Campaigns/Elections

Union Rules

The Democratic coalition rubs its hands at the prospect of taking over Washington.

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If you ever want a window into the needs and desires of the labor movement, you should listen to Stewart Acuff. And if you get within 50 yards of Acuff, you'll be listening: The snow-bearded activist, now the AFL-CIO's director of organizing, projects his voice like an opera singer. He grips the podium, white-knuckled. He clasps his hands, then pulls them apart with a snap. When I saw him at the Take Back America conference in Washington in March, his reedy voice grew rougher and louder as his speech went on.

"My brothers and sisters," he said, "if we go into 2008 with an even larger mobilization of workers behind this legislation, with even more commitment to win the election in 2008, and put this on the agenda in 2009, I'm here to tell you today that we will pass this legislation, in the House, overwhelmingly! We will pass it in the Senate! We will defeat a Republican filibuster! And we will have a president who signs the Employee Free Choice Act! And we can get back to the business of restoring the American dream for millions and millions of workers!"

What's the Employee Free Choice Act? If you aren't a lobbyist in Washington, a union worker, or an employer nervously trying to prevent your staff from organizing, you might not have followed the twisty history of the latest attempt to increase private-sector unionization. "Card check," as it is usually known, would allow employees at a company to bypass secret-ballot elections and declare their intent to unionize by simply signing cards. If adopted, it could portend the most revolutionary change to labor law since the 1940s.

The battle over card check is part of a much larger story of Campaign '08: the coming-out party of Democratic interest groups. For the first time since 1992, Democrats are eyeing complete control of the executive and legislative branches, with all of the spoils of appointment and legislative scheduling that would entail. Unions want to grow their numbers. Green industries want tax incentives. Trial lawyers want a ceasefire in the war on torts.

If these groups could actually form a line in January, the unions would be at the front. Card check was the brainchild of organizers who had watched their numbers tumble as manufacturing jobs moved out of the rust belt and successive conservative administrations made it tougher to organize. President Bill Clinton, signer of NAFTA, did little to stop the skid from labor's point of view. The organizers have learned their lessons, pushing members of the House and Senate—including the junior senators from New York and Illinois—to commit in writing to card check.

"When we started working on this legislation five years ago," Acuff said at Take Back America, "people in Washington said it would never be taken seriously, never pass the laugh test." Bills were introduced in 2003, 2005, and 2007. The first two times, they never reached the floor, with Republicans arguing that labor organizers usually win unionization elections anyway and that 90 percent of those results are approved by the federal government's National Labor Relations Board within two months. In 2007, with the Democrats in charge of the legislature, the same bill passed the House easily and won 51 votes in the Senate, but that wasn't enough to proceed to an up-or-down vote. All along, the effort has faced a veto threat from President Bush.

Things are different now. Democrats believe that as many as nine Republican-held Senate seats are vulnerable in 2008. The AFL-CIO, Change to Win, and allied unions plan to spend $360 million on the 2008 election. That's around $200 million more than the unions spent in the Kerry-Bush race. As Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton slug it out for the nomination, the AFL-CIO is running a $53 million campaign attacking John McCain—portraying him as a right-wing ideologue who co-sponsored the Secret Ballot Protection Act, the GOP's attempt at making kryptonite against card check.

All that union money comes with a promise: What's good for unions will be good for the Democrats. Greg Tarpinian, a Change to Win organizer who spoke at the Take Back America panel, pointed out that union membership was one of the strongest determinants for a voter choosing a Democratic ballot. "If union membership was 10 percent in Ohio in 2004," he argued, "John Kerry would be president."

If card check passes, Tarpinian has only one worry: the ability of the National Labor Relations Board to "keep up with the demand" for brand new unions. Those new brothers and sisters of the labor movement will start paying dues; said dues will find their way to new Democratic campaigns like salmon finding their way upstream.

Republicans and business lobbyists are watching all of this with a sense of resigned horror. They know Democrats will have the votes, and they believe that the end of secret ballot elections will be not just bad for business, but bad for democracy. They also see card check as the tip of a spear. One Republican staffer worried to me about collective bargaining rights for public employees. "Do we really want fire-fighters to start striking?" he asked.

