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US Govt: Doing what it can to forbid people to join a union

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Wed 18 Oct, 2006 07:39 pm
<shakes head>

Unbelievable to a European... freedom to organise on the workfloor should be a basic freedom in any democracy...

Quote:
Take This Job

The New Republic
by the Editors
Post date 10.12.06 | Issue date 10.23.06

Keeping labor organizers at bay used to be a bloody business. In May 1937, when United Auto Workers leader Walter Reuther tried to unionize a Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan, he was confronted by Henry Ford's hired goons. In the mêlée that ensued, the legendary labor organizer was slammed to the ground, kicked in the head, and tossed down multiple flights of stairs.

Today's business executives don't hire goons--and, thanks to George W. Bush, they don't need to. While every worker technically has the right to organize and join a union, not all can do so under the protection of the National Labor Relations Board (nlrb), which sanctions government-supervised union elections and bars employer harassment. Denying certain workers these protections blocks them, in effect, from unionizing. And that is exactly what the nlrb--currently dominated by conservative Bush appointees--has done. For instance, the board has denied protection to certain temporary workers and subcontracted employees. Now the nlrb has handed business its biggest such victory yet: Earlier this month, it ruled that the nurses at a Michigan acute-care facility who set schedules for other nurses are not really employees but rather supervisors--which means they aren't protected by the nlrb. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the decision could prevent as many as eight million workers in similar roles from joining unions. That would certainly please business leaders. But it should make the rest of us uneasy.

Professionals--such as the Michigan nurses--were a miniscule part of the U.S. workforce in 1937, when Reuther battled Ford in Dearborn. Today, they represent over one-fifth of all workers. Today, they represent over one-fifth of all workers, and labor's survival in this country probably depends upon its growth in that sector. Many of these professionals occupy an ambiguous space in the workforce: Though they have little or no control over wages and workplace conditions, they still perform minor supervisory roles. Software programmers, for example, serve as team leaders; nurses have aides; and scientists rely on lab assistants.

Businesses are using this ambiguity to exploit an obscure 1947 amendment to the original National Labor Relations Act. The amendment, designed to prevent factory foremen from joining unions, denied supervisors nlrb protection to organize. Until recently, however, the nlrb still counted workers (including professionals) as employees rather than supervisors if they performed only rudimentary supervisory tasks. That was in keeping with the bill's original intent: The Senate's analysis of the amendment at the time distinguished actual supervisors from "straw bosses, leadmen, set-up men, and other minor supervisory employees." And the bill itself distinguished between the "independent judgment" of supervisors and the "discretion and judgment" exercised by professional employees.

The Rehnquist Court chipped away at these distinctions starting in 1994, but now the nlrb itself has left them in rubble. In this month's decision, the board ruled that "charge nurses"--who, as part of their duties, decide daily which patients other nurses will see--are supervisors, not employees. As the two Democrats on the nlrb noted in their dissent, the ruling ignores the fact that these "charge nurses" clearly functioned like "straw bosses" or "leadmen" rather than like foremen. They work with the employees they are said to supervise, and they lack the authority to discipline or reward these workers. The decision, the nlrb's Democrats wrote, "threatens to create a new class of workers under federal labor law: workers who have neither the genuine prerogatives of management, nor the statutory rights of ordinary employees." Such workers--who could include professionals like engineers, writers, editors, scientists, pharmacists, physicians, and social workers, as well as nonprofessionals like truck drivers, cooks, and construction workers--may soon find themselves stranded, along with charge nurses, in a gray area of the law.

That undoubtedly warms the hearts of Republicans everywhere. Labor's power may be on the wane, but unions are still the country's most organized advocates for social and economic equality--and a key counterweight to the political influence of big business. As Bush ally Grover Norquist explained in 2004, "Every worker who doesn't join the union is another worker who doesn't pay $500 a year to organized labor's political machine." No wonder Bush's nlrb appointees are so eager to strike blows against labor like the one they delivered this month. Think of it as the bureaucratic equivalent of being thrown down a flight of stairs.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Oct, 2006 09:18 pm
I'm lost...only people who supervise absolutely nothing and nobody have a RIGHT to join a union in the US?????
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Oct, 2006 10:47 pm
So union membership = "employer harassment"?

Right, I see!

I wonder what the definition of employee harassment is, then?
0 Replies
 
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2006 10:05 pm
One union to one company. One company with one name. No partial ownership by businesses. Industry-wide unions create oligarchies as they force smaller companies out of business with their wage demands.

