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Employee Free Choice Act Blog

Employee Free Choice, Union Corruption, and How to Create Positive Employee Relationships.

Updated: 2015-08-19T18:59:25.098-05:00


Just Published: Employee Free Choice Act White Paper on How To Win 5-Day Elections


We just published a new White Paper called: How to Win (and Prevent) a 5-Day Election: Strategies for Success in a Changed Labor Law Environment

You can read about it and download your own FREE copy of this 15-page report by clicking here.

Breaking News: EFCA Compromise Announced - 5 Day Elections and Organizer Access


This morning's New York Times is reporting that key US Senators have reached a compromise with labor unions that will have the 60 votes needed to pass. Read the details here. They anticipate a vote in September. Stay tuned - we will let you know as things develop.

Hayes Nominated - Emloyee Free Choice Act Next?


This week President Obama announced that Brian Hayes is his Republican nominee to fill the last remaining open seat on the National Labor Relations Board. Historically the Board appointments get voted on as a "package deal" to make sure the balance is always 3 members in the President's party and 2 from the other party, so Mr. Hayes is the last remaining piece in the puzzle to get a full, five-member panel for the first time in a couple of years.

Look for the Senate to take quick action to confirm the three appointments. More important, look for the Board under Wilma Liebman's leadership to start taking some bold moves to undo what she sees as years of improper decisions and inaction by her agency.

Finally, take a look at my recent post on why unions don't need 60 votes in the Senate when they've got 3 votes on the NLRB who can essentially pass EFCA on their own.

Employee Free Choice Act - Interesting Exchange at LRIONLINE.COM


Do employers really support the Employee Free Choice Act? That's a question I asked over at our other blog. One reader questioned my argument (using some analogy about men recommending birth control pills...) As opposed to trying to explain it all here, just take a look at the comments on my post about employers supporting the Employee Free Choice Act (look especially for my recent study that concludes there should be a gag order against Pittsburgh Penguins fans for their virulent anti-Red Wings campaigns).

AFL-CIO Trumpets New Study


The AFL-CIO's Seth Micheals has breaking news in his blog today. It trumpets a new study which concludes that workers "won't face coercion if they sign up for a union."

Memo to Seth: Coercion of employees when they sign up for a union isn't the problem. That sorta happens when they don't.

The study then goes on to compare the process of organizing public sector (government) workers in four states that allow card-check vs. the private sector process currently on trial by organized labor. Such a study is blatantly and inherently flawed as such a comparison is like comparing checkers to chess. The reasons for these differences are many, however I'll just offer one big one.

In the private sector, the costs of your employees being represented by a union are significant and threatening. Contrary to what union organizers are selling, they have little or nothing to do with employee pay and benefits. These costs include extensive litigation costs, loss of flexibility and productivity, the reduced value of your business or stock price (studies put that cost at -21%), as well as the loss of some customers who may prefer to do business with a union-free establishment. These costs are all borne by the employer, and as such can often have a fatal effect on an employer, and of course as a result, the employees.

In the public sector, these costs still exist, but they are simply passed on to those who pay the bills. That would be you, me, and all of the other taxpayers. Speaking from someone who resides in one of the states mentioned in the study, I can well attest to the tax burden already placed on these residents

If the AFL-CIO or anybody else can come up with a compromise measure that allows for these costs to be passed off on the taxpayer in the private sector as they are in the public sector, you just may have found yourself a strong ally in the Chamber of Commerce and you'll have yourself your bail-out bill

And if you happen to be a New Jersey Legislator happening upon this blog, please note that such a proposal is offered in JEST and is not meant to be taken seriously!

Roar of Miscreants


Just read a post by John Wojcik at People's Weekly World that highlights another of the key reasons that the current labor movement is repugnant to me. Most of the article is a standard diatribe from the Pro-Employee Free Choice Act crowd. However, John writes at the end of his post:

The labor movement, for the last three or more years, has marched, picketed, sat in, demonstrated, petitioned and engaged in major strikes from one end of the country to the other. It mobilized for the 2006 and 2008 elections on all levels, reshaped the face of Capitol Hill, changed the Congress, changed the Senate and was critical in the election of perhaps the most pro-labor administration in U.S. history.

Because of this militancy we are on the verge of seeing serious, major labor law reform in this country.

