Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Union Intimidation Study Undermines Itself

Oh Kate. Did you really just release another reheated analysis of your decade old survey of union organizers? You did.

For those of you that don’t know Kate Bronfenbrenner, PhD, she’s the union-organizer-turned-union-researcher who wrote the first study suggesting that unions–I mean businesses, oops–routinely intimidate and fire workers involved in union organizing campaigns. Today she rehashed her findings one more time (I’ve lost count of how many times she’s analyzed the 1999 survey of union organizers). And once again, surprise, surprise, she claims an “overwhelming majority of U.S. employers use a broad arsenal of legal and illegal tactics to interfere with the rights of workers.”

OK, lets stop right here and look at what her study really shows.

According to her own generous analysis of data from the National Labor Relations Board (1999 to 2003), only 6 percent of elections have an employee illegally fired and only 2 percent of elections see an employee illegally harassed.

Here’s her own table of evidence. Notice the bottom row, then compare it to the top, which summarizes the views of paid union organizers:

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In her conclusion, Bronfenbrenner only reports the findings of her thrice-rehashed survey of union organizers. She papers over the fact that her own analysis of NLRB data suggests that quantity of employer misconducted is low to non-existent. In fact, her findings almost fall in line with my own research on the issue, which determined that 3.75 percent of union organizing campaigns have an employee illegally fired.

I think the only difference between our research is that I rely on a) much more recent data (2007 to 2008), and b) I use the NLRB’s designation of an election-associated case, rather than Bronfenbrenner’s own judgment (which she doesn’t explain).

Categories: Center for Union FactsEFACEnding Secret Ballots