Constitutional Law

The Case Against Card Check

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Legal scholar Richard Epstein has a great op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal detailing the constitutional problems with the Employee Free Choice Act, which would allow workers to bypass secret-ballot elections and declare their intent to unionize by signing cards:

It is commonly supposed that economic regulation is immune to constitutional challenge since the New Deal. That's not the case with this labor law.

Consider card check and the First Amendment. Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) today, an employer can insist upon a secret ballot after 30% of workers indicate by card checks their interest in a union. The campaign that follows lets the employer air his views about the downsides of unionization before the vote takes place.

To be sure, the employer's free-speech rights are limited under the NLRA. He cannot threaten to move or shut down if workers vote for the union. Nor can he promise higher wages if they don't. But he can make predictions of what will happen if his firm is unionized, and he can point to the reversal of worker fortunes in other unionized firms.

The Supreme Court (unfortunately, in my view) has held that the peculiar labor-law environment justified these abridgements of ordinary speech rights. But it hardly follows that if the government can curtail speech rights, the EFCA can eliminate them. There is simply no legitimate government interest in promoting unionization that justifies a clandestine organizing campaign which denies all speech rights to the unions' adversaries.

Whole thing here. In reason's June 2008 issue, David Weigel explained why union activists are rubbing their hands at the prospects of card check.

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  1. Let me get this straight. The employer’s free speech rights will get violated if he is not given a chance to make the case against a particular unionization drive because under EFCA he may not know about it.

    Epstein is brillian, but that’s daft.

  2. I’m just waiting for the joe / R C Dean cage match that inevitably ensues when this topic comes up.

    They’re always good for the lulz on this one.

  3. All too often, these “free speech rights” involve subtle and not so subtle intimidation on the part of the employer, not to mention firing of union sympathizers. Under current law, the company faces (at worst) a slap on the wrist for this behavior. Their claimed support for worker rights is dishonest crap.

  4. classwarrior —

    That’s a great argument for strengthening enforcement of anti-intimidation rules and increasing penalties for violations.

    It is not, so far as I can tell, any sort of argument for ditching the principle of secret-ballot elections. The logic of which, I must admit, still utterly escapes me.

  5. Just great. Unionwarrior is here.

  6. Amazing that anyone other than a labor union organizer would defend this piece of crap legislation — union goons can come to your house and threaten you to sign these cards that take away your right to a secret ballot, form a union without the employer getting to explain their side of the story, then once formed the union can not only force the employer to recognize it, but can use the government to impose a labor contract that the employer does not want.

  7. I’m just waiting for the joe / R C Dean cage match that inevitably ensues when this topic comes up.

    I’ve got nothing to add.

    I will say, though, that I think Epstein is full of it here. I haven’t RTFA, not to mention the bill, but I seriously doubt there’s anything that actually prevents the employer from saying anything during a clandestine card check campaign. I suspect the employer is free to run a general “don’t sign that card without thinking twice” campaign 24/7.

  8. It is not, so far as I can tell, any sort of argument for ditching the principle of secret-ballot elections. The logic of which, I must admit, still utterly escapes me.

    The logic is that it allows union thugs to intimidate people. It’s pretty logical, actually.

  9. That is the lamest definition of free speech I have ever seen.

    I have an affirmative duty to tell people who don’t want me to do X that I am going to try to do it, so they can try to talk me out of it, or I’m violating their free speech rights?

    union goons can come to your house and threaten you Uh huh. And then they carve a backwards B on your face.

  10. I’ll be for “Card check” in union elections when the Democrats agree to “card check” instead of secret ballot in political elections.

  11. I’ll be for “Card check” in union elections when the Democrats agree to “card check” instead of secret ballot in political elections.

    …because joining a private organization is indistinguishable from backing a candidate for election to public office.

    Shall we pass a law mandating that they sign the cards in purple ink with put little hearts on their i’s, too?

  12. Only if I can get a handjob under the bleachers at halftime.

  13. A couple of facts that a lot of people don’t realize about card-check: unions can be certified via card-check RIGHT NOW, without an election, if the employer doesn’t object. It’s funny how secret ballots for the formation of private associations are a fundamental right, but only when the members’ employer decides he wants it to work that way.

    Second, even under the EFCA, if the employees want to have a secret-ballot election after the cards are signed, the union has to organize one.

    You know who should get to decide if the workers in a workplace will handle their unionizing drive one way instead of another? Those workers. Not their bosses.

  14. Second, even under the EFCA, if the employees want to have a secret-ballot election after the cards are signed, the union has to organize one.