Consider the fact that "unionized" Americans account for about 12% of the population. Remember that many of those who work in unionized companies did NOT want to be in a union - but have no choice, especially in non-Right To Work states and government monopoly jobs. So, drill this down, and we could conservatively say that 1/3 of those employees did not want a union, and stand opposed to the political & policy aims of Big Labor. Then, account for the fact that a good percentage of those who are left are not activists, and their only "contribution" to the Big Labor agenda is their dues dollars.

Boil it all down, and we are seeing major sea change in labor law (and other issues such as health care & immigration) that are OPPOSED to what the majority of Americans want, but are being forced through because of the funneling of lots of money (union dues) in the hands of a few Labor Leaders (& those followers that they can rally), comprising probably less than 1% of the American population! The agenda of course, is to make it easier to collect more dues in order to sustain the political power, and lifestyle it then protects. The "life of the American worker" is so low on the radar of Big Labor leaders (despite the rhetoric) that it is sickening.

That is NOT the way a republic (or even a democracy for that matter) should work!

Caveat: I know that this is not the only reason the current administration controls the reins of power. However, this beast is growing, and if not stymied, it will continue to bloat and engage in activity ruinous to our economy.

Sorry - just had to rant today...

False Security Of EFCA Opponents


I'm deeply concerned. I cannot give Big Labor credit for the meanderings that have led to this juncture, but I believe opponents of the mis-named Employee Free Choice Act have stumbled into a trap. If we (all American businesses) are not careful, the jaws of the trap will soon clamp tight around our necks.It seems business interests have done a pretty good job of throwing a wrench in the works of the Big Labor lobby pushing for the EFCA. Many prominent Democrats have been pressured into backing away from the current version of act. The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, formed by more than 500 business and conservative organizations, coordinated the effort to fight the card check bill, spending at least $10 million. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on its own earmarked $20 million in 2008 & 2009 to defeat the bill, and spent $35 million in the last election cycle to help business-friendly lawmakers into power.The unions themselves even seem to be at each others throats over the issue, with the head of one union complaining that Andy Stern and the SEIU began to discuss compromise before other unions were consulted.One of the biggest shortfalls of the campaign, though, has been to allow the proponents to set the rhetoric for the debate. The unions have "won the high ground" by creating the impression that they are somehow at a disadvantage when it comes to organizing outcomes. They mis-used phony statistics and ignored actual data from the National Labor Relations Board to paint a picture to the American public that the debate was about equality of opportunity and a "setting right" of something that was broken. The opponents took the bait (yes - I DO give Big Labor and their consultants credit for setting this up - the liberal camp has been far superior to the conservative in using language to frame debate for quite some time!) and began to argue about the undemocratic nature of "card check" without ever refuting that there was a problem in the first place!The truth is that unions last year won about 2/3's of elections held, and most elections were held within about 38 days. Earlier claims that employees speaking on behalf of unions were fired in 25% of organizing campaigns are an outright lie. Problem? There is no problem for unions, other than the fact that Americans increasingly don't want them and thus don't vote for them!Back to the the trap. Businesses have been focused on defeating legislation, and it is a necessary and valient effort. However, in the end, they will lose this battle. The deck is simply stacked too far in the favor of Big Labor proponents. The administration is rife with union-friendly personnel at every level - from administrators and bureacrats right up to the elected representatives, including the president. All Big Labor has to do is come up with a "compromise" that seems not to effect the voting process (as it is suggested will be the case with mail-in ballots), that shortens the election cycle and retains some aspect of forced arbitration, and they will say, "no this doesn't level the playing field, but we'll make due with this." Democrats to were backed to the wall by business leaders in their states will then say, "Hey, American is about fair, and this is a fair compromise to level the field. We kept the secret ballot. Are you trying to be greedy?!"Trap snaps shut. Unions will now have more freedom, including possibly equal access to the workplace to campaign, and stiffer penalties enforced against employers but not unions. Rules are still stacked against business like they are now (unions can "offer" more benefits, businesses can't), and now they have both hands tied behind their backs.Again - I applaud the efforts of business to oppose the legislation. But, they had better brace for the storm. The ground will shift under them. They had better be about the business now of making themselves impervious to[...]

Employee Free Choice Act: When Should I Start Talking to my Employees?


