Newman on Card Check

Nathan Newman has a postover on TPMCafe on Card Check, a change in the labor laws supported by unions to make it easier to unionize.  Newman is always worth reading, especially on labor issues.

I’d add the following re the coercion issue.  The central fact about labor law is that the employer has enormous power over employees by virtue of being the employer.  The employer has the power to fire union supporters, reassign them to less desirable work or shifts, impose onerous rules or production standards on them, etc.  The employer also owns the property, so they control the place where the campaign is conducted.  As part of this control they can invite non-employee anti-union consultants onto the property to campaign against the union while excluding non-employee union organizers; impose anti-solicitation rules that prevent employees who support the union from discussing the reasons to be for the union except during breaks and in non-work areas, even as the employer orders supervisors to campaign against the union even during work time.  The employer can even require employees to attend anti-union meetings where the employer makes the case against unionization (so-called “captive audience meetings”).  These acts are all unquestionably coercive. 

The union, by contrast, does not have the power to do any of these things.  There simply is no union-employee relationship that is the counterpart to the employer-employee relationship that the union can abuse to coerce employees to support the union.  So what is the coercion that people are concerned about with card check?  Believe it or not, peer pressure.  Opponents of card check are concerned that some people may be “coerced” into signing a union authorization card by peer pressure from their co-workers.  I’m not sure peer pressure is coercive at all, but people who think that employers ought to be allowed to conduct captive audience meetings and the like are poorly positioned to claim that mere peer pressure represents some sort of intolerable coercion.


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