    Yeah, but the threshold of the number of people who request such a measure before it becomes active is, IMO, about three times too high. 10% I think is a better number than 30%.

  15. I think the whole secret ballot thing is a red hearing for the really horrible parts of the act. Unions have been a disaster for workers in this country. Most people know that. I find it difficult to beleive that eliminating secret ballots and allowing unions to intimidate people will bring unions back in this country. If people don’t value their freedom enough to tell the union to fuck off, they are not worthy of their freedoms. I have full faith that they will.

    The really horrible parts of the bill relate to arbitration. The bill would allow a government arbitrator to basically write the terms of a contract and enforce it on both parties for up to two years if the parties don’t agree to a contract. That is truely outragous.

  16. But joe, if we had card check in political elections than party bosses could make sure voters vote their “real interest” rather than being pressured by candidates from the other party.

  17. Pardon my ignorance, but if card check is passed, what industries are affected by it?

  18. If there was universal right to work, I would agree with Joe’s point about private organizations. If I didn’t have to join the union and give it my money, I wouldn’t care how the union organized. The sad fact is that the less civilized parts of the country do not have right to work laws. Since the union is in many cases using the law to force people to join, they should be subject to basic rules of fairness in conducting their elections.

  19. Why SHOULDN’T your vote on whether or not to join a private institution be secret?

  20. And I second John’s point about being forced to pay. I think it is a lot like a political election and should be treated that way. Nobody should have to see how you vote.

  21. What is amazing is that even in the face of 3 giant unionized companies failing mostly because of the labor costs caused by unions, you still have people who think they are a good thing. UAWs stupidity in not agreeing to Congresses bailout a couple weeks ago got their worker’s plants shut down for a month. I mean if that is representation I will say no thank you.

    Try to unionize a Toyota plant. Toyota will not threaten anything. They will just close the plant take the jobs back to Japan. So then there is no job.

    There is nothing to keep a company from folding completely or moving away if a union gets voted in. They are just legally not allowed to say that is what they will do. So voting for a union is a pretty stupid thing. I mean what do you really get out of it? Honest question.

  22. Great, so as a business owner, I can set up a LAPDOG OF THE COMPANY UNION, and call my workers up to my office to sign a card.

  23. I agree with you Lurker. I think most people realize that. That is why I don’t think card check would be near the boon to the Unions they think it will be.

  24. I will agree with the right for a union to form via card check (as they are a private organization) on the day that they are treated as a voluntary private organization by the law.

    Employer wants to ignore them. Fine. Can an employer fire anyone who joins the Klan? Assuming that is acceptable, then any other private organization should be okay to, like a union. Fine.

    The problem is unions arent treated like a private organization.

  25. I’m just waiting for the joe / R C Dean cage match that inevitably ensues when this topic comes up.

    Don’t forget the sock puppets/trolls than have been infesting this forum lately.

  26. Personally I would do what old man Ford did in his day. Send in thugs to beat you if you talked about unionizing. Ah. The good old days.

  27. joe,

    You know who should get to decide if the workers in a workplace will handle their unionizing drive one way instead of another? Those workers. Not their bosses.

    I agree. You know who should decide if a company hires union or non-union employees? The bosses. Not their workers.

  28. There is nothing to keep a company from folding completely or moving away if a union gets voted in. They are just legally not allowed to say that is what they will do. So voting for a union is a pretty stupid thing. I mean what do you really get out of it? Honest question.

    I love this logic. It cleverly ignores the obvious point that it obvious has real benefits to many people, else unions would have universally failed and died off a long time ago.

    While I think card check is stupid stupid stupid, the notion that *obviously* unions are useless is approximately as stupid.

  29. robc | December 19, 2008, 1:23pm | #

    joe,

    You know who should get to decide if the workers in a workplace will handle their unionizing drive one way instead of another? Those workers. Not their bosses.

    I agree. You know who should decide if a company hires union or non-union employees? The bosses. Not their workers.

    I agree with both these statements.
    But you know who should decide whether the individual worker working for employer X joins the newly formed union or selects to bargain for him/herself? The individual worker.

  30. “Personally I would do what old man Ford did in his day. Send in thugs to beat you if you talked about unionizing. Ah. The good old days.”

    Those were the days when the Union served an actual purpose that benefitted those who joined and address actual issues as opposed to now when they are a giant entity that takes more than it gives and harms the workers worse than the company itself by working in its own interest instead of those of its members. You are seeing this currently with the UAW. A organization who was looking out for its members would say “we need to keep our jobs so lets make concessions, get the company viable, and when things get better we can ask for more again”.

  31. lmnop,

    He also failed to understand that companies cant always move. A WV or eastern KY coal mine cant just move if the employees unionize.

