Tag Archives: The Manhattan Institute

Putting “Teeth” in Right-To-Work

Having been involved in the passage of Right-To-Work legislation in Indiana and Michigan, I can attest to the tireless efforts of these grassroots movements – by local businesses in Indiana and concerned United Auto Worker employees in Michigan – to achieve the goal of protecting worker freedoms. Statistical data shows that the implementation of a Right-To-Work law is positive, as such states see statistical growth in both population and jobs. Some have suggested that a Right-To-Work law’s importance is in the guarantee of the freedom of choice and the assurance of a lack of intimidation in the organizing process, but it appears this may not be accurate.

A recent article by Diana Furchtgott-Roth of The Manhattan Institute, suggests not.  Ms. Furchtgott-Roth points out that RTW states not only have the highest employment growth over the last 4-5 years, but they also have the highest growth rate for union membership! The statistics she presented were absolutely astonishing, but few people have picked up on the significance and logic behind the union growth in these states. The truly frightening  part is the number of cases recorded, since Card Check is virtually unregulated and therefore untraceable.

“Why Union Growth: According to data from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), in 38% of all union recognitions in 2009, the latest year for which data is available, unions bypassed secret ballot elections and instead used card checks to unionize employees. Specifically, the NLRB reports that unions won 794 single-union representation elections. During that period, the NLRB recorded 485 notices of card check union recognition.”

Unfortunately, Big Labor’s “Gasping Dinosaurs” are a resourceful lot. Their political contributions have bought them the support of President Obama and his Administration, who has, in turn, appointed a Rogue NLRB. The NLRB is currently lead by heavily pro-union favored board members, many of whom were unconstitutionally appointed by the President (see Appeals Court Nixed Obama’s Recess Appointments). The result of this support is that Big Labor bosses see RTW states as a shining new opportunity to rebuild its declining  membership. The Gasping Dinosaurs understand that with the support of the indebted President and pro-labor support from the NLRB, they can achieve membership without an election through Card Check by utilizing their insidious campaigns of “Death by a Thousand Cuts.”

Once they have infiltrated the masses, Big Labor can then use the same type tactics against the newly forced unionized employees to ensure that they don’t exercise their right not to pay dues (or in some cases, belong to the union) under RTW laws. This can be accomplished by making sure that the uneducated are not advised of these rights, or by the specific targeting of persons who choose not to pay dues.  This can be accomplished because, unions are legally allowed to broadcast a list of those individuals who choose not to pay dues (see Worker’s Allege Improper Collection of Union Dues).

This raises concern, as it is unclear how the “dues-paying” union membership will choose to use this list. Membership who view non-payers as “freeloaders,” may be inclined to use unlawful force, threats, and/or intimidation in an attempt to alter a non-member’s decision. Unfortunately, most members ultimately cave, as employees subject to such intimidation have few options.  While this type of activity is unlawful, the sole oversight of these actions belongs with the National Labor Relations Board, a partisan governmental “agency” whose devotion to labor unions is well-documented and unquestioned. The process is timely, difficult to understand, and expensive – as it generally includes the involvement of an attorney to represent ones interest. With little oversight, Big Labor can continue to grow its membership in RTW states through a combination of employee and employer intimidation, with no government regulation to hinder its actions.

Although RTW has been a Godsend for many states, employees and employers, RTW laws need more “teeth” in order to truly protect employees and employers from ruthless forced unionization tactics. The following changes would eliminate the “behind the scenes” intimidation and allow for fair representation in union elections. Additionally, these changes would impose collective bargaining restrictions that would allow members to make decisions free of coercion as to whether they wished to remain part of the bargaining unit.

