Goodbye to worker privacy?

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Peer pressure. Fear. A mob mentality.

That's the climate that could descend on American workers if the Democratic Congress is able to eliminate the secret ballot in unionization votes.

The U.S. House Thursday voted to eliminate the secret ballot and to allow union organizers to get their way with a "card check" that is open - and open to abuse.

Ironically titled the "Employee Free Choice Act," the law would actually strip workers of the privacy they've enjoyed in secret ballots when deciding whether to unionize. If it passed, the secret ballot would be replaced by an intimidating sort of peer pressure.

It also would hamstring employers by regulating the benefits they could offer to induce employees not to unionize.

Excuse us, but wouldn't that actually limit employee choices?

Certainly even if it miraculously passed the Senate, President Bush would veto the measure. That does not reduce its offensiveness.

As columnist George Will noted on this page Thursday, union membership is in free-fall - especially in the private sector, where only about 7.4 percent of employees are in unions. For good reason: Unions hold back both workers' and companies' ability to flexibly respond to the changing marketplace and even get out ahead of it.

No doubt in the past, unions were instrumental in protecting workers from abusive shops. But federal and state labor laws have taken over much of the responsibility for that. Moreover, today's workers are much more mobile than before, and can simply move down the street to better conditions. And they do: As Will noted, today's workers will have an average of 10 employers by age 38.

Now that's what we call choice.

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patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 03/05/07 - 08:07 am
0
0
Unions have their place and

Unions have their place and can help the worker in specific cases today where the worker has no voice with the employer, but the giant unions don't help workers or employers. The huge influence the organized mega unions have with democrat congressional members should make that clear. Attempting to do away with the secret ballot won't get past the present senate and won't stand up in a court of law if it ever is passed. In the meantime, the threat to American workers should be obvious to all but the most stupid. Trading your safety for percieved security just isn't smart.

ohhsweetconcord
3
Points
ohhsweetconcord 03/05/07 - 09:29 am
0
0
I agree with most of the

I agree with most of the Chronicle's analysis of the situation, at least until I reached the second to last paragraph. "No doubt in the past, unions were instrumental in protecting workers from abusive shops." Oh really now? Unions have mostly always been a nuisance and have rarely helped the economy. They are monopolies which hold restricted the supply of labor within a given industry. How could that ever be a good thing? Also, your view that federal and state labor laws were instrumental in "protecting workers fromabusive shops" is false. It was capitalism that lead to better working conditions for laborers.

mgroothand
5
Points
mgroothand 03/05/07 - 09:35 am
0
0
There once was a time and

There once was a time and place for unions. As pointed out in your editorial, today is not that time or place anymore. Unions in a workplace foster the unhealthy us-against-them mode, them meaning management. Some years ago, as I was about to deliver an editorial, I picked up a lavalier microphone to attach to my necktie for a soundcheck. Immediately I was cited with a grievance from a union member that I was doing his job. It took almost a year to get rid of that grievance. I then vowed to get rid of that union. Nine months later, through a decertification procedure held by the NLRB, the union was gone.

mgroothand
5
Points
mgroothand 03/05/07 - 09:47 am
0
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ohsweet: Thank goodness for

ohsweet: Thank goodness for Right to work states. Most, if not all, southern states are Right to work states where union membership is optional. Guess where the automobile industry is moving to (other than Mexico)?

Curlie56
9
Points
Curlie56 03/05/07 - 09:56 am
0
0
I don't know about most

I don't know about most people, but for me I am union all the way. I have been union all of my working life as well as a union vice prez. I think of the beginning of unions which made sure the workers were paid for all hours worked on the clock. Where do you people think being paid time and a half for hours over 40 came from? Where do you think being paid for vacations and sick leave started? Where do you think merit raises started as well as cost of living raises? Oh how arrogant we get when we don't know the facts! The unions are not what they use to be, because they are pretty much 100% political now, whereas they were on the average about 40% political in the "heyday!" Most of the perks and quirks and good working basic conditions were first put in place by unions in the 50's and 60's. You started on your little jobs with these perks thinking that's just how it is! Maybe so, but before the unions, that was not how it was! LAbor departments use the laws now that unions forced in place back then. Before unions you worked 16 hours a day 7 days a week for straight hourly wages. Thank GOD for the time and a half law the unions forced into place!