  32. Why hasn’t the UAW offered to buy a controlling interest in General Motors? I would like to see how GM would perform as an autonomous collective.

  33. Reinmoose,

    But you know who should decide whether the individual worker working for employer X joins the newly formed union or selects to bargain for him/herself? The individual worker.

    I also agree. However, if the owner/union negotiate a contract in which they mutually agree to be a closed shop, the worker would either have to join or look for work elsewhere.

  34. P Brooks,

    autonomous collective

    Pun intended?

  35. “I love this logic. It cleverly ignores the obvious point that it obvious has real benefits to many people, else unions would have universally failed and died off a long time ago. ”

    Unions HAVE been failing for years. Where have you been? Actually their stupidity to make concessions in this auto mess will probably be the stake through the heart.

    See my above post on the past goodness of unions. My current question of why join is about unions as they are today.

  36. I could lie, but- no, completely unintentional.

  37. I also agree. However, if the owner/union negotiate a contract in which they mutually agree to be a closed shop, the worker would either have to join or look for work elsewhere.

    Well DUH!
    Standard libertarian disclaimer #4852087712(b)

  38. “Why hasn’t the UAW offered to buy a controlling interest in General Motors? I would like to see how GM would perform as an autonomous collective.”

    An EXCELLENT question. They have plenty of money in their “pension” funds, hell they could BUY Chrysler. But they know as well as the rest of us that the companies can not go on without wages going down and they do not want to do that, not when they can make the rest of us pay for their high salarys. I mean do they think this is going to make more people want to join a union? Seriously WTF?

  39. Reinmoose,

    Standard libertarian disclaimer #4852087712(b)

    Yeah, I always forget that one.

  40. You’re fooling yourself. We’re living in a dictatorship!

  41. Elemenope, prolefeed, John, etc. are correct: this is an absurd law. And we haven’t even gotten into problems with the binding arbitration provisions.

    Another problem: It not only eliminates the secret in favor of the unions, but also the employer: everyone will know who signed and who didn’t. No potential for abuse there!

    And Joe, if you don’t know about instances of unions intimidating workers, you haven’t been paying attention. They’re not exactly rare. You can dismiss this as anecdotal, but it even happened to my mother when I was a kid. She got call from a woman threatening her if she didn’t join some union. Mom told her it was a wrong number and gave her a thorough “You should be ashamed of yourself” lecture.

  42. What is amazing is that even in the face of 3 giant unionized companies failing mostly because of the labor costs caused by unions, you still have people who think they are a good thing.

    Lurker has made the best point on this thread. I, for one, would like to hear joe’s opinion on it – since he seems to be the only one making a concerted defense of unions.

  43. Elemenope,

    Unions are down to representing about 9% of the workforce nationwide. How low would that figure be without government coerced membership in non right to work states? At one time something like 50% of workers were unionized. While they haven’t disapeared on their own, they have come pretty close. That despite having lots of money, influence, and help from the government to survive.

  44. Why hasn’t the UAW offered to buy a controlling interest in General Motors? I would like to see how GM would perform as an autonomous collective.

    P. Brooks – we may be closer to that than you think: according to the deal announced today, the pension fund entity (whose name escapes me) will be paid only 50% in cash, the other 50% will likely be stock. I would be happier if they were getting 100% stock, but its a start.

  45. John,

    Not ball busting or anything but . . . does your number include government workers?

  46. Unions are down to representing about 9% of the workforce nationwide. How low would that figure be without government coerced membership in non right to work states? At one time something like 50% of workers were unionized. While they haven’t disappeared on their own, they have come pretty close. That despite having lots of money, influence, and help from the government to survive.

    9% of the workforce is still millions of people. I find it unlikely that millions of people would, as a matter of course, belong to an organization that is, if you fellas are correct, so utterly hostile to their own interests.

    I also wonder how much of that decrease is due to the conversion from a manufacturing economy to a service economy.

  47. Elemenope,

    Millions of people still vote, too.

  48. If this goes through, can the same process be used to un-unionize?

    El:

    9% of the workforce is still millions of people. I find it unlikely that millions of people would, as a matter of course, belong to an organization that is, if you fellas are correct, so utterly hostile to their own interests.

    You frequently don’t get a choice. If you want the job, you take the union.

  49. Millions of people still vote, too.

    Very poor juxtaposition. Many people can reasonably believe that politician A or party B will serve their specific interests.

    Whereas from the way unions are talked about around here, there is no way an employee would be able to tell the difference between a unionization drive and an outbreak of cholera, and so no way to mistake the fact that, apparently, “unions kill jobs”.