The unions stand to be the biggest beneficiaries of an all-Democratic Washington. Affordable housing advocates, meanwhile, want the 2007 Federal Housing Finance Reform Act, which created a $3 billion fund bankrolled with tax revenue and the profits of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, to be spent on more housing units instead of held up by concerns over budget deficits. Trial lawyers have paid their dues: The American Association for Justice spent $6.3 million to elect Democrats in 2006 through its political action committee, the most of any single PAC. For the first half of this decade, the plaintiffs industry fought a rearguard action against the tort reform movement, which Republicans have been using to limit the size of settlements. Trial lawyers lost a big battle when the Senate passed class action lawsuit reform in 2005, but they haven't given much ground since then. When the Democrats come back, plaintiffs expect to go back on offense.

The Consumer Product Safety Reform Act, passed this year, is a model of what to expect in a Democratic future. The law doubled funding for the eponymous safety commission to $155 million by 2015, set no caps on damages, and empowered state attorneys general to make federal cases if they have "reason to believe that the interests of the residents of that State have been, or are being, threatened or adversely affected by a violation" of consumer safety. It passed the Democratic-controlled Senate by 79-13, aided by the scare over tainted toys from China.

But unions outmatch every other member of the Democratic coalition in demands and expectations. Now is their time. One organizer told me that a Democratic comeback would mean that the party had "no more excuses" for not giving them what they wanted. At Take Back America, Acuff said the party should gift-wrap anything wavering Republicans want if it will get the bill to a floor vote. "If we have to build a bridge somewhere to get it passed, then build the damn bridge!" he said. "If we have to rename a highway after somebody, rename the highway!"

Another activist, relaxing after a day of sessions and meetings, regaled me with stories of how businesses bust unions, how the National Labor Relations Board punctures budding movements, and how essential it was to change the system. He repeated my question back to me. "If we get a Democratic president, are we going to pass card check?" He leaned back and grabbed a Miller Lite from one of his brothers coming back from the bar. "If the sun comes up in the morning, we're passing card check."

David Weigel
is an associate editor of Reason.

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86 responses to “Union Rules

  1. That’s scary.

  2. Happy days are here again!
    Where do I sign up?

  3. I can’t think of a better way to help the struggling economy than to take a hammer and smack business right in the balls.

  4. I guess I’m not sure what the big deal is. Wouldn’t the secret ballot protect union membership drives more than a more public method? What’s to stop a company from selectively choosing to fire people who agreed to unionize if the drive is unsuccessful?

    Not sure what the libertarian stand is on this issue. Personally I think it’s OK if they want to loosen the rules to allow unionization, but I am concerned in general that it will backfire on those that choose to use it, like it pretty much has in other industries that end up losing more jobs overseas because the union is too expensive and inflexible to allow its target companies to compete globally.

  5. Gee, I wonder when I can expect the June issue to hit my mailbox. I guess I’ll go back to the reefkeeper’s forum for now.

  6. Wouldn’t the secret ballot protect union membership drives more than a more public method?

    That’s why unions fought for the secret ballot many years ago, when companies committed lots of abuses against those trying to organize. I suppose one might assume that the unions have more power to intimidate than the companies now.

    What’s to stop a company from selectively choosing to fire people who agreed to unionize if the drive is unsuccessful?

    That it’s illegal, I would think is a big reason. See here, from US Code Title 29, Chapter 7. (Taft-Hartley Act.)

  7. Maybe Nader will live to see his dream of Taft-Hartley repealed.

  8. So what the unions want is the ability to know the names and addresses of anyone voting against them. Oh yeah, that will be great. Everybody’s happier when they’re working for the mob, just ask em.

  9. A Secret Ballot interferes with businesses putting pressure on employees to vote against the union.

    A Card Check facilitates unions putting pressure on employees to vote for the union.

    See its not socially acceptable for the leg-breakers hired by businesses to harass employees, but it is socially acceptable for union workers to terrorize scabs. Won’t someone think of the scabs!!

