioned last fall for an election to join the Teamsters, FedEx dismissed five union supporters and six others quit, with several complaining that managers had made their lives unbearable.

"They started to harass and intimidate everybody," Mr. Williams said. "Some people they tried to starve out. Instead of giving 120 to 130 packages, they cut it to 60 or 70 to reduce the money."

Now when it comes to money and favors in this instance, they are in fact bribes, which is a form of coercion. Again, it's a rather simple definition for most of us, and doesn't necessarily involve illegal behavior by the inducer or the ones being induced.

Posted by: haha on March 1, 2007 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

Well, haha, by your measure, then, employers don't pay employees, they bribe them. After all, a wage serves to persuade an employee to take a job. My, what an honest user of language you are!

Next, you may have not labeled offering something of value a form of coercion, but kevin certainly did, when he wrote.....

"But the evidence in favor of card checks is twofold: first of all, it turns out that card checks result in less overall coercion than NLRB elections. Second, labor coercion is fundamentally less oppressive than management coercion, since management has the power to fire election coordinators, threaten to shut down plants, bribe workers, etc. -- and research suggests they do all these things in startling amounts."

....which is deliberate dishonesty. A person who is willing to call the offer of money, or something else of value, in return for desired behavior, an attempt at coercion, is attempting to deceive.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 1, 2007 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, I'd be all in favor of ramping up NLRB funding and setting the bar for the calling of an election very low; along the lines of 20 employees signing a petition, and sending it in secrecy to the NLRB, which could come in and hold an election within 10 days, without prior notice. Of course, the union should be decertified just as easily.

When people put out studies which have such obvious dishonest intent, however, it causes a reasonble person to wonder what else is being disingenuously described.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 1, 2007 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

I am quite impressed how Will can continue standing completely within that square inch of unpainted floor there in the corner.

Posted by: Disputo on March 1, 2007 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

Go ahead, Disputo, explain from your little corner how giving somebody money is a form of coercion, and why someone who deliberately uses language in that fashion should be trusted.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 1, 2007 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Will: forget money as coercion for a minute, which is a subtlety you're incapable of grasping, apparently, and address the article Kevin linked to about the threats, harassment, firings of Fed-Ex employees and the featherbedding of the office with ``managers.'' Does firing someone for expressing interest in a union coerce the remaining drivers or is it just good business or are you just going to make another tiresome, poorly thought out semantic argument against that too?

Posted by: secularhuman on March 1, 2007 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

Why don't the unions just start their own businesses?

I've never met a union worker that I didn't think was afraid of a hard days work.

Posted by: mark on March 1, 2007 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

Why isn't the Washington Monthly unionizied.

Hypocrits.

Posted by: mark on March 1, 2007 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

Lets have Will at least try to explore the area beyond his square inch in the corner.

Working on the metaphor of democratic elections, which seems to motivate the pro-business side of this debate...would you consider an election free and fair where on election day citizens could vote by secret ballot, but in the run-up:

* organizers and canvassers for the opposition party could be fired from their jobs, with effectively no recourse;

* the opposition party's voters may be told that state funds would be cut off in their communities, thereby imperilling essential services, schools and the like;

* the ruling party was free to campaign at any time, anywhere, but the opposition party could only do so after working time;

* the ruling party could take individuals aside at work and on the company clock and "educate" them about the pitfalls of voting for the opposition party?

I'd say that someone like Will, who deliberately avoids a thorough assessment of whether the NLRB election process bears ANY similiarity to a minimally democratic political electoral process should not be trusted.


Posted by: Friend of Labor on March 1, 2007 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

So, Democrats score another victory for the wage earner.

First, it was the 100 hours:

-- Implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 commission.


-- Raising the minimum wage.


-- Halving the interest rate on college student loans.


-- Rolling back subsidies to big oil companies.


-- Stopping any privatization of Social Security.


-- Committing to no new deficit spending.


-- Authorizing the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare.

And coming is health care for all children and for the uninsured.

The list goes on and on and on.

Democrats for; Republicans against.

The point here is aimed at those who for reasons unknown to me hold that there is no difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

The difference is between night and day. (see above).

Why do some say otherwise?

Posted by: bert on March 1, 2007 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Mark, Ex-Liberal (you still haven't demonstrated your past liberal leanings), Will Allen,

I have been hearing this debate for weeks, since I first learned of the attempt to reform the NLRA, after 70 years (there are very few laws in this nation that remain unamended for so long). I have heard of the various methods that can and are being used by companies (firings and so forth). Yet I have not heard how unions are coercing workers. How are unions able to coerce workers? How is the unions' efforts at coercion stronger than or equal to companies' publicized efforts?

Posted by: Noah on March 1, 2007 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

Yet I have not heard how unions are coercing workers. How are unions able to coerce workers? How is the unions' efforts at coercion stronger than or equal to companies' publicized efforts?

The same way that all those wealthy fat-cat environmentalists are able to outspend the struggling oil industry in order to coerce scientists to falsify their global warming research results....

Posted by: Disputo on March 1, 2007 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Secular, what is written in that report regarding "bribes" and "coercion" is not a "subtlety" that needs to be grasped. It is a lie. The fact that you lack the honesty to plainly state that it is deceitful to assert that offering someone something of value is "coercion", is indicative that you wish to lie about the matter as well.

