Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

“Many of us were not even aware the vote was actually taking place”

If there’s one example union bosses like to hold up in their campaign to replace secret ballots with a petition-like process, it’s the Kaiser healthcare network. That group long ago acceded to union demands for card check. (Surely it had little to do with the fact that some of the company’s first customers were unions themselves, right?) But actual Kaiser employees are speaking up to tell a different story — and they offer another sad example of how card check is anti-democratic.

Following its own reporting on the success of Kaiser’s card check, The Orange County Register reported on the flip side today. As was predictable, employees are complaining that they were never even aware a union decision was in front of them. One midwife told the Register that “[m]ost of the Orange County midwives never even got a vote card or were notified that the vote was taking place.” Another said: “Many of us were not even aware the vote was actually taking place.”

And that’s the problem — there is no vote actually taking place. It’s simply a system of union organizers targeting specific individuals, giving them half the story, and then unionizing a whole shop.

The acting regional director of the National Labor Relations Board told the paper that the situation is hardly unique:

Complaints like Pearce’s are common after a union gains recognition through a card check, Small said. “Many times individuals call us and … say we never had a chance to vote on this or they will say we never understood that signing this card would result in the union getting in.”

Small said sometimes such complaints reflect “buyer’s remorse,” or that employees “didn’t read carefully” what they signed.

However, workers often feel as if they were disenfranchised by the card-check process. Small said this can happen when a company and a union decide which workers will constitute a proposed bargaining unit, without necessarily taking the desires of employees into account, Small said.

Categories: UFCW