Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Times Standard promoting union busting?

The Times Standard editorial page this opinion piece "Kill the unfair labor bill" that really does not do The Employee Free Choice Act justice.

As a union organizer I have experienced the tilted scale of justice in many organizing drives toward Corporations. A company will on average spend $10,000 per employee to outside consultants or "Union Busters." What will a company do? First thing is they will try to get the workers to not trust the "union salesman" or organizer. "That Richard Marks guy hand billing this place says he is just a worker like you, have you asked him how much he makes? What does he drive and how big of house does he lives in?" When you finally do get the workers trust, and start to have them sign authorization cards, the company will convince the workers that they are basically signing a contract with the union to start charging them dues, which is a lie. (You have to have at least 30% of the workers sign the cards so that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will hold an election. If you are an organizer, you better have over 70% of the workers signed or you will lose!) Once you have the cards collected and have turned them over to the NLRB, the company is forced to cooperate and has to give the union all the names and addresses of the employees. Oh, that lie the supervisor made about the authorization cards? That is forgotten, because there are more lies to look forward too! Now the company will put out a letter saying they did not want to jeopardize their employees privacy, but the union has every ones addresses and will be invading their private lives at home! "You don't have to talk with them!" The the company will try to talk to the workers one on one, to get information about who the inside organizers are. (In Plant Committee. Usually it takes 10% of the workforce to successfully pull off a organizing drive. They are the eyes and ears of the organizers.) Then the company will either have corporate Human Resource people or even the owner of the company come and talk to the workers in a big meeting. Smaller groups will have meetings weekly as the campaign trudges on for the 45 days from the filing of the authorization cards to the actual election. Companies will show horrific strike videos, threaten to move the facility elsewhere, allude to poor financial times and have their Human Resource person tell a personal horrible union story and cry. I am not making this up! Happened multiple times. Then there is the feel good Company picnics that has not happened before and won't after we are gone. Breakfast served at the plant by management. Cool anti-union shirts to wear (You better!) on the floor. The company will put out many (almost daily) fliers handed out personally with half truths and blatant lies about unions.

And how do we organizers fight back? We can make no promises to the workers. We can only give them the hope to have a chance at bargaining with their employer as a bargaining unit for fair compensation. We have to stand outside the facility on public property and handbill the workers who have the guts to stop and grab our material, or who will come to our meetings whether at the library, pizza parlor, motel or any other public gathering place we can come up with. And the dreaded house-calls that can either be a great experience or unfriendly fiasco. And organizers have to above board on all they say and do, or they will lose!

Recent surveys have shown that well over 50% of American workers would like to be union, but in fact only roughly 10% of American workers are union. I have been on organizing drives where workers were happy with their employers and did not feel the need to organize. Good for them. But for some workers, and companies for that matter, it is better for them to have a union. Asking for 50% gathering of authorization cards for union representation will level the playing field.

Union Organizers as Union salesmen? What do they have to sell? Only hope!


Anonymous said...

Don't like it? Move to Mexico.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was about ensuring the right to vote in privacy as opposed to having everyone including the union knowing which way you voted.

Orwell said...

There is no such thing as privacy anymore. We live in a police state. Big Brother is watching you.

samoasoftball said...

9:31am-I guess I don't look at this so much as a privacy issue because I have witnessed how hard a company will fight and intimidate workers to just sign a card for authorizing an election. If workers could get past the slanted election process and bargain with their companies fairly, this would even the playing field. Union workers make an average of 30% more in wages and benefits than non-union workers in the Manufacturing sector, and yet only around 8% of those workers are organized. Why? The system to organize is flawed. This will level the playing field.

12:05pm-I would love to argue that, but I can't.