  10. Would a card check also not allow employers to pressure employees in a way secret ballots do not?

    As far as it being illegal to fire someone for voting for a union, I don’t think any company would be so obvious. Just check the percentages of pro-unionists on the next general downsizing due to economic conditions, or which plants (union vs. non-union) that shut down in favor of the new sweat shop in Mexico or China.

    Anyhow, I would be in favor of loosening regulations that allow unionization if they correspondingly loosened laws that require companies to deal with them. Sort of a combo pack of ‘card check’ and ‘right to work’. It’ll never happen, but not a bad idea in my opinion.

  11. This is marginally relevant here.

  12. One other thought on that – I suppose if companies did lay off a bunch of people and selectively chose pro-unionists then it would probably generate enough data for a successful class action lawsuit; currently with ‘secret ballot’ the employer could selectively chose based on non-documented data (what opinions they may share verbally) and it would be much harder to prosecute that case.

    It has been my observation from the 20 or so years I’ve had in the workforce that most companies have policies in place purportedly to treat all employees fairly and prevent possible wrongful termination lawsuits, yet enforce them selectively in order to be able to get rid of troublemakers (or even unpopular individuals) by using the justification of minor violations of those policies that everyone breaks now and then (like showing up for work 5 mintues late, or surfing the internet on company time etc.).

  13. “One Republican staffer worried to me about collective bargaining rights for public employees. “Do we really want fire-fighters to start striking?” he asked.”

    That’s one smart staffer. Firefighters have been organized for decades (police too!). According to Dave, if unions want card check, it must be bad. Maybe it is bad, but prove it! This piece is below Reason’s standard.

  14. I, for one, welcome our new Yokeltarian overlords.

    I await with anxious anticipation the Workers’ Paradise, Comrades!

  15. This piece is below Reason’s standard.

    Drink! And then review Strange Brew.

  16. Dave never actually said it was bad, as far as I can tell.

  17. This piece is below Reason’s standard.

    Prosit, Comrades! Your jobs are safe, now.

  18. Alan, do you really need someone to prove to you that secret ballot elections are better than non-secret ballot elections? I should think it’s obvious.

    This is an issue where probably 80% of voters agree with the Republican position. If McCain doesn’t use this issue to hammer Obama into the ground, he doesn’t deserve to be President.

  19. I certainly think that individuals should have the right to organize at their discretion.

    With this in mind, Individuals should have the right to allocate their resources how they please. Say, for instance, if you could make twice-as-much money by employing individuals who can work for less in another country.

    While there is a right to freedom of association, there is no right to a job, and given that this is the case, it seems prudent to not price yourself out of the market.

    It kills me when people act as if they have some god-given moral right to a particular profession. If being a line-worker at a such-and-such company doesn’t pay well… hone your skills at a different profession… or reduce your consumption of consumer goods… or move to an area with a lower cost of living… or any number of perfectly reasonable things. Demanding more money for a job that someone else will do just as well and for less does not quite seem reasonable (or prudent). Constructing a legal code which forces individuals to pay for your services (even if they don’t want them) seems down right wrong.

    If someone isn’t paying you a livable wage, get this, don’t work for them. It is not the case that every business in the entire United States is in collusion to deprive you of a job if you quit your last because it couldn’t pay you enough.

  20. Alan,

    While public sector employees (like firemen, but also across governments) actually do participate more in unions then private sector employees, there are laws in place which forbid them from striking. The “tip of the spear” here concerns a Democratic Congress and White House changing the law to permit public sector employees to strike.

  21. I told you they was organized!

  22. While public sector employees (like firemen, but also across governments) actually do participate more in unions then private sector employees, there are laws in place which forbid them from striking. The “tip of the spear” here concerns a Democratic Congress and White House changing the law to permit public sector employees to strike.

    And it’s not entirely a hypothetical slippery slope scare tactic either– whether Homeland Security employees could strike was a big discussion during creation of the department.

  23. Secret ballos are bad. Everybody should know how everybody else votes on everything. That would be a good thing.

    Wait. What’s that you say? Secret ballots are necessary for a functioning democracy except in union elections? Then they hurt democracy?