  50. Elemenope,

    Obviously being in a union is of benefit to some of the union members, especially when we are talking about public sector unions. But the benefits that accrue to the union members are often more or less stolen from non-members – think of how unionized public employees can just demand increases in pay and decreases in productivity and oversight from the tax payers, think of how the teachers unions stifle education reform, think of how unions raise prices on goods and services that non-union members must pay, think of how wage increases and closed shop practices by unions can create unemployment among non-union members, think of how the private property rights of employers to hire and fire who they will are limited by unions.

    Often the union hurts its own members, but other times it benefits its members by hurting others. Its like being on a pirate ship or in a band of brigands; sometimes your thievery is a success, sometimes a failure, and sometimes you are robbed by your fellow thieves.

  51. Elemenope,

    Of those millions of people who are still in unions, how many of them are only members because they have to be to have the job or to work in that trade? A lot I would suspect. Take those people out and you are left with a million or so people out of a 300 million person country who feel hunky dory about their unions. In absolute terms I guess that is significant. But in relative terms to the entire population and what unions once were, it is pretty pathetic. Like I said, unions haven’t died but they are not exactly healthy.

  52. “no way to mistake the fact that, apparently, “unions kill jobs”.”

    LMNOP If you can explain how a company that is barely making it can be helped to grow and prosper (a good thing for it’s employees BTW) by having it’s shop unionized I am happy to listen. But you can’t. You know as well as I do that it is generally the death knell for a company and the birth of a new factory in China.

  53. I think it’s an extraordinarily apt analogy when one considers that millions of people vote against their own interest. It’s called being stupid, and we consume that in mass quantities. It’s a species thing, not an American thing.

    The idea that unions don’t ever use political and other means to intimidate prospective members into joining is totally against the history of unions in this country. Arguing that employers are bad, too, doesn’t change the problem with not protecting the ability of employees to make a choice without coercion. We make sure they can do it from the employer side to some extent, why isn’t it right to do so from the union side? Are unions uniformly good and employers uniformly bad?

  54. annecdote:
    (I heard this from someone who lives there)
    The new comcast center in Philadelphia was significantly delayed and over budget on account of the Philadelphia plumbers union protested that the building contractors wanted to use no-flush urinals and other water-saving devices to gain LEED certification, and the eventual thing that got the project going again was that the plumbers got to install the pipes anyway, “just in case they changed their mind sometime after it was built.”

    Yeah, what a great union. So great for the plumbers… but for everyone else?

    Anyway, they should be allowed to exist as long as they’re not using government to get their way, etc. etc. etc.

  55. I would be happier if they were getting 100% stock, but its a start.

    I would be really happy if the government wold just say, “You idiots had better work this out among yourselves. The clock is on the field.”

  56. Here’s a little corroboration of Reinmoose’s story on the Comcast building in Philadelphia.

    http://philadelphia.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/stories/2006/04/03/daily32.html

  57. Why SHOULDN’T your vote on whether or not to join a private institution be secret?

    It should, if you want it to be. As the EFCA
    provides.

    John, thank you for acknowledging what this fight is about – opposition to unions, with the highfalutin’ language about secrets ballots being a red herring. Most are not so honest, and try to cloak their position.

    Lurker | December 19, 2008, 1:14pm | #

    What is amazing is that even in the face of 3 giant unionized companies failing mostly because of the labor costs caused by unions…Actually their stupidity to make concessions in this auto mess will probably be the stake through the heart. Labor costs are 10% of the Big Three’s outlays, the UAW has made huge concessions over the past year, and Lurker is a very gullible person.

    robc,

    The only time a business has to hire union workers is when they consensually agree to a contract stating that they will only hire union workers. Are there any other aspects of freedom of companies to enter in contracts you wish to curtail?

    Reinmoose,

    The only time a company is prevented from hiring non-union workers is when it consensually enters into a contract in which it agrees to hire only union workers. Are there any other areas of companies’ freedom to contract you with to curtail?

    Another problem: It not only eliminates the secret in favor of the unions, but also the employer: everyone will know who signed and who didn’t. No potential for abuse there! Workers sign cards to organize RIGHT NOW. The employer gets a copy of those cards RIGHT NOW. EFCA will change absolutely nothing about this.

    And Joe, if you don’t know about instances of unions intimidating workers, you haven’t been paying attention. I’m going to dismiss your story as sub-anecdotal. Union intimidation is about as common as unicorns.

