Yesterday, at precisely 5:12 PM Eastern Standard Time, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced by press release that it was authorizing complaints against Wal-Mart at the behest of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW).
Setting aside the fact that the announcement comes just a week before the UFCW plans to picket the retailer, something more questionable caught our eye. The UFCW’s press release heralding the NLRB’s move came two hours before the NLRB’s announcement at 3:05 EST:
The National Labor Relations Board General Counsel is issuing a decision today to prosecute Walmart for its widespread violations of its workers’ rights.
We’re left guessing, who leaked the news to the UFCW?
As organizations, newspapers, and others start to line up in support of the Employee Rights Act, The Washington Examiner has an interesting take on the ERA’s prospects in Congress:
The ERA is also the GOP’s best response to the Democratic-backed Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage to a job-destroying $10.10. It can be the perfect GOP amendment to any wage hike bill. Union leaders and their Democratic allies in the Senate and the House will be hard put when it comes to explaining why they are for higher wages for entry level workers but against protecting individual rights for more experienced employees whose interests they claim to represent.
Last Thursday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Georgia) re-introduced the Employee Rights Act(ERA), a comprehensive piece of legislation that would revamp and revitalize America’s Depression-era labor laws. A key provision of the ERA is paycheck protection, a provision that would require unions to gain the affirmative consent of members before using dues money for political purposes. Our Senior Research Analyst took to Fox News’s Fox and Friends to lay out the case for this provision.
Labor unions put over 90 percent of their political donations towards Democratic candidates, but exit polling consistently shows that roughly 40 percent of union household members vote for Republicans. Under the current system — established by a Supreme Court decision titled Communication Workers of America v. Beck — union members in non-right-to-work states who don’t want to support candidates the union supports must typically resign their union memberships and file official “objection letters” to obtain rebates of their share of the union’s political contributions.
The ERA would simplify this process, allowing dissenting members to refrain from signing up to the political program rather than filing their own objections. Additionally, other provisions of the ERA would guarantee that regardless of the unions’ actions, political dissenters would not be disenfranchised from voting by secret ballot on contracts and whether to strike (as they frequently are now).
Today, Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT) and Representative Tom Price (R-GA) reintroduced the Employee Rights Act (ERA). The ERA is a set of commonsense reforms that put employees’ rights first when it comes to labor law.
The bill is composed of eight straightforward principles:
Majority of All Employees — Require that a majority of all employees in a proposed unit vote in favor of joining a union, not merely a majority of those who vote.
Secret Ballot Elections — Guarantee that a majority of all employees have a right to a secret paper ballot election. Prevents pressuring an employer to deny a secret ballot election.
Political Protection — Require unions to receive opt-in permission from each member to use his or her union dues for purposes other than collective bargaining (e.g., political support).
Union Recertification Elections — Require all unionized workplaces to hold a secret ballot referendum periodically to determine whether the employees wish to remain represented by their current union.
Employee Privacy Protection — Gives employees the right to opt out of having their personal information shared with a union during an organizing campaign.
Decertification Coercion Prevention — Strengthen the National Labor Relations Act to prohibit unions from intimidating or coercing employees from exercising their rights, including their right to decertify the union.
Secret Ballot Strike Vote — Ensure that a majority of all employees in the bargaining unit have the right to a secret ballot vote before union leaders can declare a strike.
Criminalizes Union Threats — Forbid unions from using violence, or threats thereof, in an effort to coerce employees.
Find out more at EmployeeRightsAct.com
President Obama has shown time and again he will stop at nothing to secure support for his signature healthcare reform, legal and ethical considerations be damned. First it was the Louisiana Purchase. Then it was the Cornhusker Kickback. And now, we learn that labor unions are getting a special payment too – the Big Labor Bribe.
That’s the news reported today that the Obama administration will seek regulations to exempt from a costly Obamacare tax “certain self-insured, self-administered” health insurance plans, aka, Taft-Hartley labor union plans. This back room deal comes only a couple months after the administration denied the AFL-CIO’s request for certain other privileges under the Affordable Care Act. But then again, when you spend hundreds of millions of dollars electing Obama and other national democrats, you expect to receive a favor in return – and this is it.
Next week, in a case entitled Unite-HERE Local 355 v. Mulhall, the Supreme Court will consider whether card-check “neutrality agreements” violate employee rights under the Labor-Management Relations Act (a.k.a. Taft-Hartley). These agreements, frequently forced on an employer by a union corporate campaign or potentially by a worker center campaign, require the employer not to speak on the potential outcomes of unionization and not to allow employees to have a secret ballot vote.
The question before the court is whether concessions by Mardi Gras Gaming (a casino) to Unite-HERE Local 355 qualify as “things of value” under the Act. Under Taft-Hartley, employers or their agents cannot “pay, lend, or deliver, or agree to pay, lend, or deliver, any money or other thing of value […] to any labor organization, or any officer or employee thereof, which represents, seeks to represent, or would admit to membership, any of the employees of such employer.”
Mardi Gras Gaming agreed to recognize a card-check procedure, not to speak out on the issue of unionization, and to hand over a list of unionizable employees to the union. In return, the union agreed not to strike and to help pass a ballot measure allowing slot machine gambling. Employees who oppose unionization like Martin Mulhall, who filed suit to block the agreement, had no seat at the table.
The Cato Institute legal team argues that these perks absolutely are “things of value,” noting:
We argue that, not only are Mardi Gras’s concessions clearly “things of value,” they are the types of exchanges that the Taft-Hartley Act was specifically passed to prohibit. The union exchanged a promise of “peace” from strikes and boycotts for concessions from the casino that compromised Mr. Mulhall’s right to dissent from unionization. The “exchange” was little better than extortion.
We’ll see how the Supremes rule, but there is another option to restore the rights of employees like Mulhall who are edged out by Big Labor’s effectively extortionate behavior. The Employee Rights Act would require all unionization campaigns to be decided by a secret, private ballot election — a position supported by more than three-quarters of Americans, with equal support from union households. If SCOTUS fails to stand up for employees’ rights, Congress a clear path to do so.