    Hey, Mike. How ya doin’? Nice new car you got there. Wanna sign this card? Or do you wanna take food out of my children’s mouths? That wouldn’t be very brotherly of you. Y’know, what goes around comes around. Ya sure you don’t wanna sign the card?

    Nah, unions would never commit vandalism or property destruction to further their aims. They would never obliquely threaten violence to those who aren’t with the program. Ask any replacemnt worker (scab). A rational discussion of the issues is all that organized labor ever desires. Those other kind of union tactics are nothing but an urban legend.

  24. Nice piece, David. Would disagree on one thing, that of business lobbyists viewing the debate with “resigned horror.” I’m not resigned and in fact relish the opportunity to explain what an anti-democratic power play the Employee Free Choice Act. Polling done for the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace suggests that once informed, voters turn against card check. Notice how rarely union leaders advocates actually describe what the legislation does; they know the public will reject it.

    The Coalition has also been running very effective spots, IMO, on the cable news channels with the actor who plays Johnny Sac on the Sopranos. So there’s a fight, not a surrender.

    Hell of a fight though.

    Now for a shameless plug: I’ve got lots of posts on card check at the National Association of Manufacturers’ blog, Shopfloor.org.

  25. While public sector employees (like firemen, but also across governments) actually do participate more in unions then private sector employees, there are laws in place which forbid them from striking.

    A quick show of hands, please.
    Who hasn’t had a teachers strike in their state since 2003?
    Who has a link to a prosecution of a “blue flu” organizer?

  26. Not sure what the libertarian stand is on this issue.

    Secret ballots good. Card check bad.

    The Coalition has also been running very effective spots, IMO, on the cable news channels with the actor who plays Johnny Sac on the Sopranos.

    That ad is great. Oh, and I wouldn’t go calling him Johnny “Sac” to his face.

  27. Who hasn’t had a teachers strike in their state since 2003?

    Who has a link to a prosecution of a “blue flu” organizer?

    . . . . as for Michigan, Canada can have it 😉

  28. I am an account manager at a very small bicycle manufacturer in southern California (about 350 employees). We pay well above the industry standard and have excellent benefits packages.

    Last year our shop went union. This year the union demanded a package that would certainly put our company under. Last month I took a trip with a couple of company execs to look at factories in Taiwan.

    I will miss the talented people who hand build our bikes, but at least the company will survive and I will get to keep my job.

  29. anon, what’s the name of your bike company? I’ll want to avoid buying from them in the future.

  30. “e”

    Are you familiar with the concept of “material, non-public information”?

    anon is anon for a reason.

  31. anon, how small are these bicycles we’re talking about? Can a cat ride on them? a baby?

    Can’t blame you for moving at all, just make it very clear to the “talented” people what drove your decision.

  32. You know, anon, your company should consider a move to Mississippi (America’s Taiwan). You might even be able to score some sweet economic development money, and no unions.

  33. E does have a good point…

    Why pay $300 for a bike when you can pay $400? Seems like a no-brainer to me.

  34. hear – here. Fuckin’ homonyms.

  35. Overkiller, they are tiny Krusty the Clown style tricycles, it really is a bigger market than you would expect.

    Believe me I don’t relish the thought of outsourcing. I have known some of these people for fifteen plus years. Many of us came to this company together from another large manufacturer when they decided to move production to China.

    We are one of the last companies with a nationally available product line that is still building all of its bicycles in the U.S.

    Before the union we already had the best total compensation package industry-wide, and still managed to compete with the big manufacturers who already outsourced to Taiwan and China. The new package that the Union is demanding will make the survival of our company impossible.

  36. The new package that the Union is demanding will make the survival of our company impossible.

    I watched many, many meat packers close shop in the midwest because union demands made them unprofitable.

    20 years later, new plants are opening up with imported hispanic workers (no illegals there I’m sure).

    I have always been amazed at the sizeable percentage of skilled labor that would rather put themselvs out of work by closing a business than accept terms deemd unacceptable by the national organization.

  37. Many of us came to this company together from another large manufacturer when they decided to move production to China.

