Saturday, October 18, 2008

Employee Free Choice Act

There is an act that has successfully passed the House sitting on the democratic agenda waiting for the election Nov. 4. It is called the Employee Free Choice Act and on the surface sounds quite attractive. It has been developed by unions and their liberal supporters. What it refers to is a change to the current method used to determine whether or not employees desire union representation.

As of this writing unions wishing to try to organize a company will have representatives stand near company property, or meet with people they have contacted working for the company who may be sympathetic to the union message. A card is proffered and if signed represents the person interest in having an election for union representation. If 51 percent of the active employees request an election then there is a waiting period while the NLRB schedules an election. During this time the company may discuss the possibility of union representation with employees. They have the employees at work and can use work time for the discussion sessions. In addition companies hire firms to come in a survey all personnel to see if the main irritant of the employees can be discovered and remedied before an election takes place. The union is at somewhat of a disadvantage as they have to rely on public meetings or home visits to get their message out.

Unions claim the companies have an unfair advantage and will use any tactic they can including threats and purges to insure the defeat of the proposal. On the other hand the union makes all kinds of outrageous claims, we'll double your wages, you won't have to pay for health benefits, we'll double your vacation time, etc. Do abuses occur, sure. I've been through a unionization attempt at a plant that reported to me in Lexington, TN. The abusive situation that arose concerning the anti-union sentiment came from the community, not the company. I found out what the problem was and took care of it. The problem disappeared.

However, union representatives do misrepresent their claims, continuously. After all, would you listen to a person asking you to support a unionization attempt who said, I'm not sure I can increase your wages or improve your health benefits, but we'll have strength in numbers and I want 3 hours of your pay monthly for dues.

The new law would make the signing of the cards the vote. In other words, there wouldbe no waiting time to present sides or for a company response. If the union representative convinced you to sign the card with whatever sales pitch he/she made the card would represent a vote. If 51 percent of the vote was for, a union would be recognized by the NLRB.

This is a bad law. Perhaps there could be some negotiation. Perhaps the company and union representatives could state publicly to one and all their positions and then see if a vote should go forward. To deny the company time to rebut the proposal and to deny a secret ballot is not the way to go.

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