This week we posted a blog item on an interesting study about the Employee Free Choice Act. In it a solid majority of employers (nearly 60%) say they think some form of EFCA will pass this year. This note is to them. The other 40% of company leaders in that survey are smoking crack ... a compromise bill is being negotiated as we speak and will become law this summer. I've been doing a series of strategy calls with companies around the country over the last month. These calls are a blast (if you're interested in doing a Free Choice Act strategy call for your company you can learn more here - until EFCA passes I'm doing them for free). The companies we've talked to range from large, multi-facility organizations who are already doing a lot of the right things to companies that are just learning that EFCA is coming. For the bigger companies we are able to really roll up our sleeves and work on advanced communications strategy. We work on a basic game plan for the smaller companies. But one question comes up in every call, no matter how big and sophisticated the employer: When should I start talking to my employees about EFCA?It's a great question. Most companies are reluctant to bring up EFCA for a variety of reasons. First, many say they think it might give disgruntled employees an idea they hadn't thought of yet (note: this is a terrible reason to avoid the subject - in fact, it is a better reason to be talking about it NOW). Some are afraid to bring it up because they don't want to violate election laws (this is an easy one to avoid - if you remember one simple rule that I talk about during the strategy calls).But the best reason I've heard is the "crying wolf" problem. Since EFCA is a moving target, there is a fear that talking about it now might make an employer look alarmist (especially if you get specific about things like card-check and mandatory arbitration that are unlikely to make it into this year's version of the legislation). This is especially true if you go back a few months later and talk about a different bill. One sophisticated employer I worked with a couple of weeks ago had this exact fear, and I think it's legitimate. However, I do not agree that silence about EFCA is the "cure" for this problem. Instead, I recommend a "middle way" approach.There is a tendency for employers (and consultants) to get caught up in the outrageous provisions of the proposed version of EFCA, like abandoning the secret ballot in virtually all cases and imposing "fast-track" contracts through mandatory arbitration. Focusing on the problems of EFCA diverts attention from what is really important: employees only choose to sign union cards when they believe (or are tricked into believing) that the union card will somehow improve their lives. The direct relationship between management and employees is what is blown up by unionization. This relationship is the key leverage point in any discussion about unions, no matter what version of EFCA eventually gets signed into law.Since it is the direct relationship that is at risk, that is what should be the focus of communications now. The good news is that this discussion really doesn't have to mention unions at all if an employer doesn't feel comfortable bringing up the subject. The key point to communicate is the importance of this direct relationship, the competitive advantages of companies who maintain a direct relationship and, most important, how employees can take advantage of this direct relationship in their daily work life. There are many ways to illustrate and emphasize the benefits of a direct relationship, and right now this should be your main focus.Some companies are more vulnerable to union organizing and are targets right now. For these companies it probably makes sense to talk about unions today, and perhaps to go into specifics about how EFCA proposes to change the way unions organ[...]

Do You Really Know?


This is a very interesting article, based on recent survey of American businesses. The study indicated that 85% of companies are concerned about the impact of the Employee Free Choice Act, and 89% believe EFCA will increase their vulnerability to unions. However, very few are actually doing anything to prepare, even though a full 60% believe that some form of EFCA will pass (I personally think the other 40% have their heads in the ground - see our last several posts for validity for my hypothesis).All would agree that the best defense against union encroachment is an environment in which employees feel that they are appreciated, where their feedback counts, where they feel connected to the growth of the company - what is termed a "positive employee environment." According to the survey, 70% of companies surveyed believe this exists among their employees, but only 35% have ACTUALLY ASKED their employees through proper surveys. We had a phone consultation last week with the HR manager of a fairly large company having over 20 locations spread across a single state. Even though her company is a "family-run" enterprise, she is fearful of her company's susceptibility to union organizing. Her industry is one which has historically not been a target of Big Labor, but has recently been drawn into the crosshairs. Thus, she feels her workforce is naive to the threat, and vulnerable due to the proximity of company locations to other high-profile organizing campaigns recently, and the fact that many spouses and other family and friends are involved in these campaigns.When we discussed what she knew of the employees current feelings about their work environment, she had concerns, yet had only anecdotal examples to verify those concerns or dispel them. When we asked if they had surveyed their employees recently, she responded that upper management "doesn't put much stock in surveys," and they hadn't done one for several years. This is a common response. If it is not understood how to properly use surveys, they can indeed be "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Here are a few tips to consider.1. A survey can uncover opportunities for improving the "positive employee climate" of the company.2. A survey can mark a point in time from which to springboard into ongoing discussion between management and employees. "Remember when we found out X, so we changed our way of doing Y to make this better...? This reinforces the value of a direct relationship between management and employees, and continues to provide pivot points for ongoing conversation.3. A survey can provide a valuable legal defense if an organizing campaign ever occurs. It is an Unfair Labor Practice to implement "new" changes to try to reinforce a positive employee environment once an organizing campaign begins, BUT if those changes can be linked to the ongoing efforts of the company to implement changes unearthed by a survey that occured prior to the campaign, it is a valid strategy and not considered a ULP.4. Lastly, segmentation of survey data is a key. It is important to remember that a certain percentage of your employee population will be loyal no matter what, and another percentage will find something to gripe about no matter what. However, the group that makes all the difference are the ones in the middle - the percentage than can be moved up the chain towards the management side. It is important to identify the issues that are important TO THEM - that is the place to plant the fulcrum from which to lever effective change.Companies that take the proactive step to implement a properly constructed survey process (including questions that reveal third-party intervention factors) will be miles ahead in preparing a proper defense against union encroachment, and their company will benefit from the fruit of the process in more ways th[...]