    Anon, I assume that earlier company also moved to China because of the greedy, thuggish unions?

  38. Overkiller, we looked at a number of U.S. locations although I don’t recall Mississippi being one of them.

    There were a number of factors involved in the decision to move production to Taiwan (regulatory, economies of scale, component incentives, R&D, etc.) I can go into them if you like. But I should warn you it’s coma-inducing level boring.

  39. Anon, how about Vietnam? I think the government there is fairly repressive of workers’ independent organizations. You should be able to get your clown bikes built fairly cheaply there..

    More than a dozen strikes by more than 40,000 workers in Ho Chi Minh City’s export processing zones have forced the Vietnamese government to raise the country’s minimum wage by nearly 40 percent

    Oops, well, crap, there goes Vietnam! Buncha lazy spoiled union thugs..

  40. Not sure what the libertarian stand is on this issue.

    I thought the libertarian stand was that unions and employers are free to agree on whatever collective bargaining agreements they want, but that the govt shouldn’t intervene in the process that leads up to that agreement.

  41. e, I never said the union was greedy or thuggish. I just don’t think their demands are reasonable.

    As a matter of fact one of the main proponents of unionizing at my current employer also happens to be one of my best friends. I have known him since high school and he was the best man at my wedding. He has always been courteous and professional when carrying out his union duties.

    As to my former employer, circumstances there were far more complicated. That company was very large and had just been purchased by a group of foreign investors. I was fairly new to both the company and the industry at that time so I wasn’t privy to the various behind the scenes machinations.

  42. e, I would like to hear some of your suggestions about what we should do. (and I don’t mean that in a sarcastic eddie haskell kind of way)

  43. It will be interesting to see how states like Texas handle this legislation. These states are growing at leaps and bounds because they do not have strict labor laws like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

    I would hate to see more jobs outsourced because labor unions are living and acting in the 19th century. They need to have a new plan or more jobs will be outsourced.

  44. This Card Check thing is only good for the Unions. The only real winner from the organization of a workforce in a plant under any union banner is the union itself. It is basically a protection racket Look at the US Auto Industry, 100% unionized and loosing billions because of labor cost while the union continues to make millions. I have been on both sides of the table (Employee/Management) and in both spheres (Union/Open) and I can say first hand that the union is bad for the economy, bad for the workers, bad for the employers and bad for the USA. Union=Communist

  45. anon, my only advice would be to think of the long term. As a member of management you have an obligation to buy labor at the lowest price possible, so of course you will want to move your plants overseas to take advantage of the conditions made possible by repressive regimes that prevent workers from organizing. So far, so good. However, there is always possibility that the workers in those countries will manage to organize in spite of their regimes and drive up the wages you pay them. Until then, I advise you to maintain close ties (ie cultivate and bribe if necessary) the local government officials in those countries and keep informed about any underground workers’ organizations in those countries, passing on any information about labor activists to those officials so that these activists can be culled from your labor force.

  46. e, sarcasm aside I am sincerely asking what you would do in my position.

  47. e, sarcasm aside I am sincerely asking what you would do in my position.

    In e’s world on Rainbow Puppy Island, you should pay your workers whatever the hell they demand, even if it comes out of your own pockets and bankrupts your business, you heartless bastard. Those guys have families to take care of, unlike you!

  48. Now someone wants to outsource our jobs to Rainbow Puppy Island!

    All kidding aside, management has to consider many factors besides just wages. Part of what keeps jobs here and sends some overseas is the regulatory climate and the availability of skilled workers. It usually isn’t that simple.

    One problem they have had in China is that competition for workers has created incredible job turnover (and rising wages to boot), which is what it’s supposed to do in the grand scheme of things. Now some jobs are going to India and Vietnam since wages in those areas are starting to look attractive relative to China.

    With the falling dollar, sometimes the work is even coming back here (but not as often as one would hope).