  1. Reinstate Secret Ballot Elections: Uphold the long standing belief in allowing people to vote their conscience through a “Secret Ballot Election” by inserting language that  requires all union representation be achieved by secret ballot conducted under the auspices of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Currently Indiana State Senator Jim Banks has introduced such an Amendment to the Indiana state constitution and Virginia has already passed such a law (see New Employee Privacy and Union Voting Rights Laws in Virginia Go Into Effect July 2013).
  • Eliminate Check Off Clauses: Such clauses in collective bargaining agreements require unionized employers and government entities to deduct union dues from members paychecks and forward them to the union. These clauses are utilized by Big Labor through intimidation to force employees to remain part of the bargaining unit in RTW states. Unions should be required to be their own accountants and collect dues directly from the employees without third party involvement. In essence members would then have the ability to decide, just like in the free market, if the services/products they are receiving are worth paying for directly. This is no different than a person paying when satisfied for legal, real estate, investing, or other services/ products. It only makes sense, but is often a non-starter for Big Labor in contract negotiations (see Teachers Silenced by Teachers Union).
  • Eliminate Monopoly Representation and Outlaw Neutrality Agreements: In The Devil at Our Doorstep, I presented the following as the first two points in my “Ten-Point Plan to Battle Big Labor.”

a) Replace the current union monopoly representation with a secret ballot election every three years, so unions have to justify their actions to the employees. Unions must obtain written consent from every dues paying member before using money on anything other than collective bargaining activities.

b) Institute a new regulation that outlaws neutrality-type agreements, which allow card check in lieu of secret ballot elections.

  • Rewrite State Extortion and Blackmail Laws: James Sherk of The Heritage Foundation accurately proposed that we should modify state extortion and blackmail laws to include unions, which are currently not implicated under labor law. This would prohibit pressure campaigns which are designed to force an employer to surrender, rather than trying to persuade the employees to unionize.

Leveling the Playing Field through these changes and passing a National Right-To-Work Law are necessary steps to improve the economy and continue to create jobs absent the threat of Big Labor intimidation! It is imperative for this great country and the freedom of its citizens that new “teeth” are introduced to support and assure the success of the recently passed Right-To-Work laws.

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Leveling the Playing Field

Following my recent speech at The Heritage Foundation, I had the distinct honor and pleasure to meet with members from organizations dedicated to the true spirit of preservation and protection of American freedoms. In attendance were a prominent group of labor experts and other groups including The Heritage Foundation, The Manhattan Institute, The Labor Relations Institute and many others. We had an in-depth discussion about forced unionization, the effect it has on American employees and employers, and the role it plays in American economics and The Taking of American Freedoms.

The group engaged in a roundtable discussion where participants were provided an opportunity to ask questions about The Devil at Our Doorstep and my personal experiences with the SEIU. They wanted to better understand  how my company was able to rein in the intimidation tactics utilized by big labor during a Corporate Campaign, methods supported by recent NLRB decisions to force unionize employees though Card Check. As the discussion evolved, there were many suggestions on ways to eliminate the brutal campaign tactics. This included passage of a National Right-To-Work law (NRTW), embracing Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations lawsuits (RICO) and, at a state level, passage of laws intended to prohibit bullying and intimidation by labor bosses. James Sherk of The Heritage Foundation proposed that we should modify state extortion and blackmail laws to include unions, which are currently not implicated under labor law. This would prohibit pressure campaigns which are designed to force an employer to surrender, rather than trying to persuade the employees to unionize.

Although I am in favor of a National Right to Work Law and some of the additional legislation proposed by the participants, I noted some possible concerns. While NRTW is a potent tool to protect employees, it does not have the teeth to hold its own against the big labor bullies. NRTW merely eliminates the “security clause” in collective bargaining agreements, effectively allowing employees to opt out of the union if they so desire. NRTW does not, however, eliminate the “check off” clause that big labor utilizes to keep employees tethered to the union. This is a clause that big labor demands in its collective bargaining agreements because it forces the unionized entity to deduct union dues from the employees’ paychecks and submit them to the union, unless the employee openly declares he or she does not want to be a part of the union. This may sound simple, but due to behind the scene intimidation tactics used by big labor bosses at the workplace, very few employees will actually opt out and request non-union status. The big labor bosses don’t want to acknowledge that Collective Bargaining is a Privilege, Not a Right, fearing that members would vote with their pocket books and against the unions if these agreements were truly negotiated to benefit the members!

