Irony in politics is nothing new, but this may take the prize: Mary Kay Henry, the president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), keynoted last week the “Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week,” an anti-workplace intimidation symposium in the nation’s capital.
Yes, this is the same SEIU that the State of California’s Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) recently charged with kicking in screen doors, shouting down union members, threatening assaults, lying about wages and benefits, and destroying personal property in relation to a union election in 2009. After three years of investigations, a judge will soon decide whether to invalidate the entire election based on the instances of intimidation.
Here on the east coast, the SEIU put their intimidation techniques to work at a Rhode Island nonprofit – where the union intimidated and mislead employees, as well as tracked them down at home to obtain signatures for union authorization cards. Employees, with little recourse to the bullying, threatened to call the police when harassed at work and became upset at being strong-armed at home by labor representatives.
The SEIU didn’t invent workplace intimidation, but its high command has written the manual on it. Literally.
The SEIU’s stop-at-nothing techniques encourage, according to its own contract campaign manual, workers to “disobey laws which are used to enforce injustice against working people.” With an entire section dedicated to “pressuring the employer,” the labor group outlines a number of intimidation tactics such as “jeopardizing relationships between the employer and lenders, investors, stockholders, customers, clients, patients, tenants, politicians, or others on whom the employer depends for funds.”
Now, after writing that book on bullying, the SEIU is attempting to backtrack – in view of the public, at least – and frame itself as the protector of employees.
But the manual reveals the SEIU’s real strategy in organizing focuses on damaging employers’ businesses and pushing them to the brink of bankruptcy. It’s all about getting the most concessions; the SEIU has little regard for employees or the health of the business.
Rather, they are interested in building their ranks and filling their coffers. For this, intimidation is the preferred tactic.
That’s why the SEIU and Big Labor support efforts to eliminate the secret ballot from union elections, instead preferring to coerce workers into signing away their rights.
The bill, called the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act (EFCA), gives employees neither freedom nor choice. Instead, it gives the SEIU and union organizers the right to intimidate and torment workers into providing signatures. And once the collective bargaining unit is formed, within weeks, unless an agreement is reached, the federal government will mandate contract terms on the worker and business alike.
Where American workers are concerned, these tactics and policies threaten their standard of living, workplace peace and, perhaps and most importantly, their jobs.
Instead of looking to put another tool in the pockets of unions through EFCA, Congress and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) should protect employees from the intimidation tactics that the SEIU prefers and exploits.
The fact is, if you take away those tactics, the SEIU has very little left. As they say in their campaign manual, “it is not enough to be right. You need might as well.”