SEIU Imbedded


If you have any questions about how "pay to play" works at the federal level, this short video should answer them! Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, brags that

SEIU is on the field, it's in the whitehouse, it's in the administration...SEIU members and staff are now all throughout the White House.

Any questions?

(object) (embed)

300 NLRB Decisions Voided!


I hate to sound like Rush Limbaugh and say "I Told You So," but we did! The debate over the Employee Free Choice Act is only a small tip of the iceberg of the radical new environment American companies will face. There are so many additional ways that the Obama administration and Big Labor (working together, obviously) are changing the landscape.

Witness this week alone:

* An appeals court just nullified 300 NLRB decisions made last year

* Obama appointed two attorneys to the NLRB who have been in bed with Big Labor for decades, one of whom is on record via law review articles in favor of drastic changes to labor law in favor of unions.

* Obama gave the UAW (vs. the private investors) majority control of Chrysler, which will also present an interesting conflict of interest twist.

It ain't pretty folks! Big Labor is building up a huge head of steam - and they are planning to role right over American Enterprise. Pick up the fight now, or forever hold your peace!

Specter Turning Democrat


Arlen Specter is expected to announce that he is switching parties according to the Washington Post. Not exactly clear what this means for EFCA (he has already suggested numerous compromises that he supports, but has said he will vote against cloture and against the bill). It does give Democrats a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate once Franken is sworn in. Stay posted.

Newt Chimes In on EFCA


Newt Gingrich recently added his two cents to the Employee Free Choice Act debate, and highlighted the issue we've been warning of as the more insidious: mandatory arbitration. He has this to say:

In the history of this country, government has never proved its capacity or capability to exceed the performance and productivity of those engaged in private enterprise. Why, then, should we trust government to know enough about the nuances and market forces at play in a particular industry to set wages and benefits for workers?

Not to mention the fact that negotiations over these issues are detailed, and typically have never been completed within the EFCA-mandated time frame. On that point, we have had NO RESPONSE at all to our $10,000 reward offer for any government arbitrator who can show they have negotiated a first contract within 90 days, ever.

Blanche Lincoln - Opposed to EFCA, Willing to Compromise?


Blanche Lincoln announced yesterday that she will oppose EFCA in its current form - this announcement is a huge blow to unions if they were hoping to get card check this year. She did make clear that she could not support EFCA "in the form it is in now" clearly telegraphing that she might consider compromise legislation later. An AFL-CIO official quoted in the same article read her annoumcement exactly the same way.

This announcement is probably more critical than the Specter announcement a couple of weeks ago. Unions need every Democratic Senator going their way if they have any hope of the full enchilada, and I suspect that at least a couple of other Democrats will make similar announcements now that they have cover to do so.

What does this mean? Unions are going after targeted Congressional districts and key Senators during the upcoming recess and are cointinuing to press on EFCA. But at some point they have to decide what they are willing to accept. I think within the next month or so we'll see Franken seated from Minnesota and then some compromise proposal for quick elections, equal access, baseball arbitration and increased penalties. More important, I think there are at least 60 votes for that as we sit here today. Stay tuned...

