Did You Know This About Big Labor?

Katie Gage
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Posted: Apr 05, 2011 9:18 AM

Yesterday, Big Labor bosses decided to use the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a means to promote collective bargaining.  And while much was said about the rights workers should have to come together and form a union, little to nothing was said about the rights workers should have to come together and dissolve that same collective bargaining unit.  There was also scant mention of Big Labor’s opposition to state right to work laws that give a worker the right not to be a member of a union, pay dues, and support its political and social agenda with which the worker may strongly disagree.  

The more one learns about the organizing process espoused by American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) President Richard Trumka the clearer it is that the end is more money and power for labor bosses, not greater rights for workers.  The reasoning is simple, you can’t fairly support the right of workers to organize without supporting the right of those same workers to oust the union.  Yet, that’s exactly the stance held by Trumka and Big Labor bosses.  

These actions by labor bosses are largely a function of necessity as the percentage of those in unions has dropped to historic lows with less than seven percent of workers in the private sector.  Today, public sector unions sustain Big Labor but even in the public sector organized labor has even seen its numbers fall.  Therefore, every step of the way, union bosses have demanded that government force workers into unions, and behind the scenes they have worked to make the decertification of the union more difficult.  

Big Labor uses hundreds of millions of dollars of workers’ union dues not for collective bargaining, but to buy a seat at the table and demand bailouts.  

For example, the now lifeless Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act required a card check process for union organizing meaning the workers’ vote would be subject to the scrutiny of third parties and they could be pressured, intimidated, even coerced into supporting the union.  But the law preserved the secret ballot election to decertify the union.  

Secondly, the actions of the so-called “independent” National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) demonstrate a decided prejudice in favor of unionization even advocating that small businesses must post a notice about workers’ right to have a union, but nothing about the workers’ right to decertify and remove the union.   

Thirdly, and possibly the most obvious example of the disparity between advocacy in favor of certification versus decertification are the actions of another so-called impartial and unbiased government agency namely the National Mediation Board (NMB).    

Under the Obama administration, nearly a century of precedent was upended when the NMB set aside majority rule resulting in a policy allowing a minority of workers to decide for the entire workforce whether a collective bargaining unit had been formed.  Just last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of reversing the NMB’s actions, a rare rebuke by Congress of a regulatory agency.  

And while the NMB’s actions concerning certification of a union gained attention, little was made about the virtual impossibility of decertifying a collective bargaining unit once created in the airline and railroad industries.  Under the Railway Labor Act – the law that regulates labor relations for railroads and airlines – workers must wait two years after a collective bargaining unit has been certified to begin an effort to decertify with what’s called a “straw man" election.  At least 35 percent of workers must support the effort to decertify the collective bargaining unit and even with that, a vote is not to remove the union, instead workers must support a “straw man” or fictitious organization challenging the union that is in place.  The reality is that a major union in the airline and railroad industries has never been decertified in modern times under these rules.  

So, as Americans watch or read news reports about Big Labor’s push in favor of collective bargaining on April 4th, they should ask themselves: if these same union bosses really cared about workers wouldn’t they also stand up for the equal right of workers to end union representation when they conclude it is no longer in their best interests.