    Every time some doctor in England decides against an operation, Michael Moynihan writes a post about. There have been probably 100 posts about the EFCA and the evil, scary, unions, and lots of hand-waving about union thugs. And yet, none of them have contained any evidence of such a thing. I suppose the anti-union activists at Reason, funded by anti-union political organizations, have all of these stories sitting in their archives, but just decided not to run them.

  58. But but fifty years ago, my momma…

    That’s great, but we’re not talking about fifty years ago.

    Backwards B people: is that really what you want to be?

  59. Unionizing helps the average, at the expense of the best and worst workers. Sans union, High-value workers will be retained/paid well because of their value to the company, and Low-productivity workers are worth hiring at lower pay rates.

    Upon unionization, a collectively-bargained wage rate may be less than the best worker could earn on his own and more than an employer is willing to pay a low-productivity worker, effectively meaning net losses for those workers in the form of pay-cuts or layoffs.

    One must consider the composition of the workforce in relation to this continuum as a factor in evaluating the efficiency or benefit of unionization.

    Please forgive my lack of knowledge on the subtle intricacies of union contracts.

  60. Of those millions of people who are still in unions, how many of them are only members because they have to be to have the job or to work in that trade?

    Anecdotal evidence yet again. My sister has worked for United Airlines for 17 years, and was at one point the Secretary Treasurer of the union. UAL bought out some tiny regional airline, and guess what? She got to go to Nowheresville, WV and sign all the newly acquired employees up for the union. Or else they didn’t have jobs no more. So, yeah, people often don’t get a choice as to whether or not they’re in a union. I could throw out std libertarian argument about “Get new job” but we all know that doesn’t happen immediately. Most of us would take the devil we know rather than an instant decision to be unemployed.

  61. “Union intimidation is about as common as unicorns.”

    I’m gullible? LMAO wow I can’t believe you have the stones to say I am gullible and make that unicorn statement.

    The fact you can’t get around joe is that the foreign companies that have factorys here do not have the same labor costs as the US companies. While it is true GM, Ford, and Chrysler has plenty of other issues the labor is a huge piece that without they might be making it.

  62. joe,

    The only time a business has to hire union workers is when they consensually agree to a contract stating that they will only hire union workers.

    This is bullshit and you know it. If this were true, it would be legal to fire employees for signing the card check. Companies like wal-mart wouldnt care about unions if they could ignore them and negotiate individually with the employees anyway.

    Are there any other aspects of freedom of companies to enter in contracts you wish to curtail?

    Read my posts, you fuckwit. I specifically said that I support companies and unions negotiating closed shops. What freedom of contract have I opposed in this thread, point to one?

  63. “Union intimidation is about as common as unicorns”

    If this were true, no one would oppose card check and no one would be pushing for card check. Without intimidation a card check and secret ballot would give EXACT same results.

    I am counting “peer pressure” and “shaming” as forms of intimidation, because they are.

  64. I’m gullible? LMAO wow I can’t believe you have the stones to say I am gullible and make that unicorn statement.

    The most gullible are always passionate about how true their delusions are. That’s how a con man works – he doesn’t work himself to death making you believe something, he tells you something you really want to believe, and then you do all the hard work of fighting off reality on your own.

    The fact you can’t get around joe is that the foreign companies that have factorys here do not have the same labor costs as the US companies. 10% is 10%. That simply cannot explain why the manufacturers are in trouble. And, once again, you’ve completely failed to acknowledge that the UAW has, in fact, made considerable concessions already, bringing their labor costs down very close to those of the foreign manufacuters going forward.

  65. robc,

    You get very passionate when proven wrong. “Fuckwit?” My my.

    If this were true, no one would oppose card check HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!! Right, because the only reason anyone opposed card check is concern for the poor workers being intimidated. Lord knows, there’s nobody who opposes it on the grounds that they don’t like unions, and don’t want to see them get stronger, and merely use backwards B stories about union thugs as a pretext.

    …and no one would be pushing for card check. Actually, people are pushing for card check to resist EMPLOYER intimidation.

    I am counting “peer pressure” and “shaming” as forms of intimidation, because they are. I’m looking at you as if you were a six year old girl on a tricycle with pig tails and a lolipop, because you are. Jeebus, “shaming?”

  66. “The most gullible are always passionate about how true their delusions are. That’s how a con man works – he doesn’t work himself to death making you believe something, he tells you something you really want to believe, and then you do all the hard work of fighting off reality on your own.”

    Only someone like you could make that statement without recognizing you are talking about yourself. I think even those who agree with you will agree with that. On the subject of unions you are about as dogmatic as they come.

    The biggest problem in labor costs is not so much the hourly wages but the legacy costs of former employees. You know this already and are ignoring it so I am not going to beat it to death.