Conglomerates are companies with multiple names to avoid unionization. Same with multi-nationals.
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 Oct, 2006 04:15 am
Quote:
As Bush ally Grover Norquist explained in 2004, "Every worker who doesn't join the union is another worker who doesn't pay $500 a year to organized labor's political machine." No wonder Bush's nlrb appointees are so eager to strike blows against labor like the one they delivered this month. Think of it as the bureaucratic equivalent of being thrown down a flight of stairs.


"Defunding the left" is a consistent and ubiquitous strategy utilized by the republican party for some time now. Rove, Abramoff and Norquist have been working on this strategy since college republican days (see Easton's Gang of Five). Or DeLay's famous quote, "We're just following the old adage of reward your friends and punish your enemies." The K Street strategy and the faith-based initiatives strategy are paradigmatic.

Under Thatcher in Britain, Reagan in the US, and Brian Mulroney in Canada, unions were targeted for disempowerment. That targeting (and the propaganda that facilitated it) has been amazingly successful.
0 Replies
 
Madison32
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Oct, 2006 12:26 am
UNION MEMBERSHIP IS DECLINING THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

Growth/Decline of unions compared
In the mid-1950s, 36% of the United States labor force was unionized. Even at America's union peak in the 1950s, union membership was lower in the United States than in almost all comparable countries. By 1989 that figure had dropped to about 16%, the lowest percentage of any developed democracy except France.

For comparison, here are some percentages for other developed democracies, published in 1990:

95% in Sweden and Denmark.
85% in Finland
Over 60% in Norway and Austria
Over 50% in Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Over 40% in West Germany and Italy.[1]
In 1987 United States unionization was 37 points below the average of seventeen countries surveyed, down from 17 points below average in 1970.[2]

Between 1970 and 1987, union membership declined in only three other countries:

Austria, by 3%,
Japan, by 7%, and the
Netherlands, by 4%.
In the United States, union membership had declined by 14%.[3]

In 2004, 12.5% of U.S. wage and salary workers were union members. 36% of government workers were union members, but only 8% of workers in private-sector industries were.[4]

The most unionized sectors of the economy have had the greatest decline in union membership:

From 1953 to the late 1980s:

Construction from 84% to 22%
Manufacturing from 42% to 25%
Mining from 65% to 15%
Transportation from 80% to 37%[5]
From 1971 to the late 1980s, there was a 10% drop in union membership in the U.S. public sector and a 42% drop in union membership in the U.S. private sector.[6] For comparison, there was:

no drop in union membership in the private sector in Sweden,
2% in Canada,
3% in Norway,
6% in West Germany,
7% in Switzerland,
9% in Austria,
14% in the United Kingdom,
15% in Italy.[7]
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Oct, 2006 01:44 am
So, some board ruling that some employees are supervisors, means that George Bush is outlawing unions. Right.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Oct, 2006 05:51 am
Brandon9000 wrote:
So, some board ruling that some employees are supervisors, means that George Bush is outlawing unions. Right.

Nobody ever said anything about "outlawing unions", so thats a straw man.

But in the meantime, the government board's ruling does mean that the employees in question are no longer allowed to join a union.

And yes, the members of the board are largely Bush appointees.

So your problem with the actual phrasing of this thread - "US Govt: Doing what it can to forbid people to join a union" - is?
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Oct, 2006 06:00 am
nimh wrote:
Brandon9000 wrote:
So, some board ruling that some employees are supervisors, means that George Bush is outlawing unions. Right.

Nobody ever said anything about "outlawing unions", so thats a straw man.

But in the meantime, the government board's ruling does mean that the employees in question are no longer allowed to join a union.

And yes, the members of the board are largely Bush appointees.

So your problem with the actual phrasing of this thread - "US Govt: Doing what it can to forbid people to join a union" - is?


"Today's business executives don't hire goons--and, thanks to George W. Bush, they don't need to."

Actually, I understand that President Bush is responsible for Man's expulsion from the Garden of Eden too.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Oct, 2006 06:04 am
The votes of the board are decided by Bush appointees. Whats so illogical about holding Bush responsible for their decisions?

And what exactly is incorrect about the quote you bring? Employers generally dont want their employees to unionize - well, they dont have to hire goons to prevent them to, because the nrlb, thanks to Bush's appointees, will rule in their favour anyway; as this ruling, which clearly deviates from the original meaning of the law in order to please the employers, demonstrates.
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Oct, 2006 06:09 am
nimh wrote:
The votes of the board are decided by Bush appointees. Whats so illogical about holding Bush responsible for their decisions?

