Do you believe that in this life you get what you give? Do you believe in the individual power of your Constitutionally-defined-as-inalienable rights? Do you appreciate the opportunity to reap the rewards of your own efforts? Do you want to be able to choose where you work and choose among opportunities provided by your employer?
Or do you believe that you give only as much as you get? Do you feel that just because you were born the world owes you a living? Do you feel that those who are smarter or are willing to work harder have the responsibility to take care of you? Do you think that anyone who’s done well must automatically share, must give you everything you want? And give it without question?
If you are of the latter mindset, the administration is working very hard to prepare a place in a gulag called Hope & Change just for you. But if you are of the former, then it is important you understand just what is happening with the “Employee Free Choice Act”, aka “card check”.
There are some who would like you to think this is just some silly little fight between the unions and the government’s favorite whipping boy, Big Bad Business. But that’s because they stand to profit from your ignorance. The reality is that, unbelievably and shamefully, this is one very big fight for the freedoms upon which this country was founded.
What’s the “card check” all about? Well, in a nutshell, it boils down to this:
- A majority of employees sign “cards” in public that say they want union representation
- Government arbitration can be called in by either the union or the business owner to define the new union agreement after 90 days of negotiations (with binding arbitration after 120 days)
Let’s look at both of these more closely. Doesn’t sound like a big deal to just sign your name to a card in public, does it? In fact, in today’s business climate, I’d venture to guess that maybe some of you are picturing yourself as some kind of blinged-out Norma Rae, eh? But what if you think your employer is a fair one and treats you well and you don’t want to sign a card? Or what if you aren’t sure if you should sign a card and then find yourself being pulled aside at work and being called at home by coworkers asking you to go along with them and sign the card? What if you find flyers in your home mailbox telling you that you need to sign the card? What if you find flyers on your desk or in your locker at work telling you that you should sign the card? What if you get emails at work or to your personal email address telling you that you should sign the card? What if your spouse or children are asked about you signing the card? What if someone from the union pulls you aside at work every day to talk to you about your decision? What if someone from the union calls you at home every day to talk to you about your decision? What if someone from the union threatens you or your family or even your family’s pet(s) if you don’t sign the card? Even worse, what if those threats become reality?
This is the ace the unions are hiding up their sleeve. They understand that public humiliation – and personal threats or even criminal acts if they deem them necessary – go a lot farther than appealing to people’s reasoning and intellect. Particularly when their choice is not readily embraced. They are counting on you – yes, YOU – to be a nice little sheep and go quietly along with the herd if you work for any profitable company upon which they’ve set their sights. No matter how big or how small the company, no matter how equitably you, the employee, the worker, may think you are treated by your employer, the union organizers – like the government with all its bailouts – will insist they can take better care of you. But what they won’t tell you is that more union members means more dues – which are mandatory, by the way, even if you choose to not join a union in states that do not have “right to work” laws. And those dues pouring into the union coffers means more money for those who run the organizations (Jimmy Hoffa and his pals didn’t amass their personal fortunes by doing hands-on skilled trades work). What they don’t want you to see is that unions are really no better in terms of wasting your money than is the government.
Today, if 30% or more employees sign a card indicating they want union representation, the National Labor Relations Board is called in to verify and then conduct a secret ballot election. This allows people to vote their conscience, which is not always readily voiced in front of coworkers or their employer. Such privacy of choice is considered a long-standing, fundamental right, dating back to 1892 here yet originating in ancient Greece and Rome.
Arbitration is a whole ‘nother game and the part of the proposed legislation that contains the most real potential for damage to American businesses. When employees come to a majority decision to unionize, they must work out a contract with their employer. This spells out everything, including the types of jobs, how much each one pays, the hours each one works, the amount of time off to which each one is entitled, how and when overtime is scheduled and paid, etc. The union is going to hold out for the most pay for the least amount of time spent working, the business owner is going to want to spend as little as possible. There will be times when a business owner who is already treating their employees fairly is going to be told by the union that they aren’t giving their employees enough. And the business owner, who understands the community in which they and their employees live and the climate for the future of their business, is going to stand firm.
At the first possible opportunity, here is where our bailout buddies, the government, will be called to step in. And without any insight into the distinct and unique reasons a particular business does well in a particular environment, bureaucrats (being paid by your tax dollars, mind you) are going to settle things. More often than not, they will “split the difference” and it will end up costing the business owner a great deal of money. In some cases, so much money that they will have no choice but to close down.
And all those “wonderful” union jobs will go bye-bye.
Can’t say as how I would blame the business owner. Would you?