    I am not militantly anti union but when they come to me asking me to give the tax dollars I worked for over to overpaid union workers I get irritated by it.

  67. joe,

    Actually, people are pushing for card check to resist EMPLOYER intimidation.

    How can the employer intimidate a secret ballot? Its secret. Duh.

    Both the union and the employer can intimidate under card check. After all, since, according to you, employers dont have to hire union members, signing a card could be a firing offense (continuing to hire is the same as hiring initially).

  68. Jeebus, “shaming?”

    Explain why card check and secret ballot would ever be different in a non-intimidation world?

    I brought up shaming and peer pressure because I could see those as the obvious counter argument to the question I just asked. “Well, we didnt intimidate him into signing it, but we wouldnt invite his family over to cookouts anymore if he didnt”.

  69. You get very passionate when proven wrong

    You havent proven me wrong yet.

    I repeat: What freedom of contract have I opposed in this thread, point to one?

  70. Of course to joe wouldn’t get the humor in this because there is no Union intimidation of anyone like ever and stuff.

  71. Since 1975, the National Institute for Labor Relations Research has collected more than 9,000 reports of union violence.

    Unicorns are more common than I ever would have imagined.

  72. How can the employer intimidate a secret ballot? Its secret. Duh.

    Most of the time, they warn the whole workforce that they’ll be punished if they vote for the union.

    Both the union and the employer can intimidate under card check. Card Check will make it considerably harder to intimidate workers out of joining a union, and you know that. It will require the recognition of the union when a majority of employees sign cards, and eliminate the weeks- or months-long period after the cards are signed, during which employers threaten employees.

    You’re just deliberately ignoring everything you know about how employers fight organizing drives, to win argument on the internet with someone you’ve never laid eyes on. That’s pathetic.

    After all, since, according to you, employers dont have to hire union members, They don’t, unless they’ve entered into a contract to do so. This is not a debateable point.

    A signing a card could be a firing offense Nope. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

    (continuing to hire is the same as hiring initially). Are we back to you making up your own definitions of words now? Pass, thanks.

    Explain why card check and secret ballot would ever be different in a non-intimidation world? Why would I do that? My argument is exactly the opposite – that card check is necessary to counter employer intimidation.

    “Well, we didnt intimidate him into signing it, but we wouldnt invite his family over to cookouts anymore if he didnt”. boo fuckity hoo. We’re supposed to be ok with subjecting people to threats and firings for trying to form a union, because somebody might suffer social repercussions?

  73. I repeat: What freedom of contract have I opposed in this thread, point to one?

    You have opposed the right of employers to enter into contracts requiring them to hire only union labor.

  74. Since 1975, the National Institute for Labor Relations Research has collected more than 9,000 reports of union violence.

    The key word being “reports.”

    That, btw, is thirty three years, in a country with a population that has grown from two hundred million to three hundred million.

  75. Come on, guys. joe’s just dickin’ with you, as he’s been doing a lot lately. Recall that he was arguing that the whole country was becoming more like New England in another thread.

  76. joe,

    You have opposed the right of employers to enter into contracts requiring them to hire only union labor.

    Bullshit.

    Reading is fundamental dude.

    I refer thee to my 1:29 post:

    However, if the owner/union negotiate a contract in which they mutually agree to be a closed shop, the worker would either have to join or look for work elsewhere.

    I specifically and directly support what you said I dont support. You either cant read or are a liar. I will nicely assume the first.

  77. joe,

    Over 200 convictions, that isnt just “reports”. The page I took it from mentions that do to some laws, many cases are never reported because they arent illegal.

    There arent 200 unicorns in this country.

  78. Are we back to you making up your own definitions of words now? Pass, thanks.

    In an at will state, hiring is on a moment-by-moment basis. You may draw a distinction between “not hiring a union worker” and “not being allowed to fire a union worker” but I dont. Of course, I oppose any limits (other than contractual, duh) on at will hiring/firing. But we dont need to debate whether it should be legal to not hire/fire on race/sex/etc.

  79. joe,

    It will require the recognition of the union

    This is my main point. Why should a company have to “recognize” a union at all? Regardless of the vote? Unless they contractually agree to it, I see no reason they should have to recognize their existence at all. Workers can strike if they want to force the employers hand.

    I will gladly allow card check (which seems fine for a private organization) if you will grant treating unions as a private organization that a company can recognize or not as they see fit, like is fitting for a private organization.

  80. Extending my point, due to the law, Unions are not private organizations, they are quasi-governmental, in that they have specific government protections that dont apply to private organizations. No one requires businesses to recognize the Knights of Columbus.