Curlie56
9
Points
Curlie56 03/05/07 - 10:11 am
0
0
mgroothand, IF that was all

mgroothand, IF that was all it was to that grievance, I would not have allowed that grievance to go forward if it was that petty! I sense there was more to it or some personal problem incorporated into that incident. The problem there was not the union, but the local to that particular union. The people obviously had a problem with the local for it to be able to vote it out, as well as the NLRB helping you to get it out. That went deeper than just an incident of doing a soundcheck. I have been involved in the union masses since I was 19 years of age...I am 55 now. I have played the games with the fortune 500 companies as well as the fortune 100 companies, down to no fortune at all. There are some dirty locals out there that the NLRB have to step on occasionally, but for the most part employees are usually for unions in most companies. Augusta Richmond County is an entity that needs to be governed by union. That way, they can't spend money or violate policies in place the way that they do. BUT since Augustans are blind they only see the word UNION and start running under the influence of anti union people.

mgroothand
5
Points
mgroothand 03/05/07 - 11:29 am
0
0
Custombuilt53: When the

Custombuilt53: When the microphone incident happened I was brand new in the job and the local IBEW wanted to flex some muscle to show me who was boss. You know, the us-against-them syndrome. That backfired on them, I was the boss and after 26 years of union presence the union lost. Also, how would you account for the statistic that only about 7% of the private labor force is unionized when you say that employees for the most part are in favor of unions? Sure, that's all Augusta needs, to be governed by a union..... Incidentally, unions do not govern anything. A union presence is a nuisance merely tolerated by lazy management.

Curlie56
9
Points
Curlie56 03/05/07 - 02:01 pm
0
0
To each his own. I can tell

To each his own. I can tell you are young and was not around when things were not as peachy in the workplace as is now! When you walked into the job market, it was already laid out. Older workers like myself who weathered the storms for people like you to bad mouth the jobs done by the unions back then. In the day, you probably would not have been able to have the position you have, had it not been for unions suing companies for equal opportunities for men and women. You are reading statistics that the political arena wants you to believe, all that is written is not always true. What is your definition of lazy management? Believe me with some of the things I have had to help unions fight against management, it is anything BUT lazy. It takes a lot of energy to execute some of the wrongs being done by managements. It's people like you who make the unions less effective spreading poison and forgetting that the gold road was laid when you started to walk on it. You have not had to fight to earn anything. The fight was fought for you and others to come after you. The labor department is full of laws push into place by fighting unions in order to protect the likes of you and others.

mgroothand
5
Points
mgroothand 03/05/07 - 04:06 pm
0
0
My first encounter with a

My first encounter with a union was a chapter of the Teamsters union. After that incident they, the Teamsters, totally destroyed my yard and car in the middle of the night. That did not sit well with me. Lazy management is management that allows a union in their workplace and not doing something about it. I was once forced to fire a promising employee because she was morally opposed to any union and would not pay her union dues. You assume too much, I am 11 years older than you.

Curlie56
9
Points
Curlie56 03/05/07 - 06:35 pm
0
0
There are laws in place to

There are laws in place to combat that type of behavior once proven it was done by union members. I know this because I am a Teamster for life, and destruction and bodily harm to others have be prosecuted on many levels. Were you a union scab or something? Did you cross a pickett line? Why your yard and car? Most states have adopted the right to work laws. I don't know what local you had, but it was not a UNION RULE, to have to pay union dues, because my local, which is in Tampa had members as well as non union members, which meant you were not bound by the ties of a union. BUT we have had so many non union members to be mistreated by management and run to the local for help. In vain of course! There are so many unorthrodox locals which makes it bad for the unions of all types. If the NLRB does it's job by prosecuting more union local management, there wouldn't be a problem today, with so many jobs going to other countries, so many retirement benefits/stocks are stolen by management...ENRON. A good old union does not allow this! I know, because I retired from Honeywell in 1985 with a very nice package put in place by TEAMSTERS. I have a lifetime membership/benefits!