Employee Free Choice Act: Reading Tea Leaves on EFCA – Or “It’s The Petitions, Stupid”


In the couple of weeks since Arlen Specter’s blockbuster announcement that he would vote against cloture and (maybe) vote against EFCA, quite a few pundits have claimed the so-called “Free Choice” Act is dead for the near future. I’ve already argued that news of EFCA’s death is greatly exaggerated, but I’d like to point out a couple of observable facts that I think are worth considering as we handicap the future of EFCA.It’s been interesting to observe how unions have responded to Specter’s announcement. Most interesting to me was that there wasn’t much of a response to the initial story at all. That could have been posturing, but to the extent they reacted at all unions mainly focused on the large amount of wiggle room Specter gave himself in his floor speech. Specter later had to clarify that he would never support a version of EFCA that included card-check because many union sources claimed that he would based on his speech and some of the interviews immediately afterward.Actions speak louder than words, and last week unions took the bold action of launching an ad campaign going up on the side of buildings around Washington D.C. (the one I saw was over the Sierra Club headquarters, but there are many others).These building-sized banners feature huge pictures of union members discussing why they support the “Free Choice” Act. These banners are intended to turn up the heat on Congressmen and Senators who might think that Specter’s announcement could let them off the hook on EFCA. Looking at union actions, for the moment at least, it appears that unions believe that EFCA is still a possibility and they remain very much engaged in lobbying for their Act.But there is another, even more interesting behavior to observe: NLRB petition activity is at an all-time low in the first quarter of 2009. Take a look at this:It may be a little hard to read the numbers, but these are the important ones: In the five years prior to 2009, on average there were 738 RC petitions filed in the first quarter (there were 964 total petitions filed on average during the same period). This year unions filed only 483 RC petitions in the first quarter – a massive 35% decline.What could explain this incredible drop in RC petition activity. A number of possibilities come to mind. First, this was a historical election year and it is certainly plausible that unions and their organizers were pre-occupied in January with inauguration-related activities. But one would expect for petitions to pick up in February and March if that were the case.Another explanation could be weather. This was a pretty tough winter, and that could have reduced petition activity (the first quarter is generally lighter in volume than other quarters). But this winter was not dramatically worse than similar first quarters over the last 5 years. Weather can’t possibly account for the 35% slide.The economy has seen its worse decline since World War II, so that could have some bearing on the situation. But typically the worse the economic situation the better it is for unions. If anything one would expect the rapid slide (including the decline in 401(k) plans and massive unemployment) would create historical opportunities for unions to organize. But that’s not happened.The most likely scenario – and the one I think is at play – is that union organizers are waiting for the law to change. We just spoke last week to an organizer recently laid off from a major union. He said that his union was sitting on cards while they wait for Congress to act. His union (which I won’t name to protect him – suffice it to say that it is one of the biggest there is) is that confident that the l[...]

From the "Stunning Admissions" Department


Much has been made regarding a recent Wall street Journal article in which a simple sentence was literally cut in half in an attempt to create a major "A-HAA" moment, with the Journal supposedly admitting that card-check did not eliminate the secret-ballot after all.

After watching the pro-union blogosphere seize this moment, I was hoping against hope that they would report on this stunning admission, taking directly from a union sponsored blog, which finally offered up the truth, albeit wrapped in a blanket of deceit. Instead of offering a few carefully selected words, here's the whole paragraph:

"Under the Employee Free Choice Act any union who receives majority support of those workers seeking to be represented by that particular union, will still have the right to file an election with the NLRB to conduct a secret ballot election if it so chooses. However I would agree this would be unlikely if a union does receive a majority support for a number of reasons."

It goes on to offer;
...why would any union take a chance conducting an election with the possibility of losing such an election..."
I won't hold my breath waiting to see this quote on Keith or Rachel's show.

Why George (and Unions) Can't Read


In case you missed it, this week unions made the comical move (led by Representative George Miller who put this idiotic claim up on his House Committee website) of taking a phrase out of a Wall Street Journal article out of context and then claiming (in exact opposition to the sentence they quoted out of context) that the Wall Street Journal said that EFCA didn't effectively eliminate the secret ballot election. Read the Wall Street Journal's response - it's pretty good.

Miller and the usual suspects (American Rights At Work, the SEIU, AFL-CIO, etc.) went after this sentence: "The bill doesn't remove the secret-ballot option from the National Labor Relations Act but in practice makes it a dead letter" and then left out the "but in practice makes it a dead letter" half of the sentence (kind of an important part of the sentence). I know that union leaders think they're a lot smarter than the rest of us (especially their own members), but give me a break.