  49. Hey e Taiwan is a Democracy as opposed to all the worker paradises your side seems to think are so great.
    This generation is just going to have to re learn all the hard lessons that we did. They are going to have to learn the tough lesson that once your give up your rights it is really tough to get them back. Once the Libs have foothold in getting rid of the secret ballot how long will it be before they are pushing to get rid of it for the “benifit of the nation”.
    We are aboout to go into a nose dive under Dem leadership and the rest of the world is going to make sure that we never get backup again.
    The world is going to learn what it will be like without us around to keep things nice and it is going to get ugly.

  50. As to public-employee unions, federal employees are barred from striking, but the situation for state and local employees (i.e., teachers) varies widely. I think the typical rule is that ‘public safety’ workers (cops and firefighters) are barred from striking, while the paper-pushers are free to do so.

  51. What a horrible law. Say goodbye to even more manufacturing jobs that happens. It’s unbelievable how stupid the organized labor movement is.

  52. US auto manufacturers exported their jobs just as Japan’s manufacturers built their factories here. The sole difference? The Japanese built theirs in right-to-work states and don’t have ludicrously rich gold-plated retirement and health care plans for retired workers. Result courtesy of UAW? US Auto plant jobs and profits now go elsewhere. Nice job.

    Here in California, the legislature assumed manufacturers had no choice but to stay here. Thats why we’ve driven so many away with skyrocketing worker’s comp premiums (all those massages, down time and indulgent doctors); taxes, fees, lawsuits and more. Our state and many city/county employees can retire with full benefits at young ages. The State employee unions love that. So does the prison guards union. The city employees unions.

    Who carries this parasitic burden imposed without a majority vote? Well, fewer and fewer want to be the host for the parasite. Manufacturers are fleeing to china and professional businesses to Nevada. Retirees tend to leave too (9% state tax; property taxes; cell phone taxes…).

    So revenue falls, expenses rise, taxes rise and the unionized employees expect everyone to keep paying for it all. Sanctity of contract you know.

  53. This should be called the UNION INTIMIDATION ACT. I feel sorry for the guy in the parking lot who, when confronted by four organizing thugs, does not sign the card. Say goodbye to your tires.

  54. “One Republican staffer worried to me about collective bargaining rights for public employees. “Do we really want fire-fighters to start striking?” he asked.”

    Police and Firefighters are mostly unionized. They can collectively bargain, but they can’t strike. The quoted “republican staffer” obviously has head up his dark-and-smelly.

  55. anon, I wasn’t being sarcastic.

    /no I wasn’t.

  56. Re: Southdakotaboy “We are aboout to go into a nose dive under Dem leadership”

    um yeah – that happened about 7 years ago under the republicans. is your real name rip van winkle? does the name George W Bush ring a bell for you? been living under a rock much?

  57. More union membership means more union dues and more money going to fund Democrats and strengthen the plaintiffs bar. This can work both ways, Find a union member who doesn’t want his share of dues going to support politicians and legislation he disagrees with, and find an attorney ready to take on his cause as a class action against the unions on behalf of all dues paying members who feel the same way. Unions can be OK, but keep mandatory fees out of politics and only used to support internal union programs. Since campaign contributions have been adjudicated as protected speech, it violates freedom of speech if one makes a contribution through mandatory dues contributions to a candidate he doesn’t support.

  58. Jordan, yeah, what business is it of ours if China, Vietnam, or Burma tortures and oppresses workers who try to organize independent unions? Those regimes are doing the Invisible Hand (TM)’s work! Ahh capitalism is a wonderful thing..

  59. e, well if that is honestly what you would do if you were in my position, then I’m not really sure why you would never buy one of our bicycles.

    (I should note that we have no intention of suppressing local activists or bribing local officials.)

  60. It will be interesting to see how states like Texas handle this legislation.

    They can’t do a damn thing about it. Its a federal law.

  61. Jordan, yeah, what business is it of ours if China, Vietnam, or Burma tortures and oppresses workers who try to organize independent unions? Those regimes are doing the Invisible Hand (TM)’s work! Ahh capitalism is a wonderful thing..

    Funny how Taiwan (the country where anon’s company is going) is an entirely different country from China, Vietnam, and Burma. Reading is fundamental.

  62. “whether Homeland Security employees could strike was a big discussion during creation of the department.”

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the entire executive branch went on strike. My opinion of unions would completely change.