Friend of labor, I'd be happy to address the rest of the report once the report is honestly written. As I stated above, once someone engages in blatant deceit, it is perfectly reasonable to suspect they are being deceitful in other areas as well. If someone who was paid by an organization which had goals kevin opposed had written a report that used language is such a dishonest fashion, kevin would treat it with scorn, and rightfully so. Because the writers of this report come to conclusions that kevin agrees with, he finds the the dishonest use of language acceptable. I suspect this is the case with you as well.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 1, 2007 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Noah, I make no representations as to whether management or unions are more coercive. I don't know. What I object to is the dishonest use of the word "coercion", and I suspect that people who blatantly use the word in a dishonest fashion are lying about other things as well.

As to the specifics of how unions coerce people, I've witnessed people physically assaulted for not adhering to a union's professed goals, but I make no representation as to how frequently such occurences, or threats of that nature, take place.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 1, 2007 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

Will, you silly person.

Various folks have offered you an opportunity to get out of an irrelevant side argument.

You may wish to wait to "address the rest of the report" until it is rewritten to your satisfaction, but your reluctance does nothing to alter some well established facts about the undemocratic character of NLRB elections.

If, for reasons uniquely your own, you don't particularly like this current report, go read the work of Lance Compa, Gordan Lafer, or a number of others who've investigated this very issue.

Posted by: Friend of Labor on March 1, 2007 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Friend of Labor, I understand you think that lying about the responses one gets in the course of conducting a survey is a silly and irrelevant matter. That is why you lack credibility.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 1, 2007 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

Will Allen,

That is a very dangerous assertion that physical violence or intimidation is involved. Can you demonstrate that? or are you just throwing that slander out hoping it will strike home?

Posted by: Noah on March 1, 2007 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

Will, surely you have something of greater value to add to this discussion, or are you going to continue coercing us with this irrelevance?

Go and do your homework on the issue under discussion and then we'll pay attention to you again.

Posted by: Friend of Labor on March 1, 2007 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

Noah - you are kidding about physical violence, right? If not, check out the Teamsters shootings, bricks thrown into cabs of moving trucks, cut brake lines and other fun stuff in the Overnite campaign. There's also an Engineers local near Chicago that specializes in intimidating employees and destroying the equipment of companies that don't tow the line. NLRB case law also recognizes a level of acceptable intimidation and violence in strike situations.

Posted by: scouser on March 1, 2007 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

Oh for fuck's sake. Now Kevin comes out against secret ballots.

What a pathetic, crawly little toady he is. This Dem apologist has no shame.

Talk about "authoritarian cultists"?

Posted by: am on March 1, 2007 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

Noah, on what basis do you assert that I have slandered anyone? Do you normally make such assertions without having any facts with which to examine the matter? The irony is rich.

Yes, Freind of labor, you've amply demonstrated that lying in pursuit of one's goals is a tactic you fully support. Congratulations.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 1, 2007 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Kevin and the Dems here would support doing away with the secret ballot in federal, state and local elections. Would they argue that ending the secret ballot would help protect voters from coercion? I think not.

Posted by: ex-liberal on March 1, 2007 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

And though it's been said before, many times, many ways...Will Allen is a deeply weird person.

Posted by: tht on March 1, 2007 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

Will Allen: which part of the NLRA don't you understand?

"it is fundamentally dishonest to describe accepting a "bribe" (since when is an employer giving an employee money or other things of value, in return for wholly legal behavior, a "bribe"?) as being coerced. Thus this post, and this study, is suspect in the extreme.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 1, 2007 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK


You may think it is "fundamentally dishonest" to describe a bribe as coercion.

Fortunately the NLRB doesn't agree with you. They call it an "unfair labor practice," and it is illegal.

Now, please move on.

Posted by: Friend of Labor on March 1, 2007 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, tht, for demonstrating the typical high level of discourse which results when someone in this forum strikes a discordant note in the echo chamber. Your remarks are so, so, illuminating.

If I were to respond, "So's yer' mother!", could I approximate the extremely high level of intellectual development which you have attained?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 1, 2007 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

Friend of Labor, perhaps you can explain on what planet "unfair labor practice" is synonymous with "coercion"? If your reply is the planet of Capitol Hill, well, that is a body which quite regularly lies in the very titles of the laws it passes (need I write them here?), so if we are to discuss anything with a modicum of integrity, please don't bring up anything written by Congress.

In the real world, offering something of value to someone is not coercion, and you are lying when you say otherwise. Are you truly going to contend that offering something of value to someone is a form of coercion?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 2, 2007 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

Why bother with elections at all? Surely the law doesn't prevent a minority of the workers at a company from organizing without cooperation of the others, does it?

Posted by: Brandon Berg on March 2, 2007 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

FOL Unions But Employees Not So Much - you purposely overlook the fact that unions are created by statute and, as with any law, certain compromises were made. So democracy is defined within the context of the NLRA; if you want a constitutional level of democracy, scrap the statute and try justifying unions under a Constitutional article or amendment. Nor were those compromises entirely one sided. Thus we get basic stuff you conveniently fail to mention like

* the "laboratory conditions" under which elections are to be run which amount to adults being treated like children and the violation of which results in a rerun election;

* Unions can promise employees that, if the Union is voted in, the employees will get the sun and the moon while employers can't promise anything and their speech is highly restricted.