    While employer intimidation (I might call it “honesty”, in that it seems silly that I could shut down my company and move it if a union forms, but I cant tell the employees that in advance) might moderately go down with card check (although, I still dont see how you influence a secret ballot other than via vague threats – no SPECIFIC intimidation) I could see it going up even more with card check. Companies could initimidate specific employees who signed the cards.

    In both cases of union and employer intimidation, the possibilities are worse under card check. Occam’s razor suggests the reason the union wants it is so they can use that intimidation (even if its the legal, peer pressure type).

  81. If card check is such a great idea, why isn’t it being offered more broadly? Why is it only being offered as a way to bring unions in, but not to decertify them?

    I would very likely drop my opposition to the idea if it was a two-way street.

  82. Over 200 convictions

    In 33 years, in a country whose population has risen from 200 million to 300 million.

    There have been about 200 unicorns in this country over the past 33 years. Give or take a rounding error.

    Companies could initimidate specific employees who signed the cards. Companies can, and do, already intimidate specific employees who sign the cards. Under current law, the card signings are required. EFCA will not change that. So, there is no possibility of additionally intimidation by employers under Card Check.

    In both cases of union and employer intimidation, the possibilities are worse under card check.

    Under current law, once again, rounding up signed cards is already required. THIS WILL NOT CHANGE UNDER EFCA. The union organizers already have to get signed cards for the union to be certified, so there is no potential for increase in union intimidation with card check.

  83. Joe keeps repeating “Labor costs are 10% of the Big Three’s outlays”, but I would like to see evidence of this claim. Here’s what I found for GM for 1999:

    Worldwide payrolls-continuing operations $21,800,000,000
    Total costs and expenses: $44,457,000,000

    That’s darn close to 50%. Or are you defining “labor costs” to mean only assembly line workers or something?

  84. Why is it only being offered as a way to bring unions in, but not to decertify them?

    EFCA is being put forward to address a specific problem that actually exists – the intimidation of workers by companies who receive signed cars, in the runup to elections. What problem is out there that would be solved by allowing decertification by card check?

    I don’t have any objection in principle to decertification through card check, but it wouldn’t change anything. Currently, unions are decertified when 1) there is a union in a workplace and 2) there are enough people dissatisfied with the union that they achieve a majority. It’s very rare.

    You’re saying there would be MORE union decertifications if people could do so merely by signing cards, rather than by signing cards and having a secret ballot? Um, if there is all of this “union thug” intimidation out there, why would you want to eliminate the secret ballot for decertifications? Insisting that card check isn’t good enough only makes sense if you assume that there is significant intimidation.

  85. joe,

    The union organizers already have to get signed cards for the union to be certified, so there is no potential for increase in union intimidation with card check.

    Not true. If a hypothetical worker opposes the union, he can sign the card to avoid intimidation and then vote against in the secret ballot. With ONLY card check, this hypothetical worker would have to hold out and would thus be exposed to any intimidation.

    Under current law, the card signings are required. EFCA will not change that. So, there is no possibility of additionally intimidation by employers under Card Check.

    Mostly true, but hypothetically, an employer can count on the secret ballot going his way and not use the intimidation on the cards. If card check BARELY gets the needed numbers, instead of using intimidation they can call for the secret ballot and hope a few votes switch. Without the secret ballot possibility, they would be more likely to use intimidation.

  86. Joe the bottom line is that thing that you have refused to deal with is the secret ballot. Most of us don’t care about any of the provisions other than doing away with secret ballot.

    From your posts assuring us nothing is really changing, the loss of the secret ballot seems to be the only real change in existing law. Why is this such a good thing again or why can’t that simply be removed if the other components are what is really crucial?

  87. PapayaSF,

    Or are you defining “labor costs” to mean only assembly line workers or something? Right. Since that is the subject of the thread – the cost of the UAW’s labor – that’s what I was refering to.

    Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

  88. joe,

    The fact that there have been over 9000 cases and only 278 or whatever the number was convictions suggests that the law is too weak. The page I was on (I dont know what it was, but I suggest you go read it 🙂 ) discusses why the number is so low. Both of them. I do remember that part of the problem is federal law trumping local laws and preventing some local law enforcement from getting involved.

  89. Lurker,

    EFCA doesn’t “do away with the secret ballot.” If the employees want a secret ballot, they will have one. Under current law, there is no requirement for a secret ballot, only that there can be a vote if the employer insists on one.

    The only thing EFCA will change is that the employers will not be able to demand a vote, and a weeks-long period of threatening workers, when the employees themselves don’t want one.

    And rather than “refuse to deal with” this issue, I raised it myself hours ago.