ohhsweetconcord
3
Points
ohhsweetconcord 03/05/07 - 11:54 pm
0
0
Custom: Your own personal

Custom: Your own personal experience and blanket statements don't actually prove anything. You just say, over and over and over, that Unions did this and that! They were responsible for this! What's your evidence, sir? Yes, unions may have been around when certain labor standards increased, but that doesn't mean that they were responsible for them. Unions operate because people want stability and assurance. Unions usually provide that, yet at the same time they decrease progress and development.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
Points
JohnRandolphHardisonCain 03/06/07 - 06:54 am
0
0
As usual this AC editorial

As usual this AC editorial deals in half-truths, superficiality, and is
misleading when it claims worker privacy is threatened by new
legislation. What do you expect from a pro-bidness, anti labor,
rightwing rag? The New York Times editorial on March 6, 2007 gets it
right: THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE - There are many reasons for the long
decline in the membership rolls for private sector unions, including
powerful changes in the economy and the unions' past corruption
scandals. And there is little doubt that federal rules and regulations
for union organizing have also become increasingly hostile to labor,
helping to drive unions' share of the work force down from a peak of 35
percent in the 1950s to a mere 7.4 percent today.
The House of Representatives passed a bill last week that would
strengthen the rights of employees to form unions, and it drew an
immediate veto threat from President Bush. But if Mr. Bush were, as he
claims, truly concerned about rising income inequality and truly
committed to improving the lives of America's middle class, he would
support the legislation and urge the Senate to approve it.
The most significant change in the bill is known as a majority signup,
which would allow employees at a company to unionize if a majority
signed cards expressing their desire to do so. Under current law, an
employer can reject the majority's signatures and insist on a secret
ballot. But in a disturbingly high number of cases, the employer uses
the time before the vote to pressure employees to rethink their
decision to unionize.
The bill would also increase the penalty for employers who fired or
otherwise discriminated illegally against pro-union employees. An
employer currently found guilty of an illegal firing must pay back pay,
minus whatever the fired employee might have earned at a new job - a
fine so low as to be meaningless. And the bill would require binding
arbitration if a newly formed union and company management were unable
to agree on a first contract after 120 days. The refusal to bargain is
among the most common allegations against employers in filings to the
National Labor Relations Board.
Some employers, like Cingular Wireless and the health care provider
Kaiser Permanente, have voluntarily embraced the practice of the
majority signup. But many others, represented by interest groups like
the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of
Manufacturers, remain rigidly opposed.
The bill's opponents charge that replacing secret ballots with the
majority signup would be undemocratic. But the current system is by no
means fair. The law prohibits union advocacy by employees during work
hours and allows employers to ban organizers from the work place. But
employers can require workers to attend anti-union presentations, and
can discipline or fire those who refuse to attend.
In 2005, according to the most recent annual report of the National
Labor Relations Board, 31,358 employees were receiving back pay after
being discriminated against for their union-related activities. In
research for a bipartisan Congressional commission in 2000, Kate
Bronfenbrenner, a labor relations professor at Cornell University,
reported that 25 percent of employers illegally fired at least one
employee during organizing campaigns.
Labor unions have a role to play in helping to fix today's economic
ills - most notably, worsening income inequality, a problem that's
caused in part by unions' decline and the workers' resulting lack of
bargaining power. What's needed is a Congressional drive to help Mr.
Bush see this obvious connection. The Senate should take up the House
bill promptly and send it to the president for his signature.

Curlie56
9
Points
Curlie56 03/06/07 - 05:36 pm
0
0
JohnRandolphHardisCain-----

JohnRandolphHardisCain----- You are not related to John Phillip Randolph are you? I know you know who that is!

Ohhsweetconcord, you sound to shallow to be human, so I want respond to your obvious ignorance to the real world.

John Randolph thanks for the article!!!!

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