As for your criticisms, none of which support tanking 70 years of labor law:

* organizers and canvassers for the opposition party could be fired from their jobs, with effectively no recourse;
But there is recourse. If they're not effective enough, propose changes to the remedies. If the process is too slow, change that. These seem to be the basic steps before gutting secret ballots.
* the opposition party's voters may be told that state funds would be cut off in their communities, thereby imperilling essential services, schools and the like;

Well you know that the law restricts employers from threatening closure. And the heart of the matter is that you and others like you want employees to get just one side of the issue thus references to union "busting" while the union's professional campaign staff are referred to as organizers and presumably spout nothing but objective truth. But why shouldn't employees hear the alleged negatives of unionization as well as the alleged positives? What's wrong with an employee at Toyota finding out that the Big 3 pay laid off employees $100K a year to sit in a job bank and do nothing and that the effect to the bottom line ain't good? Or that unions will often push for inefficiencies that make production in a particular location cost prohibitive? Or that Unions go on strike? I'd say nothing is wrong with any of that whereas you prefer an ill informed electorate malleable to your preferred outcome.

* the ruling party was free to campaign at any time, anywhere, but the opposition party could only do so after working time;

The basis for this is, of course, an employer's property rights which are then encumbered if the Union is voted in. And the "any time anywhere"
is a lie. For all practical purposes, employers are limited to onsite meetings while unions are restricted to offsite. Employers can't visit employees at home like Unions can (and the Unions are given contact information for every employee even the ones that want nothing to do with the Union). Employers can't campaign outside of or come anywhere close to Union meetings even if those meetings are held in public areas like a park.

* the ruling party could take individuals aside at work and on the company clock and "educate" them about the pitfalls of voting for the opposition party?

Right, there's plenty of unpleasant job related stuff that gets done "on the clock." The Union has ample access to explain the pitfalls of voting no off the clock.

Posted by: scouser on March 2, 2007 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, the secret ballot is a Western democracy thing. In most Slavic societies the village dumas (council) often had to make decisions that were extremely difficult, such as whether to pay an invader almost everything you had to go away, or whether to fight them against steep odds.

The village males would vote on this issue, but not a secret vote. You had to stand up and show yourself. If you were in the minority, you could argue on for a little while but at the end of the day the vote had to be unanimous. If the village went to war, it went totally to war.

Sometimes I think this is not a bad way for a society to govern itself, at least in those situations where you anticipate total war and no possible or viable compromise solutions. The U.S.A. went through this same process effectively in our revolution of 1776, when a great number of Loyalists were driven out to Canada in an inter-ethnic "cleansing." Another example might be the victory of former Confederate soldiers in winning the Battle of Reconstruction through establishing the KKK and other die-hard resistance movements that the North, in the end, would not have the will to take on until 1956 when Eisenhower sent troops to aid in integrating Little Rock schools.

Posted by: mike cook on March 2, 2007 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

Scouser: Unlike the fool Will Allen, you are at least trying to engage with the the issues, which is appreciated.

However, your initial point is incorrect, which tends to weaken a fair amount of what follows.

You write: "you purposely overlook the fact that unions are created by statute."

Unions existed for more than half a century before a national statute was established. It is not the NLRA, but the law of contract, which is foundational to unions. If the NLRA were to disappear tomorrow, unions would continue to exist. In fact, though this is not something I would advocate, there are a number of serious unionists who think this wouldn't be a bad idea.

Whether or not "certain compromises were made" in the NLRA's passage, or in the Taft-Hartley revisions, or in interpretation by the courts, we are still able to assess whether the law passes democratic muster - does it really allow a free and fair expression of workers' wishes to join a union?

I don't know what you mean by "a constitutional level of democracy," but the challenge I threw out was whether the NLRA "bears ANY similiarity to a minimally democratic political electoral process." For all the discussion of secret ballots, it is difficult, according to any standard of democratic process, to see how the NLRA could ever be confused with democracy!

The single most important reason is that union activists may be easily fired from their jobs, with effectively no recourse. To use the political electoral analogy, if you dispose of the opposition party's campaign activists democracy has been strangled, not only because you remove the union's advocates, but the demonstration effect on non-activists is obvious.

The best you can offer on this critical point is to say "But there is recourse." One great advantage of card check (and one of its biggest threats to employers) is that skilled organizers can sign up majorities before individual activists have to stick their necks out at work. Card check IS recourse for retaliation by undermining the effectiveness of employers' ability to retaliate.

If you are going to defend the current law, you need to come up with a better remedy for the employer's obvious and undemocratic power of retaliation than to say "there is recourse".

As for plant closure and other economic threats, employers are permitted pretty wide latitutde in "explaining" the potential economic implications, as they see them, of going union. Workers get the message. Coupled with the relatively untramelled ability to fire pro-union employees, these opportunities give the employer awesome advantages. Moreover, these threats are usually made verbally, making it difficult to have a charge stick in a subsequent unfair labor practice action, and of course, by then, it is too late.

Finally, I overreached saying that one side had the power to carry its message anywhere, anytime. On the other hand, the ability to hold captive worker meetings at work - as opposed to off the clock where workers are dispersed to thousands of individual locations - makes the employers task, shall we say, rather easier.

If you want to encourage the development of unions, it wouldn't be difficult to think of a better legal framework in which to do so. If you'd want to restrict their growth entirely, this is the law for you. Not for nothing that employers are screaming this is the best possible law - perfectly balanced!

Posted by: Friend of Labor on March 2, 2007 at 4:45 AM | PERMALINK

Irony alert: Will Allen commenting on fundamental dishonesty.

Posted by: Gregory on March 2, 2007 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

Tell me, friend, when one is willing to support lying in pursuit of one's goals, how does that constitute engaging with the issue? How is one to engage with an issue with you, when you lack the honesty to stipulate to the commonly accepted meaning of words? How does anyone have an honest conversation with you, given you believe it is foolish to refrain from lying?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 2, 2007 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

You should be ashamed for advocating the elimination of the secret ballot process, especially using data from the source cited. If coercion is a problem, then deal with that directly rather than this ham-handed attempt to open employees to further harassment by unsealing their ballots. If the election process is too lengthy, then work to shorten it. If organizers are being harassed and fired, then increase the penalties for such behavior.

