In this election year, some important issues fly below the radar but do deserve attention. Such an item is resurgent union efforts to reverse private-sector member declines under way since 1983 – today down to 7.4% of eligible workers. Public-sector union members are growing and comprise 36.5% of the workforce. With Democrat control of both sides of Congress and hopes for capture of the White House, unions plan to spend an unprecedented amount ($300 million) to defeat John McCain. They plan to spend as much as $1 billion in 2008 to elect those supporting laws assuring increased unionism – the AFL-CIO has budgeted $53 million and affiliates an added $200 million, the National Education Association $50 million, Service Employees International $100 million, plus the assorted PACs and 527 spending.

All of this is significant because historical data teaches us that unions …
  • make it impossible to fire underperforming workers.
  • overpay workers (GM paid janitors and security guards $75 an hour).
  • employ leaders that are not accountable (only 4.6% of federally required disclosures are audited by the National Labor Relations Board).
  • are corrupt (union staffs are four times more likely than non-union workers to be convicted of embezzlement).
  • have dues that fund lavish salaries and benefits for elected officials.
  • employ officials that are viewed by the public with lower confidence than lawyers and politicians, and only slightly higher than used-car salesmen.
There are three vacancies on the NLRB that will go unfilled this year by Democrats in anticipation of improved Congressional prospects next year for a pro-union majority. Also, chances for enough cloture votes to amend the National Labor Relations Act with the “Employee Free Choice Act” (H.R.1041 passed March 1, 2007, by 241-185 and S. 800 passed 51-48 last June 26) might result from a liberal vote in the coming fall election. Here is what this is all about and why it is important.

This law, a misnomer in every sense of the word to distort real intent, would outlaw secret balloting in union organizing elections. The law contains “card check” provisions where employees must sign a card agreeing to union representation and collective bargaining and do so in the presence of union officials. This is an open invitation to coercion. Employers must accept this card-check process under a “neutrality agreement” during the union organizing drive. Why would an employer agree to this process? Can you say blackmail?

Unions that do not gain a neutrality pact engage in attacks called corporate campaigns. Documented cases exist where unions: file complaints with regulatory agencies on workplace situations; submit allegations to the news media; disrupt corporate and shareholder meetings; exact physical and job-loss threats on employees; disrupt trade shows; and make threats to company consumers and suppliers. The reason this abomination was created by unions is quite simple, according to Stewart Acuff, organizing director of the AFL-CIO. “Elections just don’t work,” he said. The other side of the coin is the “Secret Ballot Protection Act” (H.R. 874 and senate companion S. 1173) that will never see the light of day in this Democrat-controlled Congress.

Adding insult to these injuries are labor-union attempts to involve the International Labor Organization of the United Nations (ILO) in U.S. labor law and policy. The major federal employee union, the American Federation of Government Employees, filed complaints with the ILO that a U.S. federal ban on unionization (recently and foolishly lifted by Bush Administration policy to allow collective bargaining by Homeland Security employees of the Transportation Security Administration) has excluded government workers from “freedom of association.”

Five years ago, the AFL-CIO filed a complaint with the ILO after losing a Supreme Court case that allowed the firing of an illegal alien for union-organizing activities, completely overlooking the facts that U.S. immigration law passed by Congress, signed by the President and affirmed by the Supreme Court does not have any relation to claims by the union that the ILO has “oversight responsibility.” The United Electrical Workers filed an ILO complaint against North Carolina because their state law prohibits public-sector unionization. And more recently, foreign labor officials are suing U.S. companies in U.S. courts for alleged human-rights violations of foreign workers in foreign countries.

So far it seems that these cases are accepted with standing by U.S. courts. It is quite clear that the American union movement and its leaders are playing for another team, so it is high time that American industry seize a role in stifling this resurgence of corrupt and distorted impositions on the American workforce.

It is essential that readers of this journal instruct members of Congress, House and Senate to reject this union chicanery and vote for members in the coming election who understand what is important to industry workers. IH