And what exactly is incorrect about the quote you bring? Employers generally dont want their employees to unionize - well, they dont have to hire goons to prevent them to, because the nrlb, thanks to Bush's appointees, will rule in their favour anyway; as this ruling, which clearly deviates from the original meaning of the law in order to please the employers, demonstrates.

I am curious how it feels to be psychic.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Oct, 2006 06:24 am
Brandon9000 wrote:
I am curious how it feels to be psychic.

Nothing to do with being psychic; question of looking at their rulings. A particularly blatant one of which has just been presented to you in this thread.
0 Replies
 
Madison32
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Oct, 2006 12:39 pm
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
UNION MEMBERSHIP IS DECLINING THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

Growth/Decline of unions compared
In the mid-1950s, 36% of the United States labor force was unionized. Even at America's union peak in the 1950s, union membership was lower in the United States than in almost all comparable countries. By 1989 that figure had dropped to about 16%, the lowest percentage of any developed democracy except France.

For comparison, here are some percentages for other developed democracies, published in 1990:

95% in Sweden and Denmark.
85% in Finland
Over 60% in Norway and Austria
Over 50% in Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Over 40% in West Germany and Italy.[1]
In 1987 United States unionization was 37 points below the average of seventeen countries surveyed, down from 17 points below average in 1970.[2]

Between 1970 and 1987, union membership declined in only three other countries:

Austria, by 3%,
Japan, by 7%, and the
Netherlands, by 4%.
In the United States, union membership had declined by 14%.[3]

In 2004, 12.5% of U.S. wage and salary workers were union members. 36% of government workers were union members, but only 8% of workers in private-sector industries were.[4]

The most unionized sectors of the economy have had the greatest decline in union membership:

From 1953 to the late 1980s:

Construction from 84% to 22%
Manufacturing from 42% to 25%
Mining from 65% to 15%
Transportation from 80% to 37%[5]
From 1971 to the late 1980s, there was a 10% drop in union membership in the U.S. public sector and a 42% drop in union membership in the U.S. private sector.[6] For comparison, there was:

no drop in union membership in the private sector in Sweden,
2% in Canada,
3% in Norway,
6% in West Germany,
7% in Switzerland,
9% in Austria,
14% in the United Kingdom,
15% in Italy.[7]
0 Replies
 
Madison32
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Oct, 2006 12:47 pm
Disadvantages of registration as a trade union



These may be summarised under the following heads:

Restrictive rules on membership
Restrictive rules on the receipt of foreign donations
Restrictive rules on membership
As already discussed (see chapter 3 above), the effect of section 61 of the Trade Union and Employers' Organizations Act is that a manager cannot be a member of the same union, or branch of a union, as the employees that he or she manages. The application of this rule will result in a loss of membership to public sector staff associations
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Oct, 2006 12:53 pm
Brandon9000 wrote:
nimh wrote:
The votes of the board are decided by Bush appointees. Whats so illogical about holding Bush responsible for their decisions?

And what exactly is incorrect about the quote you bring? Employers generally dont want their employees to unionize - well, they dont have to hire goons to prevent them to, because the nrlb, thanks to Bush's appointees, will rule in their favour anyway; as this ruling, which clearly deviates from the original meaning of the law in order to please the employers, demonstrates.

I am curious how it feels to be psychic.

I note that you do not answer the questions that Nimh posed.
0 Replies
 
Madison32
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Oct, 2006 01:02 pm
nimh wrote:
The votes of the board are decided by Bush appointees.

Nimh shouldn't waste his time trying to take care of a situation which is l. Not in his country and 2. Much much less disturbing than what is going on in his country.

Home>>World News
World NewsLEAKED RECORDING
Hungary PM admits lying day and night, opposition asks to resign
09/18/2006

Adding spice to the scandal, Gyurcsany's comments were full of crude remarks and called into doubt the abilities of some of Hungary's most respected economic experts.
A leaked recording that caught Hungary's prime minister admitting the government had lied about the economy - keeping it afloat through "tricks'' and relying on "divine providence'' - has prompted protests outside parliament and calls for his resignation.

The tape was made at a closed-door meeting in late May, weeks after Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany's government became the first in post-communist Hungary to win re-election.

It seemed to confirm the worst accusations levelled at him by the centre-right opposition during the campaign - that Hungary's state budget was on the verge of collapse and that Gyurcsany and his ministers were concealing the truth in an effort to secure victory.