The “check off” clause is imperative to unions and is found in almost all collective bargaining agreements. With this clause, unions do not have to expend the time and money for accountants to bill and collect dues from the employee. More importantly, it is a guaranteed revenue steam that is not contingent on them providing a service to its membership. Unlike a typical business operating in a free market system that has to provide an acceptable product or service in order to be paid, big labor bosses do not have to worry about such inconveniences. Instead, they use intimidation to keep the membership in line and the money from dues flowing! If big labor actually had to collect its own dues, the members would react to its poor service as customers do when a business provides poor service, they would quit buying or in this case quit paying!

“To force a man to furnish contributions of money towards the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves is both sinful and tyrannical.” – Thomas Jefferson

This fact was made quite evident in two major instances, although neither was widely reported by the mainstream media. In the first year of Governor Mitch Daniels’ (R-IN) first term he eliminated the “check off” clause for public employees by Executive Order. Within the first year, approximately 90% of public employees quit paying union dues. They obviously were not pleased with the services provided. Not long thereafter, Governor Scott Walker (R-WI), achieved essentially the same result through legislation during the first years of his first term in office. Unions in Wisconsin immediately saw approximately a 30% drop in their membership when members voted with their pocketbooks and stopped sending monthly dues to the unions. Joe Brock, a former union organizer, succinctly summed up big labors’ pathetic record and inability to keep members without intimidation and coercion when he said, “If unions could do what they really say, instead of a 6.6% membership rate in the private sector, the union halls would look like Wal-Mart on Black Friday!”

Dianna Furchtgott-Roth of The Manhattan Institute, pointed out that RTW states not only have the highest employment growth over the last 4-5 years, but they also have the highest growth rate for union membership! The statistics she presented were absolutely astonishing, but few people likely picked up on the significance and reason behind the union growth in these states. Since employees aren’t required to join unions in RTW states, more companies are relocating to these RTW states. However, this actually provides unions new and fertile ground, as witnessed with the Boeing case in South Carolina. Despite the fact that a state or country is RTW, the law does nothing to prevent big labor Corporate Campaigns to force unionize employees and employers. In fact, as discussed by Russ Brown of The Labor Relations Institute, these campaigns are being exported all over the world as big labor becomes more and more desperate to reverse its dwindling membership!

It may come as a surprise to note that most union employees that are under the pressure and intimidation from big labor bosses will choose not to opt out of the union! The intimidation from union stewards and public employees paid to conduct union business on the job prevents employees from opting out of the union. As a part of any collective bargaining agreement, these people should not be allowed access to employees on the job! As Dianna described in her talking points, these public employees or Official Time Loafers contribute nothing to government except to further union goals and intimidate current employees to remain with the union, all at a cost to the taxpayers of approximately $156 Million each year. These are the jobs we should target to reduce government spending!

card-check-cartoon

The lesson to be learned is that when the free market is allowed to work and people are free from intimidation, they vote with their conscience. It is easy for big labor to intimidate and keep members when they have guaranteed means of collecting dues. However, when big labor is forced into a situation where they have to collect union dues on their own, it cannot accomplish the task! Even more important, this puts unions in a position where they must provide the service expected by the members and utilize dues for the employee’s benefit. If unions were to adopt this type of free market mentality, they would likely see their membership grow, without the use of intimidation and coercion. Unfortunately, they have no desire or understanding utilizing such an approach, hence the need to eliminate the “check off” clauses in any future RTW bills.

Obviously, this would be a highly contested issue as the President and the Democratic Party depend heavily on big labor for political contributions, political support and ground game. It is certain that the White House would block any attempt to pass a NRTW law, or any legislation that would eliminate the coveted “check off” clause. They know that big labor cannot compete without its bullying intimidation tactics, and in a true free market society, unions would become extinct. It is time to level the playing field for all Americans by passing a National Right to Work law that also prohibits dues “check off” clauses, because Right to Work Is A Basic American Freedom!

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