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Employee Free Choice Act? NO! February 23, 2009

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Financial Crisis, Uncategorized, US Politics.
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The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) has one element that totally smacks down its name: elimination of secret ballot union elections. It may strike you odd, or validate what you already know, that Democrats and union leaders support this abridgment of liberty.

As of today employees vote privately, as we all do in a primary or general election, after hearing  both the union and employer present their cases. The EFCA eliminates that annoying requirement and replaces it with a document that contain signatures of a simple majority of employees requesting union representation. An election can be requested but it will no longer be required in the name of allowing the employee to choose how the union representing the workers will be formed.

Both sides have salvos to fire. William Lurye, associate general counsel for the AFL-CIO, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution recently, “Employer-mandated elections have resulted in workers being illegally fired in a quarter of these election campaigns. Employees are routinely threatened and forced to vote against the union.” Conversely, R. Lee Creasman, partner for the labor law firm Elarbee Thompson, states, “The most compelling reason not to change the current law is that unions have won over 50 percent of the secret ballot elections conducted in the last decade.” He goes on to say that the new law could ultimately take the decision out of the hands f the employees and employer and place it in the hands of an arbitrator.

The ominous “be careful what you wish for” cloud seems to be appearing overhead.

“The best opportunity for working men and women to get ahead economically is by uniting with co-workers to bargain with their employers for better wages and beneifts,” Lurye concludes.

Creason believes it’s a “cleverly titled bill” that could prompt more employers to consider moving jobs off-shore. He concludes, “A more apt title for it is “The Job Elimination Act”.”

I would like to think that the truth is somewhere in the middle, but it is not. Newly-emboldened trad unionist are feeling particularly strong with Democrats in control in both the White House and Congress. Here is the closest to truth we’re likely to get:

“Under current U.S. labor law, the National Labor Relations Board will certify a union as the exclusive representative of bargaining unit employees by card check process or secret ballot election, which is held if more than 30% of employees in a bargaining unit sign statements asking for representation by a union. If enacted, EFCA would require the NLRB to certify a bargaining representative without directing an election if a majority of the bargaining unit employees signed cards, the card check process.

Pursuant to the bill, a union can demand that an employer begin bargaining within ten days of certification of the union as the exclusive bargaining representative for an appropriate unit of employees via the card check. In addition, if the union and employer cannot agree upon the terms of a first collective bargaining contract within ninety days, either party can request federal mediation, which could lead to binding arbitration if an agreement still cannot be reached after thirty days of mediation. Where government arbitration determines terms of the agreement, employees would lose their current right to ratify the terms of the agreement. Finally, the Act would provide for liquidated damages of three times back pay if employers were found to have unlawfully terminated pro-union employees.The EFCA also would impose a $20,000 penalty upon employers for each employer violation of the proposed legislation if the NLRB or a court deems the violation willful or repetitive.”

EFCA is a union organizers dream. Unfortunately, it’s an employer’s nighmare. One thing seems to be forgotten from the trade unionist perspective: the employer pays the wages and benefits.

Neither the current law nor the proposed law guarantee total fairness to employee or employer. Both have different slants on “fair”. In my opinion, if there is to be err, then it should be on the side of the employer, the one paying the wage and offering the benefit. Employee control is not to be sought or institutionalized. Have we not learned from the excesses of the UAW, Steelworkers and Teamsters? When the tail wages the dog, financially, industries go down the pipe. I’m sure the “Girls Gone Wild” producers could come up with “Unions Gone Wild” but the entertainment value would be sardonic, not hedonistic. Yes, employers are to blame for allowing unions to take the moral high ground and shame them into concessions they never should have made.

Today, as the auto industry teeters on the brink of terminal submersion, the UAW has trouble conceding anything. Forget the 30 years or so they have watched their market share sink and manufacturing plants close. That’s a compay problem, not a union problem, so they would like you to believe. And, yes, bottom line, it is the company’s problem. It’s the companys fault for allowing thugs to push them around instead of using common sense to snap their backs years ago.

This much is guaranteed: no employer, no union needed. I hope that is considered when the day comes that small businesses are hauled into arbitration and closed quickly after another union “success”.

Defeat EFCA!

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