Yet if Miller and the unions can't read a simple declarative sentence like the one from the WSJ editorial I guess it's no surprise that they can't read the text of the actual Resolution, which clearly states that EFCA eliminates the secret ballot election in any case where a union shows it has majority support - which today, and certainly after EFCA, is virtually (if not exactly) 100% of the cases.

Specter Opposes EFCA - Why Now Would be a Bad Time to Relax


Arlen Specter announced today that he would vote against cloture and - sort of goes without saying - is opposed to the Employee Free Choice Act. Even though I am home fighting the flu I can still hear the cheers from here. You can watch his speech here.

Specter says it is the most heavily lobbied issue he can recall in his Senate career. He also mentions his law review article (we've written about that before here - now would be a very good time to read it if you haven't already, and if you have read it before now would be a good time to read it again).

Specter states in his speech that he supports the idea of arbitration of contracts with "baseball arbitration" - i.e. limiting the arbitrator to awarding either one or another final offer. Specter refers to his law review article a couple of times and suggests that instead of EFCA he supports other amendments to the NLRA. So hold onto your hats - this thing is far from over.

Specter The Tipping Point on EFCA?


Another confirmation of Specter's willingness to move along with the Dems on the Employee Free Choice Act. Even though several Democrat Senators have been making noise like they may shy away from the card check bill, when it comes down to fish or cut bait, politics will rule, the Dems will most likely toe the line, and Specter should be enough to send it over the edge.

Come on 2010!

(meanwhile - brace yourselves...)

Another SEIU Tweet - CNA-NNOC and SEIU Announce National Agreement to Organize Health Care Workers


A huge story in healthcare (once again tipped by Twitter). SEIU and CNA-NNOC (or whatever they're called today) have announced an organizing partnership. Here's the Tweet:

(image) SEIU_AndySternSEIU and CNA-NNOC nurse union make agreement to organize health care workers nationally. Solid organizing partnership and great opportunity

If you haven't been following this story, these two unions have been in a fight - no, a REAL fight complete with riots - for the last couple of years. Both are great at organizing and the infighting between the two has probably been one of the best arguments against both unions since the battle began. Very important development for health Care employers.

Double the Social Security Mess?!


Unbelievable! At a time when any discussion about the government-run retirement system (Social Security) centers around the failure of the government to handle the money properly, the SEIU (Service Employees Union International) wants the government to take over the private pension system! What is it about history that liberals, and Big Labor, can't read? We already have an administration hanging huge milestones of excessive government overspending, never before matched in history, around the necks of our children and grandchildren.

The administration is now trying to tell American businesses how they can or can't pay their employees. Via the Employee Free Choice Act, they want to take over writing the labor agreements for every business in America, from large to small. And now we're being asked to give the government our pension monies?

American businesses have to be running scared. They are dead center in the sights of the most anti-business, anti-capitalism administration I have seen, outside of the confines of pure communism. The administration was partly brought to the table by Big Labor, and seems to be doing everything it can to allow Big Labor to rule the playground of American enterprise. The Big Labor - Socialist Administration is a match made in ...

Are You On Twitter? One More Reason You Should Be


Social networking sites are being used more and more for organizing activity. If you aren't at least following what is going on on these web 2.0 spaces (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.) you are missing a lot. One person you might want to follow? Andy Stern, who had this little "tweet" this morning...

(image) SEIU AndyStern In Atlantic City to form new Gaming Council to organize casino dealers and security officers and help UAW get contracts for 5000 workers

By the way, while you are thinking about people to follow on Twitter you might as well follow us on Twitter too.

Employee Free Choice Act - Looking Ahead to 2010


This week the EFCA discussion is focusing primarily on whether there is enough support to pass it uncompromised in the 111th Congress. There are fewer co-sponsors this time and some of the key Democratic votes are a little squishy at this (admittedly very early) point in the game.

There are two schools of thought about how this might play out. One is that a compromise version will get voted on soon (one was quietly introduced in the House this week). The other scenario, and the one that I think is more likely, is that unions will want to count noses (and perhaps even force a filibuster) on the full monty before allowing any compromise at all.