  63. Funny how Taiwan (the country where anon’s company is going) is an entirely different country from China, Vietnam, and Burma. Reading is fundamental.

    Given that China is Taiwan’s largest trade partner, and that Taiwanese firms are responsible for about 40 percent of the PRC’s total exports, it’s likely that anon’s clown bikes are being built in the mainland.

    “For better or worse, China and Taiwan comprise a single economy.”

    “Taiwan’s investment in China should be viewed as a mutual division of labor,” said HSBC’s Woo. “China acts as a cheap manufacturing base, freeing up valuable resources for research and development and management of operations in Taiwan.”

    Unless anon’s bikes designs are going to radically change, it looks like they could be handled by a pretty small firm in Taiwan that exports the actual manufacturing to a country with lower labor costs.. Gee, I wonder where that could be?

  64. Last month I took a trip with a couple of company execs to look at factories in Taiwan.

  65. Jordan, your expecting e to actually read what the hell he’s arguing against is sooo fascist. He’s too busy being concerned for the exploited American/Taiwanese/Vietnamese/PRC workers to be bothered with that comprehension bullshit.

  66. There’s actually a pretty clear distinction between bike frames manufactured in Taiwan and China. Generally you are going to find that a run of the mill department store bike is made in China as are some of the entry level lbs (local bike shop) bikes.

    The higher end bike frames requiring technical expertise (think carbon frames) or those which require quality skilled labor (aesthetically pleasing non-ferrous welding), are generally done in Taiwan.

    Finally, there are the super-high end hand made “custom frame” bikes. These are part of the trend towards the lugged steel bike frames preferred by certain purists. They can be truly beautiful when built by a skilled craftsman.

    We generally deal in the latter two of the three categories. I have to admit that I am concerned about the quality issues which may arise in that last category.

    Although there are many within the Chinese govt who think of Taiwan as just another part of China, the sentiment is far from mutual.

    /If I wasn’t completely clear let me just say for the record that the factories we are considering are located in Taiwan.

  67. In case I left the wrong impression above, I have no doubt that Taiwanese manufacturers have craftsman capable of producing very high quality work. I am just concerned about the potential complications that may arise due to the manufacturing process being out of our hands so to speak.

    In fact some of the most skilled framebuilders in the world are working in Taiwan right now.

  68. Alright, anon, I stand corrected. The factory is an honest to god Taiwanese factory.

    (..unless the workers do something stupid like join a union or something. Then it’s off to China!)

    🙂

  69. The unions have virtually destroyed manufacturing in America. They are only trying to finish the job.

  70. There won’t be any Democrat Party controlled government pushing the agenda of radical labor.

    You know why?

    Because theres going to be another front in the War on Islamofascist Terror opened in September or October, folks.

    The new front will be Iran.

    The big losers will be Ahmadedinijad and his pal Allahbama with his Democrat Party.

    The big winner will be President-elect John McCain.

  71. The guys at my union shop say “if you want a unanimous vote, make it a show of hands. If you want to know what people really think have a secret ballot.” These are union guys saying that. Taking the right to a secret vote away works against the workers. If a bunch of scary looking organizers show up and you are all alone, you will sign whatever they demand you sign.

    If half the work force wants a union, they will get one with a secret ballet. If 70 per cent don’t want they union, they will still get one with card check because when you are alone and scared and people are screaming at you and threatening you, guess what happens? They only have to indimidate 20% of the people to get to 50%.

    Don’t say I am paranoid. My grandfather was the head of an independent mineworkers local when John L. Louis’s organizers demanded they join the United Mine Workers. He counseled the members not to join because John L. was a thug. His car got machine gunned when he stopped at a stop sign on a local street soon after. Guess what? The local eventually joined.

  72. Why are unions allowed to make political donations? If I recall correctly, unions are like churches, by law they cannot be politically active without losing their tax exemptions. Why doesn’t the IRS shut them down?

  73. Very scary stuff. If you go by the recent special elections, there is a 20 point swing in favor of the democrats, which will put most republicans under in november. And since Obama is guaranteed to trounce McCain the general election, “Card Check” will happen in 2009.