Adding spice to the scandal, Gyurcsany's comments were full of crude remarks and called into doubt the abilities of some of Hungary's most respected economic experts.

"We screwed up. Not a little, a lot,'' Gyurcsany was heard saying. "No European country has done something as boneheaded as we have.''

"I almost died when for a year and a half we had to pretend we were governing. Instead, we lied morning, evening and night,'' he told his fellow Socialists.

Opposition demands resignation

The 45-year-old Gyurcsany, his party's golden boy since he was elected prime minister in late 2002, said the economy had been kept afloat only through "divine providence, the abundance of cash in the world economy and hundreds of tricks.''

Confronted with initial excerpts of the 25-minute recording which Hungarian state radio put up on its Web site Sunday afternoon, Gyurcsany not only acknowledged their authenticity but seemed relieved they had been made public - leading to speculation that the leak came from sources close to him.

Opposition parties demanded his resignation, while President Laszlo Solyom chastised the prime minister for "knowingly'' jeopardising people's faith in democracy and asked Gyurcsany to publicly recognise his error.

Hundreds of protesters were outside parliament, also calling for his dismissal.
*******************************************************
MAYBE GYURSCANY SHOULD TRY GETTING APPOINTEES TO SIFT OUT HIS LIES FIRST?
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Feb, 2007 07:42 pm
The new Democratic majority is trying to make it easier for people to join a union again; but Bush is ready to veto the move.

Quote:
INTIMIDATION EVERYWHERE:

Next week, the House will vote on the Employee Free Choice Act, which would allow employees in a workplace to organize as soon as a majority signed cards saying they wanted to do so. (Currently, workers have to go through NLRB-supervised elections that are prone to employer manipulation.)

Opponents of card-check argue that labor bosses will just coerce employees into signing the cards, although as Ezra Klein points out, research shows that union intimidation during card-check elections is far, far less common than undue management pressure under the current system.

Anyway, the bill would potentially help organized labor reverse its long decline, but the White House has already promised to veto it, so it doesn't stand much of a chance.

That didn't stop Phil Kerpen, though, from taking to the pages of the National Review to attack the legislation:

    Under existing law, before a union is recognized, an employer has the right to request a federally supervised secret ballot election. This allows both the union and the employer to make their case and lets workers decide on a union without fear of reprisal.
Th[is] bit is rather misleading [..]

Employers are very good at manipulating NLRB elections. During the campaign season, managers get to bring workers into captive audience meetings and tell them about all the horrible things that will happen if they unionize. They can make threats and bribes. They get to fire union organizers, and pay a small fine for their troubles. They can delay and delay the outcome until those employees who voted to unionize have long moved on to other jobs. And so on. [..]

You'd have to follow all the links to get a picture of just how restrained the right to organise and unionise has become in Bush's US - one of the under- or unreported outrages of his rule.

BTW I've snipped a bit out of the above item, because its mostly interesting on that meta-level that bloggers tend to focus on; it catches the National Review's Kerpen, presumably going on Heritage talking points, engaging in some rhetorical deception about a Democratic Congressman's supposed deception about the issue.
0 Replies
 
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Feb, 2007 08:33 pm
When political parties funds are donated mostly by Big Business, is it any wonder that Unions are losing their power?

As for the Labor movements around the world...they used to receive most of their funding via Unions, but any look at the amount of funding they receive versus the wealth of the unions will show they too are now receiving lots of funding from big business.

Anyone that cares to research the redistribution of wealth in english speaking western countries will see an amazing trend since the 1970's (in some places 1980's). Also, although poverty in western societies is subjective, it still exists...and if you care to research the growth in poverty since the 1970's you will find a corresponding increase in poverty. Neither of these two subjects make the news much.
0 Replies
 
kelticwizard
 
  1  
Reply Sat 24 Feb, 2007 01:13 am
The Republican Party has been anti-union from it's outset, seeing as it mostly represents businessmen, especially big businessmen.

Any member of a union, or even one who is employed in an industry where union wages keep wages fairly high, is cutting his own throat if he votes Republican. About the only exception would be a handful of Republicans from mostly urban areas who might depart from their party's normal stance on unions, (ie, kill them).
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Nov, 2007 03:08 pm
This article from TNR from 2005 should definitely also be in this thread.