The most telling fact, which has been largely ignored, is that the same process is not being promoted for union decertification. Why not?

Posted by: Yancey Ward on March 2, 2007 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

IN ORDER TO GET AN ELECTION WITH A SECRET BALLOT CURRENTLY EMPLOYEES HAVE TO SIGN UNION CARDS!

The whole issue about "secret ballots" is a red herring.

Posted by: Bob Smith on March 2, 2007 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

mhr, I'll believe employers have accepted that the secret ballot is "the American way" when they agree to choose their directors and determine policies through binding secret ballots among shareholders.

Until then, this is just so much propaganda.

In the meantime, lets look at what truly worries employers about EFCA.

The really nasty (from the employers point of view!) provision is EFCA takes away the employers' current ability - after a union wins an NLRB election - to stonewall a first contract, which generally results in workers' losing confidence in the union (with an employer-encouraged de-certification drive soon to follow!) or the union simply runs out of steam.

EFCA would require rapid first-contract mediation and arbitration if the parties are unable to reach agreement, with the arbitrators' decision binding for 2 years.

Second, EFCA would introduce new penalties and strengthen existing ones for unfair labor practices while employees are organizing the union or trying to bargain the first contract.

Above scouser said we should find recourse to overcome the employers' power to retaliate against organizers. Well, here it is:

It provides for civil fines of up to $20,000 per violation against employers found to have willfully or repeatedly violated employees rights during an organizing campaign or first contract drive.

It also provides triple back pay when an employee is discharged or discriminated against during an organizing campaign or first contract drive.

It also requires the NLRB to seek a federal injunction to stop these unfair labor practices as they are occurring (rather than years down the line).

Scouser, what say you? If you truly believe the employer shouldn't break the law and victimize employees for exercising their legal rights to form a union, you should support this bill.

Posted by: Friend of Labor on March 2, 2007 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Bob Smith,

No, it is not a red herring. The secret ballot allows employees to tell the union organizers one thing, while doing something else in the privacy of the voting booth. You cannot retaliate against, or ostracize someone if you don't know how he/she voted. Elimination of the secret ballot prevents this.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on March 2, 2007 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Why isn't the signed card the same as absentee ballots?

Republicans appear to be taking the position that absentee balloting is inherently more corruptible.

OK, good, let's get rid of it for national elections.

This is how the senate vote should be pitched.
(Heck if they’re really clever, they should also allow the union to set up the voting on touch-screen receipt-less voting machines which are controlled by the union, then we'll see how much people really trust that the machines are incorruptible)

Posted by: mike on March 2, 2007 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Friend of Labor,

One need not support this bill, even if one agrees with some of its provisions. I do not support elimination of the secret ballot, and I do not support mandatory arbitration of the first contract if the parties are deadlocked. I am willing to tolerate the increased penalties for illegal actions on the part of employers during the organization phase, but only because the actions are already illegal under the law, not because I necessarily agree that all of these actions should be illegal.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on March 2, 2007 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward: "willing to tolerate"

I would have suspected, advocate you are of the sanctity of the secret ballot, for a rather more principled statement.

Posted by: Friend of Labor on March 2, 2007 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Your analysis ( and Mr. Klein's ) is really suspect here.

1. 46% reported pressure by management - 14% reported pressure by union.

In a very simplistic analysis this sounds like less coercion by the union

However let's do more than a perfunctory analysis. For the secret ballot no one really knows what your vote is. Management can't really target their methods of "coercion". Therefore they try to persuade all that the shop will be better run as a non-union shop. Invariably some are going to consider their persuasion as coercion. ( Let's leave out the fact that there are some disgruntled workers who will always report bad things about management ).

The check card method - the union does not have to try and find out who has not voted already. Their coercion can be extremely targeted and nasty.

Management can not resort to thuggish practices. They would have to target too many workers, and it would be impossible to keep sectret. Union organizers can get away with heavy coercion on very few targets.

The "study" is less a study than a piece of propaganda. It just states as an axiom that management coercion has more "teeth" because of the ability to hire and fire. This of course assumes that the union behaves perfectlly ethically in its "persuasion". The large unions don't have a very good track record of this.

You seem to quote Ezra Klein and some of the statistics he uses to argue for liberal positions quite a lot. Quoting this biased propaganda piece as if it is something really worth looking at, makes your other research on issues like say national health care suspect. Thanks for reassuring me to keep to my conservative ways.

Posted by: John Hansen on March 2, 2007 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

I would have suspected, advocate you are of the sanctity of the secret ballot, for a rather more principled statement.

Given that Yancey Ward, self-professed ruggedly individualist loony libertarian, recently made a statement in support of the uber-authoritarian Dick Cheney and in opposition to his media watchdogs, you'd be foolish to expect principle.

Posted by: Gregory on March 2, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Liked your "voter intimidation" post from last month, better, Kevin. Although, I must admit, your blatant duplicity can sometimes be wearing....but I still get a chuckle whenever you change directions depending on the necessity.

D'ya think your regulars even notice how much that happens? Does it even bother you that your personal integrity takes a hit each time? Or does politics trump that, too?

Posted by: RW on March 2, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Ok Hansen, let's assume you're right. We'll assume that in order to get employees to join unions, union organizers stick guns down their throats and say, "Sign THIS FUCKING CARD or I'll blow your head off!"