The idea behind the latter strategy is this: Unions have spent a hell of a lot of money to buy this piece of legislation and they are looking for a return on that investment. They are also tired of getting left at the altar by their "friends" in Congress. So force a vote on cloture first - putting maximum pressure on moderates on both sides of the aisle - with a clear message that a vote against cloture is a vote for a major primary opponent in your next election. If Republicans filibuster it, so much the better (makes them look obstructionist, not to mention it's kind of tough to say you are protecting the right to vote by preventing a vote on a bill...). Then, if EFCA doesn't have the 60 votes it needs, they get some compromise version of it passed now and then roll up their sleeves for 2010 (if you are wondering which states will see a huge uptick in organizing after it passes just read on...).

What about 2010? Here are the vitals:

36 seats will be up for election, 19 Republican and 17 Democrat. The consensus tossups races are all Republican:

Mel Martinez (FL)

Jim Bunning (KY)

Kit Bond (MO)

Judd Gregg (NH)

George Voinovich (OH)

Specter (PA) is a key vote for unions on EFCA and he is probably in trouble no matter what he does. Specter - who will be 80 in 2010 - will be seeking his sixth term. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 and again in 2008 and barely beat Pat Toomey in the 2004 primary (Toomey is probably going to run again in 2010).

So these states will be where all the action is in 2010 (and probably hotbeds for organizing activity in the meantime - you know, growing the grass roots...). We'll obviously be keeping you posted. We'll be posting a status report on the bills in the sidebar of the blog.

Bold Union Strategy


This article out of Washington State points to two strategies working against American businesses and workers. Interestingly, the focus of this article is actually on the less alarming of the two.

Apparently, a veteran official of the Washington State Labor Council wrote a memo outlining possible strategies to pursue this week in hopes of getting a vote on a new piece of union-friendly legislation. The email was sent to a number of labor leaders, and copied to four lawmakers. One of the strategies equated to a threat to withhold future campaign funding for members of the congress that went against Big Labors wishes. It is possibly a violation of regulations that state that
lobbyists cannot exercise "any undue influence, extortion or unlawful retaliation on any legislator by reason of the legislator's position with respect to or vote upon any pending or proposed legislation.”

All of the above is typical union tactics, just your average pay-to-play at work. The more sinister component that is almost overlooked by the article is the nature of the bill being proposed. The bill is called the “Worker Privacy Act,” (Senate Bill 5446, and House Bill 1528), and the bill

would prohibit an employer from requiring an employee to attend a meeting, or listen to, respond to, or participate in any communication relating to political, labor or religious matters. This would include talks about unions and charitable giving.

Whoa! Another blatant attempt to curtail free speech rights, couched in the politically correct jargon of “Worker Privacy.” And, another sly move by Big Labor to tighten the noose on American businesses, taking the fight to the state level in case the Employee Free Choice Act flounders on the national stage, or is compromised to lose some of it’s teeth.

The major ingredient to management winning a union election (beyond positive employee relations practices) is the ability to communicate the benefits of a direct relationship between an employee and his employer, and to provide truthful information about union operations and the collective bargaining process (as opposed to the union organizer’s promises). Although meetings are not the only way to communicate, it is perhaps the strongest tool in the tool box, because management can control the timing, gauge the feedback, and insure all employees participate. There is no way to force an employee to read a flyer or a web site.

I expect to see similar legislation popping up in state congresses all over the country. American businesses better be prepared to take the fight to the state level. Secondly, they should take a proactive stance in how they communicate to their employees about union-related issues. It is no longer a valid strategy to ignore union issues until organizing activity is detected. I heartily recommend starting now to create other communication vehicles that employees want to access, such as company newsletters, white papers or booklets, or employee-centric web sites. If you need help developing the content, or even the vehicle, feel free to contact us – we’ve been doing this for over 25 years.

Dose of Reality?


Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas seems to be connecting the dots in the brouhaha over the Employee Free Choice Act, along with a few others. Let's follow Senator Lincolns plausible stream of thought: the largest employer in Arkansas is...WalMart. Analysts at Citigroup in New York downgraded their WalMart recommendation to a hold instead of a buy because...passage of the EFCA could force increased labor costs and limit expansion. I want to be seen on the side of the Employee Free Choice Act because...I'm for loss of jobs for my constituency???

Although Lincoln was in favor of the EFCA in the 2007 debate, she is now hedging her bets.
“Right now, my number one priority is strengthening our state’s economy and putting 90,000 jobless Arkansans back to work,” Lincoln said in a statement.
Even if reason doesn't seem to prevail, if opponents of this horrible legislation can focus the energies of some of the larger business interests at other Democratic Senators, the bill may yet be defeated, at least in it's most egregious form.