Here's a paragraph from it that illustrates the overall point with a specific case:

"According to a study of 400 union election campaigns in manufacturing plants by Cornell sociologist Kate Bronfenbrenner, 51 percent of employers in 1998 and 1999 threatened to close a plant if a union won an election, and 25 percent fired at least one worker for union activity. Bush's nlrb [National Labor Relations Board] has balked at penalizing such companies - even though it is exactly these tactics that the [National Labor Relations Act] was created to outlaw.

In 2000, a judge determined that Smithfield Food used 36 different illegal tactics in trying to block unionization at its plant-- including firing eleven organizers--and ruled that the company would have to hold a union election, allow union organizers to post notices on workers' bulletin boards, and let them talk to workers in "nonwork" areas of the plant. On appeal, however, Bush's nlrb ruled that the union should be denied what it termed "extraordinary access" to the company's workers."

Here's the full article:

Quote:
Labor Pains
The New Republic
January 7, 2005

The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 was once considered the crown jewel of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. The National Labor Relations Board (nlrb), which it created, was supposed to ensure that workers enjoyed the same freedom of association in the workplace that they did in the political arena. By guaranteeing that workers could organize without being fired or threatened, it redressed the growing imbalance of power in the workplace.

By encouraging the growth of the labor movement, it stilled the fires of revolutionary socialism and Huey Long's populism and laid the foundation for a new democratic pluralism by giving workers a seat in Washington next to business.

For 45 years, the Act worked reasonably well. The ranks of labor swelled without threatening the profitability of U.S. business. The gap between rich and poor, which had widened in the 1920s, was reduced. The afl-cio, courted by Republican and Democratic administrations, became part of the Washington consensus. But, in the 1980s, that consensus began to fall apart when the Reagan administration drastically cut the nlrb's funding--causing huge backlogs of cases--and when its appointee to the board chipped away at employees' bargaining rights and at penalties for unfair labor practices. Bill Clinton tried to undo some of the damage, but George W. Bush has resumed Reagan's approach. Since becoming a majority in 2003, his appointees to the nlrb have taken business's side in more than 25 controversial cases. None of these rulings was earthshaking, but together, they presage an erosion of workers' ability to organize.

To cut costs, business and public institutions have increasingly replaced full-time employees with temporary or apprentice workers who are not paid comparable wages or benefits. Nonstandard workers like these now make up about a quarter of the workforce. Labor unions have begun to organize them, but employers have objected, and the Bush board has taken their side--ruling, for example, that a union at an Oakdale, New York, long-term care facility cannot organize and represent both workers employed directly by the facility and workers who are employed by the facility but were sent there by a temporary staffing agency. It also blocked organizing of disabled janitors (because they are really engaged in rehabilitation rather than work) and artists' models (who are seen as independent contractors because they own their robes).

According to a study of 400 union election campaigns in manufacturing plants by Cornell sociologist Kate Bronfenbrenner, 51 percent of employers in 1998 and 1999 threatened to close a plant if a union won an election, and 25 percent fired at least one worker for union activity. Bush's nlrb has balked at penalizing such companies--even though it is exactly these tactics that the Act was created to outlaw. In 2000, a judge determined that Smithfield Food used 36 different illegal tactics in trying to block unionization at its plant-- including firing eleven organizers--and ruled that the company would have to hold a union election, allow union organizers to post notices on workers' bulletin boards, and let them talk to workers in "nonwork" areas of the plant. On appeal, however, Bush's nlrb ruled that the union should be denied what it termed "extraordinary access" to the company's workers.

Union membership has plummeted from 23 percent in 1979 to 12.5 percent today. Some of that drop is due to a shift from unionized manufacturing industries to nonunionized whitecollar services, but most of the decline stems from the nlrb's acquiescence to aggressive--and often illegal-- employer tactics. American workers are, of course, the principal victims of labor's decline. (Union workers enjoy a 15.5 percent advantage in wages over nonunion workers with comparable skills and are 18.3 percent more likely to have health insurance.) But our democratic system as a whole is also a victim. Unions are an interest group, but one whose scope and concern allows it to speak for the public interest. And, because of its numbers and electoral influence, labor has been able to check the often narrow interests of Washington's powerful business lobbies. Without labor's clout, it's unlikely that Medicare would have been enacted in 1965 or that the minimum wage would have been raised repeatedly over the last 50 years.

With labor's power ebbing, business has increasingly been able to dominate public policy issues, from taxes to environmental protection to Social Security. That might not bother Bush, Tom DeLay, and Karl Rove. But it's not a good thing for the rest of us.
0 Replies
 
 

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