It’s difficult enough to make a profit these days, but it will be even more so when a business owner – seeing the Big Picture – no longer has the freedom to assign its employees to roles that they know are appropriate, both for the growth of the business and the individual growth of that employee. That’s because unions have this little thing called “seniority”, so it’s no longer a matter of the best person for the job getting the job. Instead the job goes to the person who’s next in line for a promotion. Even if they’re a bumbling idiot. This practice is extremely discouraging to morale and it is one of the biggest reasons that the smartest and most fair-minded individuals vote against unionization. “People see this as a huge power shift in labor-management relations,” said Steven Law, a chief of staff for the Department of Labor under President George W. Bush who runs the chamber’s Workforce Freedom Initiative, which expects to spend $20 million fighting EFCA this year. “This is a complete and radical rewriting of labor laws to effectively remove any employer control over the workplace and put it in the hands of the unions.”
And what about labor union corruption? Hmmmm…let me count the ways.
- How about Communication Workers of America union bosses posting nonunion AT&T employees’ social security numbers on a public bulletin board?
- How about a federal complaint that impeached Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich’s chief of staff, John Harris, had suggested to a service employees official that the union should help make Blagojevich the president of Change to Win, a federation of seven unions that broke away from the A.F.L.-C.I.O.?
- How about when the Democrats took a majority in Congress in 2007, the only office they wanted to cut back on was the one engaged in union oversight? An office, by the way, that helped get convictions for 775 corrupt union officials and court-ordered restitution to union members of over $70 million in dues.
- How about the director of the Laborers’ New England Region Organizing Fund awaiting trial on one count of labor conspiracy for allegedly accepting cash, liquor, rental cars and gift certificates from an undercover FBI agent posing as a contractor looking for business in Rhode Island? Two others were also indicted.
- How about the UAW losing $23 million in the past five years as it tries to manage a multibillion-dollar pension plan crisis because they continue to own and operate a $33 million lakeside retreat in Michigan, complete with a $6.4 million designer golf course? (The UAW, of course, being the union representing American auto workers at GM, Chrysler, and Ford and therefore, in the case of GM and Chrysler, the indirect recipients of bailout money – our hard-earned tax dollars – in the form of continued union dues from its members.)
I could spend days documenting problems like these, but the point should be clear. Unions no longer serve anyone except themselves. If you still have doubts, ponder these hypocrisies:
- On March 10, 2009, James P. Hoffa, the current president of the Teamsters, asked, “Since when is the secret ballot a basic tenet of democracy?” After having been elected by members of the Teamsters Union 3 times – by secret ballot. And just 3 days before the 20th anniversary of the settlement of the Justice Department’s racketeering lawsuit against the Teamsters, filed in response to what the judge in the case called a “sordid career of corruption and involvement with criminal elements and corrupt practices.” A settlement that included direct election of union officials – by secret ballot.
- The constitution of the Teamsters Union calls for its convention delegates, elections of officers (and candidates may not appear at the polls), committees, and even the president’s concerns about an issue, to all be voted on by secret ballot. Strikes and acceptance of offers by employers are also voted on by secret ballot.
- The constitution of the UAW (United Auto Workers) requires election of local officers by secret ballot, and uses it during trials of members for violations.
- The constitution of the Service Employees International Union uses secret ballots, too.
Now ask yourself the million-dollar question: if unions recognize the necessity and the validity of secret ballots, why do they want to deny it to you?
Like most things in life these days, it’s not about fairness for workers any more, it’s only about money. For them. Money they feel they are now owed by the government for having spent the union dues of their members to elect President Obama and many Congress critters. And power. A chance to garner more power than they have been given to date.
In other words, it’s payback time, folks. A quick search reveals that the Obama campaign received $8.1 million in contributions from union PACs through July 2008. The SEIU had given $13.53 million by October 2008 and spent some $3.16 million opposing Senator John McCain. Some of the backdoor tactics to solicit union donations to help fund the Democratic National Convention were reported by the LA Times in August 2008. And union endorsements of his candidacy did not come without strings. The unions expected something in return and they are reeling back in the fishing line and asking for it now. That something is your freedom to vote by secret ballot and the right of the free market to operate freely.
The unfortunate reality for the Congress critters and President Obama can be found in a recent Rasmussen survey which shows a majority of Americans, regardless political party affiliation, still believe voting in private (secret ballots) are the best way to determine unionization. And the unfortunate reality for labor is that only 9% of non-union workers are at all interested in joining a union, and a clearly large majority of union members believe secret ballots are fair. But the unions aren’t going down without a fight and are already starting their strong-arm tactics against Congress critters who do or may oppose their efforts.
Even President Obama’s beloved lapdog, the United Nations…or is it the other way around? Sorry, I digress…. Even the U.N. International Labor Office continues to advocate the secret ballot as being the best measure of workers’ wishes for union representation, stating “Secret and direct voting is certainly a democratic process and cannot be criticized as such.”
If ever there was a time to stand up and voice our wishes for freedom to those we have elected to represent us in government, it is now. It is imperative that this time “we the people” make ourselves heard loud and clear in defense of our freedom to vote in secret and our right of free association.
The alternative is to go quietly to the slaughter.