So what? All that happens is the trade union becomes the bargaining agent for the employees. Which means that legally the employer has to negotiate in good faith to reach a collective agreement. There is no law stating they have to agree.

Unions don't start charging dues until after a first collective agreement. In order to go on strike, a secret ballot vote by a majority of the members is needed. The only thing an individual employee gives up by joining a trade union is the right to negotiate terms and conditions of employment by him or herself. And, if you want, you can have a collective agreement that says that indivduals can choose to negotiate terms and conditions for themselves.

Posted by: Bob Smith on March 2, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Let it be noted that Bob Smith considers it inconsequantial to have armed thugs coercing people. That pretty much says it all.

As to mandatory binding arbitration, on what basis does the state have the power to compel parties to enter into a contract?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 2, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Coercing people into what Will, answer that please

Posted by: Bob Smith on March 2, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Bob, it doesn't matter what, because (read, very, very, very, very, slowly) it is unacceptable to have law-abiding citizens getting guns shoved in their face.

Gosh, no, it wouldn't be intimidating at all to be forced at gunpoint to sign a card. The knowledge that one would have to opportunity to cast a secret ballot later would remove all traces intimidation. Golly gee, why would anybody think otherwise?

Bob, drop a note to the Democrats and Republicans; I'm sure they will welcome your twist on a get-out-the-vote effort!

Posted by: Will Allen on March 2, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Ok Will, you obviously have the mental capacity of a deceased baboon, so I'll try and keep this short.

1. If a union organizer stuck a gun in someone's face and said sign this or I'll shoot, that union organizor would go to jail. Ya see, that is a crime.

2. If a employer said, sign a union card and you are fired, that is a breach of Labour law and nothing happens to the employer.

3. My point being in using this example was simple, that the argument that a secret ballot was needed in order to avoid people being coerced into signing union cards appears to be premised on the theory that there is something to be coerced into, i.e. an indivdual gives up something when represented by a trade union.

I stated, and repeat here, that you are not giving anything up. If you accept the argument that coercion by trade unions in getting people to sign cards is a problem with a card check system, please explain what the individual is being coerced into. There is no more reason to have a secret ballot to join a trade union than there need be a secret ballot to decide where to go for dinner.


Posted by: Bob Smith on March 2, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Everett:

The coercion takes place in the run-up to the election. Firing of empolyee-organizers and those with strong pro-union views, forced at-work anti-union meetings, etc. taint the election process. Without fair elections, a secret ballot is rather meaningless.

Will Allen:

Pay raises and other inducemnts are bribes because their purpose is to get one to take an action one otherewise might not have, and are illicit. Many of these actions in the context of an NLRB election are in viltation of the NLRA, and thus are illicit, and therfore bribes. They are coercive because the message is that such benefits will cease if the union wins the election.

John Hansen:

First, it is not true that management would have to target too many workers for coercive behavior to work. Selective coercion to silence relatively few pro-union voice can make it much easier to promote their anti-union message.

Second, your assert that large unions dont't have a very good track record of "perfectly" ethical persuasion. Well, given that "perfectly" ethical behavior is impossible to achieve, just how bad is ther track record? And, how bad is it in relationship to management behavior?

It seems to me that cercion is not very likely in the card check process because it is not ultimately effective for the union. For a union to be effective, it needs the support of the members beyond the inital act of winning representation. Coerced members are not going to be supportive members.

Posted by: bob on March 2, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Dump the secret ballot, it's not as though it's a fundamental tenet of democracy or anything.

Posted by: Brian on March 2, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Will,
They don't know what's good for them, so if it's forced on them, no big deal. Hope they like the matching drapes with the Iron Curtain thought.

For a union to be effective, it needs the support of the members beyond the inital act of winning representation. Coerced members are not going to be supportive members.

Yeah, we all know that the unions have never cracked heads in the past with those who disagree.

Posted by: RW on March 2, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

RW:

The question is not whether some union members have ever "cracked heads" in the past, but whether such behavior is pervasive in the context of organizing. So far, no one has demonstrated that it is.

Unions are by their nature democratic organizations, based on on member one vote. Corporations are based on one share one vote, and internally are autocratic organizations. Absent a union or individual employment contract, employment is "at will" giving the corporation tremendous power over employees, who have few legal protections in the US.

Posted by: bob on March 2, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you, bob, or helping destroy the English language. You say offering something of value to someone is "coercion" because someday the thing of value may no longer be offered, depending on future events. By this feat of reasoning, Tiger Woods is coerced to play in the golf tournaments because gets a million bucks if he wins, and a lot less if he doesn't.

I didn't realise, at the beginning of the thread, that paying people to not join a union was against the law, as silly as such a law is, so I'll concede the technical accuracy of the word "bribe". The use of "coercion" however, is simply dishonest.

Bob Smith, you seem to be operating under the delusion that every assualt by a union supporter has resulted in a jail sentence. You also seem to fail to grasp that being forced by violence into ANY behavior is damaging to the person being coerced, and that the coerced person has ALWAYS lost something. That you fail to grasp this is very likely indicative of you being a thug. That you cannot grasp that a person might be intimidated in future secret ballots by having his life threatened in the past is likely indicative that you are stupid.

Thuggish and stupid is a fine path to take in this world. How nice for you.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 2, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Uh Will, if I am coerced into signing a union card, and such coercion means future secret ballots are tainted, why should there be a secret ballot to certify the union?

