Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

When Unions Don’t Support Card Check …

Through studies they commission, speeches to members, and statements to the press, union bosses extol the alternative organizing method called “card check.” It’s a process everyone knows is rife with intimidation and misinformation, but hey, these guys gotta stop their membership decline. So it’s notable that while labor leaders are trying to take away representation elections from working Americans, they don’t recognize their own employees’ attempts to unionize through card check.

The most recent example comes from Laboring Away At The Institute, which reports:

SEIU Local 49 in Portland forced its own organizers to file a petition with the NLRB for an election this month (case 36-RC-6381) instead of voluntarily recognizing them based on authorization cards. If a union isn’t willing to trust cards signed by union organizers, why on earth should we trust cards signed by anyone else? Once again, free choice apparently is only appropriate for people OUTSIDE of unions.

Of course, this isn’t an isolated case. We’ve found unions forcing their employees into elections time and again:

  • In April 2006, the United Food and Commercial Workers trust fund in Cypress, California forced the Teamsters to file a petition in order to represent 150 employees of the UFCW (21-RC-20893).
  • In January 2007, UFCW Local 5 officials forced their employees into an election to be represented by the Office and Professional Employees International (32-RC-05477).
  • Only eight days later, the same UFCW local forced employees into an election to be represented by the Federation of Agents and International Representatives (32-RD-01521).
  • Going back in time, the UFCW Northern California Trust forced an election for OPEIU (20-RC-17589) in 2000.
  • In 2002, UFCW forced an election petition from SEIU (20-RC-17801).

But here’s the kicker. The Center for Union Facts has run ads highlighting the fact that union bosses want card check for employees to get into the union, but demand elections (and the chance to try to persuade members into staying) when it comes to kicking a union out. In 1999, the Teamsters forced employees of UFCW Local 1179 into a decertification election (32-RD-01336). And this year, UNITE HERE — the hands-down leader in card check organizing — forced employees of the AFL-CIO to file a decertification petition instead of agreeing to recognize card check (05-RD-01416).

It’s hard to say which is more striking: the Change To Win unions’ infighting, or Big Labor’s big hypocrisy on organizing rules.

Categories: UFCW