, , ,

Ah yes, lazy media acting as a stenographer. So much work, so little time.

Yesterday’s Warrensburg Daily Star Journal published a lead editorial which perpetuates anti-labor myths:

4/1/2009 9:30:00 AM

Do not abandon secret ballot vote

Jack Miles


Unions and their friends in Congress are wrong to want to change the law so that union voting must be done publicly rather than by secret ballot…

…But, no, secret ballots are not the way to do so.

Democrats should abandon the idea of forced, public voting on union issues. The idea is unfair and repugnant to freedom-loving Americans.

Do you think the paper is hyperventilating some?

From the AFL-CIO:

The Employee Free Choice Act would allow workers, not corporations, to choose whether and how they want to form a union. It would give workers a fair chance to form unions to improve their lives by:

• Guaranteeing that if a majority of workers wants a union, they can have one, allowing them to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation;

• Providing mediation and arbitration for first contract disputes; and

• Establishing stronger penalties for violation of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first contract negotiations.

[emphasis in original]

Do you wonder where the “destroy the secret ballot” meme comes from?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

Union Recognition – Secret Ballot Elections and Card Check Coercion

Organized labor is trying to deprive workers of the ability to choose whether or not to be recognized by a union through secret ballot elections.  Workers’ rights to make this important decision in private and free from coercion need to be strengthened, not weakened.  Read more about the Chamber’s efforts….

What’s organized labor’s view?

IBEW in 2004:

…Many unions prefer card-check to the NLRB process because it is usually faster. Also, during a representative election ampaign, one in four employers fire at least one worker for union activity and half of all companies threaten to close plants if workers choose union representation…

Labor Notes:

Card Check: Can It Organize the Unorganized?

Created Oct 23 2008 – 7:12pm

Kim Moody

Employers do everything in their power to make sure workers don’t get a chance to vote for a union. They flout labor law, making a joke of the familiar National Labor Relations Board procedures where the government’s job is to oversee a “fair fight” election between the union and the boss.

As a result, unions have embraced neutrality agreements and card check procedures as an alternative road to growth. Since the mid-1990s their use has accelerated.

Several studies say the win rate for card check is about 70 percent, compared with 55 to 60 percent for recent NLRB elections….

From The Newspaper Guild (CWA) (2004):

…Unions have criticized the board in the past for moving too slowly and for a management-oriented tilt. Scholars attribute much of the problem and delays to the Taft-Hartley and Landrum-Griffin Acts, pushed by the GOP in the 1940s and 1950s, and to the negligible penalties faced by companies that ignore the law. But this statement was more pointed, alleging that the Bush-appointed NLRB majority has compiled “a long list of offenses against workers’ rights.” Among them:

• The board’s June 15 party-line decision to consider the legality of immediate challenges to card-check certification of unions.  Unions now use card-check to get around the slow NLRB processes and management delays-and around provisions that restrict union, but not management, access to workers.

But the board, for 42 years, has said that once it certifies the union as the workers’ representative, the union has a year-after all appeals are exhausted-to bargain for a contract before the union’s legitimacy can be challenged. After that year, dissenters can push for a decertification election.  The Bush GOP majority, at the request of the anti-worker National Right to Work Committee, asked for briefs on killing that one-year grace period, called a “recognition bar,” the AFL-CIO said.

“The Republican majority on the Bush NLRB seems intent on undermining voluntary recognition (card-check) agreements and the important rights they protect,” the executive council added…

It would appear that card check already happens, it’s just a matter of at who’s discretion. Is the current discretion “democratic”? Just asking.

The bill amends 29 U.S.C. § 159.

Here’s what’s in the bill as proposed:


1st Session

H. R. 1409

…To amend the National Labor Relations Act to establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and for other purposes…


     (a) In General- Section 9(c) of the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. 159(c)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

     `(6) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, whenever a petition shall have been filed by an employee or group of employees or any individual or labor organization acting in their behalf alleging that a majority of employees in a unit appropriate for the purposes of collective bargaining wish to be represented by an individual or labor organization for such purposes, the Board shall investigate the petition. If the Board finds that a majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for bargaining has signed valid authorizations designating the individual or labor organization specified in the petition as their bargaining representative and that no other individual or labor organization is currently certified or recognized as the exclusive representative of any of the employees in the unit, the Board shall not direct an election but shall certify the individual or labor organization as the representative described in subsection (a)…

“…The idea is unfair and repugnant to freedom-loving Americans…”

Here’s something that should be repugnant to freedom loving Americans: harassment and intimidation.

Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, United States House of Representatives

Hearing on “Strengthening America’s Middle Class Through the Employee Free Choice Act”

February 8, 2007

Statement by Teresa Joyce, Cingular worker and CWA union member

…At AT&T Wireless, we had absolutely no say on workplace conditions, including wages and benefits. Our raises were determined by favoritism and seldom a reflection of our work. Some years, we would receive as little as a two-cent increase. On top of this, workers had no real means for reporting unfair treatment by supervisors. When we approached upper management about unfair treatment and inadequate pay, our requests fell on def ears. Frust
rated with the companies’ neglect and indifference, my co-workers and I decided to come together to form a union with the Communication Workers of America (CWA) to bargain for fair raises, affordable health care benefits and respect at work.

Once word reached management that we were trying to organize, they did everything they could to stop us from exercising our right to form a union. Our supervisors constantly threatened that AT&T Wireless would leave our town and that we would lose our jobs. They also claimed that if we did succeed with our organizing efforts, our union dues would be so enormous we may actually need two jobs.

My co-workers and I would distribute union flyers in our break room and place posters on the walls with information about the union. Supervisors would immediately gather the information and dispose of it. Management wanted to deny other workers the opportunity to make an informed, educated decision on whether or not to join a union. They wanted to control the information workers received and instill fear through constant threats and lies about the union. At one point, one of the managers went so far as to park her car at the front entrance of a building where my co-workers and I were holding a union meeting. Deeper into our organizing campaign, management began to drive out our most outspoken union supporters for so-called “bad attitudes” and other flimsy charges.

Despite the company’s on-going intimidation tactics, we continued our organizing efforts. Having had past experience with unions and knowing what a difference they could make, I was especially active in the fight to unionize at AT&T Wireless.

Months into our organizing struggle, we heard that Cingular Wireless was going to purchase AT&T Wireless. At some point during the merger, several co-workers and I sat in on a conference call with Cingular Wireless executives to talk about what the merger would mean for former AT&T Wireless employees. When asked about our organizing efforts, Cingular CEO, Stan Sigmund, revealed he had a good relationship with CWA and assured us that each AT&T Wireless call center employee would be able to choose whether or not they wanted union representation, free of employer interference. I was overjoyed. It was a relief to know that we could finally speak openly about the union without the fear of employer retaliation.

Shortly afterwards, the harassment and intimidation stopped. We were free to distribute union literature to other workers during our break and were even allowed to set up a table in the break room with information on CWA. We made posters, put out flyers and made phone calls about the benefits of joining a union and having a say on wages and work conditions. In 2005, a majority of us voted for the union by signing authorization cards and on Sept 6th, 2005 we were officially recognized as CWA members. Management even helped us arrange a cookout at the call center to celebrate…

[emphasis added]

So card check is okay if the employer says so, but leaving the choice to the workers who want to organize is not?

Question: Isn’t it really “undemocratic” to keep the choice of how workers organize from workers and reserve it exclusively to employers? Just asking.

Oh, by the way, Ike Skelton (D) is a co-sponsor of the bill.

“…The idea is unfair and repugnant to freedom-loving Americans…”

From the Economic Policy Institute, Issue Brief #249, January 29, 2009 [pdf]:

What would it be like if a political campaign were conducted under the same rules as NLRB elections?

NLRB election campaigns more closely resemble sham elections in totalitarian countries than elections for public office in the United States or any other democracy.

Imagine an election where an incumbent president, governor, or mayor can:

• Force voters to attend his campaign rallies.

• Threaten to fire his opponent’s supporters or deny them raises.

• Prevent his opponent from campaigning in the daytime.

• And, if an opponent wins the election anyway, delay that person from taking office.

Even if this campaign concluded with a secret ballot, few if any Americans would say that this was a free election…

[emphasis in original]

(Hat tip to David Kendrick, Secretary – Business Manager, Greater Kansas City Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO)

As for the Warrensburg Daily Star Journal:

Meta: the Warrensburg Daily Star Journal and bloggers

3/18/2009 12:42:00 PM

Bloggers offer news, but scope too narrow

Jack Miles


…But bloggers, in general, are not journalists. Bloggers often offer one-sided opinions, not news…

Project much?