Posted by: Bob Smith on March 2, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

For the same reason, Bob, that we have secret ballots for President, while prohibiting members of political parties from showing up on doorsteps on election day, guns in hand, to march people to the polling booths. If the Chairman of the Republican Party or Democratic Party were to reply, "Hey, what's the probem? The ballots were secret!",after their goons forced people at gunpoint to a polling booth, they would be looked upon as thuggish cretins. Sheesh. How do you feed yourself?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 2, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Union Thuggery

Back when I was a "Union Goon" my union had a contract with an automaker that provided for an "escape window" once a year, whereby a worker could go to his company's personnel office and request being taken off the automatic payroll deduction of union dues. Then the worker could notify the union local's membership secretary that the union no longer represented him. This meant that he could no longer call a Committeeman (shop steward) to negotiate for him in any job dispute with management. It did not, however, bar him from enjoying union-negotiated pay raises and fringe benefits, including seniority rights, pension plans, and health insurance. He thus became, in union parlance, a "free rider, enjoying the benefits but not paying the dues."

No worker in the history of our local ever rejected what the union had won for him, none preferring to Go It Alone as a free American freely selling his labor. Imagine that. We annually received from management the names of our members that were no longer paying union dues, that were in fact no longer members.

Our response to these few misguided individuals was for an ad hoc membership committee to call on them and patiently explain the hypocrisy of enjoying union-won benefits if they were no longer union members. We did NOT stick guns in their faces and threaten their lives, no matter how much the trolls on this thread wish that we had. Give us credit for more subtlety than that.

Instead we threatened to break their fucking legs.

Am I the only one on this thread who knows what the fuck I'm talking about?

Posted by: buddy66 on March 2, 2007 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Will, try and get this through your head. There is no more need for a secret ballot to join a trade union then you need a secret ballot to join the Democratic or Republican party. That is my point. Even if you were coerced into joining those parties no one would argue that you then get a secret ballot as to whether or not you want to join. Cmon Will, you can string words into semi-coherent sentences, surely you can grasp this point.

Posted by: Bob Smith on March 2, 2007 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Bob, just how stupid are you? If the creation of a union changes the workplace in a way I would not prefer, and violence can be used against me to force me to support the creation of a union, then it is my interest to hide my desire to not have a union. Truly, can you possibly get any more idiotic?

To bring up your analogy, you cretin, if voicing the desire to have dinner at a burger joint, instead of a pizza parlor, will result in a beating, because some thugs, for whatever reason, prefer that you the pizza parlor be chosen, then it is in the interest of those who prefer the burger place, but don't like to be beaten, to have a secret ballot.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 2, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

So fine Will, answer the question. How does the union change the workplace?

Posted by: Bob Smith on March 2, 2007 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

That is, in ways you don't prefer?

Posted by: Bob Smith on March 2, 2007 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

Hi everyone,

I would like to thank Bob Smith for pointing out the fundamental dishonesty of the conservative/Republican opinion on this issue. The fact is that in order to have the secret ballot on union representation. The union needs to get 50% + 1 of the workers in that shop to sign a card. After achieving this and prior to the election, management receives a copy of that list. Thus management is able to fire the most vocal pro-union members, have one-on-one meetings with the workers (during work hours), slowdown the hours of these workers and various other methods to coerce workers to vote against the union.

The union, on the other hand, is able to do what to coerce workers. They can't fire them. They slow down the hours the workers receives. The union can't make the conditions in the shop any worse. So how can they coerce the workers. Scouser and Will Allen has stated that they use violence, but have failed to provide any evidence of modern unions using violence (Isn't it ironic that these people are whining about the evidence that Kevin used, but still will not any evidence to support their point).

Will Allen,

It is slander to knowingly state something that is untrue. You said that unions are using violence, but you provided no evidence of this. If you have evidence of this, then I must assume that you have slandered the labor movement. It's just that simple.

Posted by: Noah on March 2, 2007 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe I just don't like the people likely to become union leaders. Maybe I think the company will do better in the marketplace, and thus my job will be safer, without a union (whether that is true or not is irrelevant). Maybe I disagree with most of my co-workers as to what is worth bargaining hard for. Even if I were allowed to negotiate my individual terms of employment outside the cba, perhaps I think the cba will result in new work rules, thus changing the other workers' behavior, and those changes will reduce my job satisfaction. Maybe I think I'm so clearly superior in terms of productivity that I would benefit more by pushing for more production-based compensation, and my fellow co-workers are likely to oppose that, leaving less money for me.

The point is, it is my preference, and my preference is none of your damn business, and no, I don't want to reveal my preference if you might physically assault me as a result.

Really, now, John; you cannot be as big an idiot as you appear in this thread, can you?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 2, 2007 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

Tell me, Noah, you ol' intellectual giant, you, if I say Charles Manson is a murder conspirator, but provide no evidence of that in this thread, does that mean I've slandered Charles Manson?

I swear, Noah and Bob are having the Super Bowl of Stupidity in front of our very eyes.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 2, 2007 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Slandered the labor movement"....good gravy, THAT is funny; I think I'll laugh about that all weekend, and I say that as someone who has positive views about several different unions....HA!

Posted by: Will Allen on March 2, 2007 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

Will,

I'm glad that you have positive views about several unions. I, as a general union supporter, have negative views about certain unions, but that is neither here nor there in this discussion. We are discussing the ability of a union to coerce workers vs. the ability of a employer to coerce. I asked you to demonstrate 1) the methods used by a union to coerce workers and 2) whether those methods were more coercive than an employer's methods. You threw out that:

"As to the specifics of how unions coerce people, I've witnessed people physically assaulted for not adhering to a union's professed goals, but I make no representation as to how frequently such occurences, or threats of that nature, take place.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 1, 2007 at 10:44 PM"

I asked you to prove that (because no offense, but this is a blog and people lie all the time on blogs) or that statement would be a slander against the labor movement. First, you still have failed to prove that violence is a current organizing tool of the labor movement. Second, you try to make analogy that saying a union uses violence is the same as saying Charlie Manson is a murderer. The ridiculousness of the analogy is beyond the pail. Please go on Google and look for evidence or else continue to be a liar.