  74. Always simmering just beneath the surface in any union organization is the threat of intimidation, violence, or property damage to both employer and employee. Doing away with the secret ballot leaves any employee not inclined to vote for union representation open to threats (or worse) from union goons.

    Next, expect the Democrats, should they win big in November, to try to do away with the secret ballot in local and national elections.

    Why not?

  75. Andrew P, the unions have a separate political organization that members donate to. The donations are not tax exempt. From what I’ve seen of one union the members were given the pitch of what the political action group does in DC and asked nicely for a contribution in the form a percentage of wages. They did ask nicely and enthusiastically, however I can’t answer for other unions.

  76. Here’s the reason why unions want to do away with secret ballots: Union elections are now like political elections, with each side running campaigns for and against unionization. It is costly and the unions win about 51%.

    With a card count, the union can act in secret without having to deal with an opposition campaign. And cards have a history of being unreliable. Unions get employees to sign cards by lying to them, ie., that signature is merely a request for an election, that it is merely for membership purposes, etc.

    And here is the other problem: if 50% plus one sign the cards, the balance of the workforce is compelled by the government to have a union even if it does not want one.

  77. “Do we really want fire-fighters to start striking?”

    Was this a deliberate reference to Anthony Burgess’s novel 1985?

    “At the novella’s beginning, the protagonist, Bev Jones, confronts the death of his wife. She was in hospital when it caught fire. As the firemen’s union was striking, the hospital burned to the ground….”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1985_%28Anthony_Burgess_novel%29

  78. “1985 is in two parts. The first is a series of essays and interviews (Burgess is the voices of both interviewer and subject) discussing aspects of Orwell’s book. The second is a novella set in 1985, seven years distant at the time of the novel’s writing.

    Rather than a sequel to Orwell’s novel, Burgess uses the same concept. Based on his observation of British society and the world around him in 1978, he suggests how a possible 1985 might be if certain trends continue.

    The main trend to which he is referring is the expanding power of trade unions. In the hypothetical 1985 envisioned in the book, the trade unions have become so powerful that they exert full control over society; unions exist for every imaginable occupation. Unions start strikes with little reason and a strike by one union usually turns into a general strike.

    Another major theme of the novella is the rise of Islam as a major cultural and political force in Britain, due to large-scale immigration from the Middle East; London abounds with mosques and rich Arabs.

    The device of depicting a fictional strike as causing the death of innocents, in order to make the reader feel hostile to the unions, is shared with Robert A. Heinlein’s The Roads Must Roll.”

    It’s a very good read, though like a lot of political sci-fi tends to be a bit preachy. Heinlein does better, but to be fair, Heinlein did everything better. I don’t think i would be a libertarian if it wasn’t for my love of science fiction during my youth , i still make an effort to read each year’s Prometheus Award winner…

  79. The police and firefighters aren’t supposed to strike, so they have “sick-outs” and other slow-downs instead. Laws and rules mean nothing to union people.

  80. Loved the GOP staffer’s horror at the prospect of fire fighters forming unions.

    It should be noted that the men who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 were members of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

    Fire fighters are some of the most pro-union people I’ve ever talked to.

  81. A Union is a business. Card Check gives the Union the ability to increase membership and thru dues, their profits. Once the card check does it’s thing then the collective bargining will begin and in some business the things that the employees think that they will get or should get will be on the table and the end result…Business getting the short end of the shit-stick. One business goes down and another(read Union) goes up. The only problem is that as the Union profits rise and business’ that provide a service go away because they can’t “compete” with the Union. What service does the Union provide to the public? It only serves itself. Can the Union give me a place to buy food or clothes? Can the Union give me a place where I can see a Dr? I don’t think so.

  82. I decided that no way in hell was I overpaying for another cab

  83. There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into
    consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts
    above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the
    one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in
    honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around
    things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as
    a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moment’s
    pleasure, for the rest of their lives.

  84. There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into
    consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts
    above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the
    one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in
    honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around
    things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as
    a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moment’s
    pleasure, for the rest of their lives.

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