    It is a good thing not to allow employers to insist upon an election when the employees don’t want one, because 1) the employer really shouldn’t have a say in whether their employees organize or not anyway, and 2) eliminating this “hire consultants to spy on, threaten, intimidate, and fire unionists” period will address a serious problem that actually exists.

  90. The fact that there have been over 9000 cases and only 278 or whatever the number was convictions suggests that the law is too weak.

    Unions: guilty until proven innocent.

  91. joe,

    Right. Since that is the subject of the thread – the cost of the UAW’s labor – that’s what I was refering to.

    Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

    Actually, though, the union negotiations affect the labor costs for non-union employees (even management).

    I dont know how it works at GM and etc. but at GE, any benefits gained by the union in negotiations MUST be given to all employees, including management (Im not sure how this works across multiple unions in multiple fields, but that was how it worked at least within Appliance Park). Thus, union negotiations can affect much more than just union payroll.

  92. joe,

    Unions: guilty until proven innocent.

    OJ too. In the court of public opinion, what the evidence seems to suggest is good enough for me. For actually convicting them in court, Im willing to assume innocent. I would point you to more details from the article but I dont feel like googling again.

  93. joe,

    the employer really shouldn’t have a say in whether their employees organize or not anyway

    You havent addressed my main point that deals with this. Your point, which is a good one, only makes sense if the employer isnt then required to recognize the union after it is organized. Add that in and the whole makes sense.

  94. Union intimidation, like rape, is widely underreported and thus there are less convictions than there should be. As analogies go, this is much more accurate than unicorns.

  95. Joe, I still want to see some proof of your claim. In 1999 GM had about 388,000 employees. I can’t find the same year, but in 2003 the UAW says it had about 118,000 members who worked for GM. So you seem to be claiming that the (roughly) one third of GM employees in the UAW only accounted for about 20% of GM’s total payroll costs, or 10% of their total expenses? That doesn’t sound correct to me.

  96. If we’re talking about labor costs here, let’s make sure we account for all the costs, including the job bank, the pensions, the retiree health care, etc.

    What problem is out there that would be solved by allowing decertification by card check?

    The difficulty in getting rid of unions?

    I submit there is at least as much “intimidation” by unions in decertification elections as there is by employers in certification elections. Unless you live in Cloud Cuckoo Land, that is, and believe that only Evil Capitalists would intimidate workers, and unions would never muss a hair on their heads.

    Because, let’s face it, both sides play hardball, and pretending only one side does is rank stupidity. If card check is a remedy for one side playing hardball, why not for both?

  97. What problem is out there that would be solved by allowing decertification by card check?

    The difficulty in getting rid of unions?”

    Once again, thanks for making it clear what this is about. What’s the problems? Too many unions are the problem.

    Intimidation is a red herring for people who want to bust the unions, and in their more honest moments, they tell you that themselves.

  98. Any threats or violence are now and will be illegal under EFCA. That will not change.

    You guys are getting upset because the EFCA will, in your minds, result in dreaded “social pressure.” Egads!

    Any employee will be free to sign or not the card, free in the truest libertarian sense that we get here all the time on H&R.

  99. Intimidation is a red herring for people who want to bust the unions, and in their more honest moments, they tell you that themselves.

    And I suspect it is equally a red herring for union organizers. The “intimidation” they are worried about is a company making its case that unionization is a bad idea.

    I know for a fact that unions routinely employ very high pressure tactics that most people would call intimidation. I’ve seen it, and I’ve talked to people who have been on the receiving end of it.

    Now, the employees are all big boys, and can handle employer intimidation at least as well as the more muscular variety practiced by unions.

    It still leaves open the question: If both sides put pressure on/”intimidate” employees (and we know they do), and card check solves that problem on one side, then why doesn’t it solve it on the other? Why not make this available to both sides? Isn’t that the essence of fairness?

  100. Back from a vacation. Just read the whole thread. And wow: The volume of points and posts ignored by joe is mindblowing. (Or would be if it weren’t so typical.)

    He just slithers away and lets the thread die without ever even addressing many of the essential points presented to him — most glaringly, robc’s point that the entities the law has deemed “employers” are mandated to recognize the ones deemed “unions.”

    THAT is the fundamental problem with U.S. labor law. Everything else is incidental. The infringement of liberty happens right there. That’s the pivot point. All else — secret ballots, “card check,” etc. — is just messy, tangential detail.

    The government has no business codifying some arbitrary group that happens to call itself a “labor union,” anymore than it has business getting involved with the Knights of Columbus, to use robc’s example. This is where the argument should start and end. But joe wouldn’t even engage it.

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