Posted by: Noah on March 2, 2007 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Well, here's just a few examples, Noah, that I grabbed off wikipedia in 15 seconds. If you want to say these are all Wikipedia slanders, well, you just go right ahead.

1999 - During protests by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1547 against a non-unionized workforce getting a contract, picketters threatened and assaulted workers, spat at them, sabotaged equipment, and shot guns near workers. The Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the union had engaged in "ongoing acts of intimidation, violence, destruction of property".
1999 - During protests by Laborers' International Union of America Local 310, picketters punched a worker, and threw coffee cups at workers.
1999 - Members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 120 were convicted of striking a worker, and imprisoning another one in a truck trailer.
1998 - Teamsters Orestes Espinosa, Angel Mielgo, Werner Haechler, Benigno Rojas, and Adrian Paez beat, kicked, and stabbed a UPS worker (Rod Carter) who refused to strike, after Carter received a threatening phone call from the home of Anthony Cannestro, Sr., president of Teamsters Local 769.
1998 - During the Communications Workers of America U.S. West strike a worker was threatened with a gun, and a manager was hit in the head with a rock.
1990 - on the first day of The New York Daily News strike, trucks were attacked with stones and sticks. One union member was immediately arrested for transporting Molotov cocktails. Strikers followed replacement laborers and threatened them with baseball bats. Strikers then started threatening newstands with arson, or stole all copies of the Daily News and burned them in front of the newsstands. Independent sources estimated over a thousand reports of threats. The newspaper recorded over two thousand legal violations. The Police Department, recorded more than 500 incidents. 50 strikers were arrested. Bombings of delivery trucks became common, with 11 strikers arrested on one day in October.


Personally, what I witnessed was a punch in the face when somebody was guilty of the grave offense of going to work. No, charges weren't filed, because the guy who got punched thought it would only make him a bigger target for violence.

Go ahead, Noah, call me a liar now. I'm sure it will make you feel better.


Posted by: Will Allen on March 2, 2007 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Will,

If you wanted to prove to me your authencity and the power of your argument, perhaps you should not have used the most unreliable source in the history of the world. I am glad that you are trying now. It makes it so much easier to argue against someone who tries to make an argument with evidence vs. someone who just throws charges out there.

Assuming the actions that you cited are true (a problem b/c they are from Wikipedia), then you have highlighted six incidents of violence from over seven years ago. For more information about how management coerces workers I suggest that you read this. This document includes a variety of case studies on union elections and the statistic that 1/4 of employers fire employees who try to form a union. I think one of the most dramatic aspects of this study was the description of a picket-line:

"Local and state police officials responded to the strike at Auvil with a show of force. Twenty-six police cars from three counties and the state highway patrol carrying heavily armed officers massed at the ranch entrance where workers were peacefully picketing. Officers with high-powered rifles flanked the workers in a military-style deployment. "Our picket was totally peaceful," said Vicente Nevare, "but they acted like we were criminals."

So don't just throw up some random incidents and feel victorious. You finally agreed to debate; Now prove your point.

Posted by: Noah on March 2, 2007 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK
The lack of a secret ballot enables either management or the union to harass those who vote against them.... ex-lax at 7:25 PM
No, a "secret" ballot enables management to harass and fire organizers and stiffle worker rights. Lying and sliming unions and workers are standard RepubliConTarian talking points.
... fundamentally dishonest to describe offering something of value to someone as coercion? Will Allen at 7:41 PM
It is fundamentally dishonest to deliberately distort the facts of current business policy in regard to union organizing. Wal-Mart is so rabid they have closed stores at a cost of millions in lost sales to squelch a union. The grocery stores in CA spend millions in lost sales and profits to destroy unions that guaranteed health care and a living wage for their workers. Now, it takes 20 months of employment to be eligible for heath benefits and the wage structure is a disgrace. In the meantime those company's stocks went up, their CEO were given millions in bonuses. In other instances corporate intimidation generally takes the form, Don't you like your job? Which means the thing of value offered is the job. Sounds like coercion to any one not a Republican nutcase, but, hey, that's just me.
...just how stupid are you? ...can you possibly get any more idiotic?...you cretin ...Will Allen at 6:43 PM |
The height of Allen's intellectual abilities. This represents his typically thuggish attempts at intimidation and silence contrary opinion. Hundreds of workers have been killed by government and business terrorism. Hundreds of thousands of workers suffered to make life better for the American worker. But every day in American, Republicans continue their warfare against labor and the right of working people to make a living and a better life for themselves as opposed to management and owners hoarding those fruits of labor.

...During the NLRB election, 46% of workers complained of management pressure. During card check elections, 14% complained of union pressure....

If you don't like a union shop and the benefits it gains for you, go somewhere else.

Posted by: Mike on March 2, 2007 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

Noah, I said I spent 15 seconds on it. Believe it or not, you aren't all that important to me. More specifically, you called me slanderous for what I said I saw with my eyes. Given you have no idea what I saw with my eyes, what does that make you? No, it is not required for me to prove what I saw with my eyes, but if you are going to say I slandered somebody, you need to at least have some basis for saying I am lying. Does everything need be explained to you such elementary fashion? Sheesh.

Now, if you want to categorize losing a job as harsh a coercive measure as getting stabbed, or having police officers flank your group as bad as bombing trucks, or contend that such incidents stopped in the year 2000, well, by golly, gee whiz, you just go right ahead.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 2, 2007 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, Mike, selective illiterate that he is, neglects to mention the invective tossed in my direction. How unsurprisingly stupid and dishonest of him. Of course, he is also lying when he implies that the study in question lumped threats of losing a job in with offering things of value, in terms of "coercive" action. Stop lying, Mike.

As to this typically moronic bit of irony...

"If you don't like a union shop and the benefits it gains for you, go somewhere else."

....one could just as equitably say if you don't like working at Wal-Mart, go somewhere else.

Sorry, Mike, the Super Bowl of Stupidity only allows for two contestants at a time, and they are already playing. You will just have to wait for another thread. Excellent effort, however.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 2, 2007 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

Will,

Obviously, this debate, if not me specifically, is important to you or else you wouldn't continue it on a Friday night.

Furthermore, if I said I saw Reagan on the grassy knoll(?) in Dallas on November 22, 1963, you would ask me for some proof or say I'm slandering an American hero. I'm just asking the same. Blogs are notoriously filled with inaccuracies and I want proof. You're saying you saw something does not prove your point or mean anything to me.

Moreover, you highlighted six instances of physical assaults and/or violence (found on a notoriously inaccurate source) vs. a study that I presented showing consistent efforts by management to prevent a fair and accurate vote for a union, which included physical assaults.

Finally, in what wierd universe, do you live where dozens of people with high-powered rifles surrounding a peaceful assembly is not an assault. Please read the link gave and then make a judgement. Or else provide evidence of union violence from reputable source.

Posted by: Noah on March 2, 2007 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, I dunno, Noah, I had a few dozen people around me with rifles at an airport oveseas not that long ago, and didn't feel assaulted in the least, and if you wish to think that asserting that a union member hit someone is as outlandish as saying that Reagan was on the grassy knoll when Kennedy was shot, well, go right ahead. Yeah, and everything in that piece I cited was a lie. Everything. Now, stick your fingers in your ears, close your eyes tight, and hum very loudly. See? Doesn't that feel good?

Posted by: Will Alen on March 2, 2007 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

Nice sleight of hand, Will. When asked to produce evidence of union coercion during an organizing campaign (and specifically in the context of an NLRB election effort) you produce evidence drawn largely from strike situations where unions had already established representation - the most notorious of these being the 1990 Daily News strike.

If I were less charitable, say, a Will Allen, I'd say you were deliberately lying in presenting this evidence, and that nothing you say forever after can be trusted. Though perhaps you are simply mistaken or in error.

Now, lets stipulate that the examples you cite of labor coercion are egregious and immoral, beyond the pale of civilized society.

Notwithstanding, what does your evidence have to do with the matter at hand? This is a question Bob Smith asked far up the thread, a question that remains unanswered. Do you have any evidence that union coercion is anything like that marshalled by employers, qualitatively or quantitatively?


If I were so inclined, say, like Will Allen, I'd say will was deliberately lying

Posted by: Friend of Labor on March 2, 2007 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Friend, people who stab other people are only inclined to do so after the union is organized, and not so when attempting to put one in place. Now go back and explain again how offering money to people is a form of coercion. Well, at least your not like ol'Bob above, and going to tell us how putting a gun in somebody's face is a trivial manner.

Posted by: Will Alen on March 3, 2007 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

Will,

If you and I were at a bar discussing football or some other issue like that I wouldn't question your authority. But I don't know you and we're not discussing someting minor. We are discussing a major policy issue that could greatly affect millions of people. You saying that you (a person I don't know; I can't even be sure that your real name is Will Allen) saw somebody get hit. I don't know if you were ever at a union rally or saw a picket line. I'm sorry it's not credible.

Then you proceed to cite Wikipedia (another unreliable source).

Well, I was in a union. I've worked with unions in the past. I've seen picket lines and unions forming. I've met workers who fired by their employers or threatened in a variety of different ways. But I'm offer that as evidence, because I can't prove that. What I can prove is a study that shows that 1/4 of all employees were fired or that provided case studies and conducted interviews. That's called evidence. Haven't you ever participated in a debate before?

Posted by: Noah on March 3, 2007 at 3:36 AM | PERMALINK

Excuse my poor typing:

But I don't know you and we're not discussing "someting" minor = something

"You" saying that you (a person I don't know; I can't even be sure that your real name is Will Allen) saw somebody get hit. = You're

But "I'm offer" that as evidence, because I can't prove that = I'm not offering

Posted by: Noah on March 3, 2007 at 3:41 AM | PERMALINK

Will writes:

Yes, Friend, people who stab other people are only inclined to do so after the union is organized, and not so when attempting to put one in place.

Posted by: Will Alen on March 3, 2007 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

That's correct - there's no logical reason to suppose that because workers engage in violence on picket lines they are inclined to do so during organizing campaigns, just as the police, with whom strikers often "interact" on the picket line in acts of violence do not inevitably use violence when interrogating prisoners, and remain capable of performing with heroism in other aspects of their jobs.

Thus you haven't answered the question: that you demonstrate that union coercion in organizing campaigns is anything like that marshalled by employers, qualitatively or quantitatively. Show us the empirical evidence of the coercive threat posed by unions such that secret ballots are necessary to protect workers?

Posted by: Friend of Labor on March 3, 2007 at 3:53 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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