Category Archives: Labor Unions

Election Flyers That Win Votes

Source: Alfred T. DeMaria, Management Report for Nonunion Organizations, Volume 41 Issue 10, October 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
While unions use digital communications, including email, social media, websites, and apps, the humble printed‐paper flyer remains a staple of many organizing campaigns. There are several reasons. Organizers typically do not have the email addresses of all employees they need to reach digitally. Even when the union can send email, it may be read quickly or not read at all and deleted. In contrast, a flyer can be read several times over, passed along to others, and referred to during the course of the campaign.

Labor Law Illiteracy: Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis and Janus v. AFSCME

Source: Michael J. Yelnosky, Roger Williams University, Legal Studies Paper No. 184, September 4, 2018

From the abstract:
Labor law, both as an academic discipline and a subject of public consciousness, is in decline. The Supreme Court’s recent decisions in Epic Systems v. Lewis and Janus v. AFSCME reflect a notable consequence of this decline – what I am calling labor law illiteracy. The majority in Epic Systems seems to misunderstand one of the basic principles of the National Labor Relations Act, and the majority in Janus based its decision, in part, on a simplistic and one-sided view of the justifications for public sector labor law and collective bargaining.

Life After Janus

Source: Aaron Tang, Columbia Law Review, Forthcoming, Last revised: 18 Aug 2018

From the abstract:
The axe has finally fallen. In Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, the Supreme Court struck down the major source of financial security enjoyed by public sector unions representing nearly half of the nation’s fifteen million union members. Countless press stories, law review articles, and amicus briefs have criticized and defended this outcome. This Article has a different aim. Rather than re-litigating Janus, the question I ask is instead forward-looking: What’s next? Is there life for public sector unions after Janus? And if so, what might it look like? In engaging these questions, this Article has three goals. First, I want to push back on the narrative that public unions have no choice now but to struggle on within a national right-to-work environment. That is certainly one possibility, but pro-labor states have available a range of legislative responses that may soften Janus’s blow or even negate it altogether. One response is for pro-labor states to authorize public employers to reimburse unions for their bargaining-related costs directly. The standard objection is that direct government funding will undercut unions’ ability to advocate independently for workers. My second goal is to confront this objection head-on, with an argument that draws on an unlikely source: an analogy between public unions and public defenders. As it turns out, America’s woeful experience with indigent criminal defense teaches some powerful lessons about how not to fund entities whose entire purpose is to contest the government’s narrow self-interest. But it also suggests funding approaches that would raise no independence concerns at all. That leads to my final and most significant objective: to propose model legislation for state lawmakers to implement direct reimbursement of unions. The proposal is revenue neutral for public employers and unions, and it is revenue enhancing for workers in light of nuances in the federal income tax. Readers interested in the nuts and bolts of the proposed legislation may wish to skip the first three parts of this Article (which make the case for why reimbursement is desirable) and start at Part IV on page 43. For convenience, a model bill is included in the appendix.

Bread and Butter or Bread and Roses? Experimental Evidence on Why Public Sector Employees Support Unions

Source: Alexander Hertel-Fernandez – Columbia University – School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA), Ethan Porter – George Washington University, Date Written: July 16, 2018

From the abstract:
Despite their decline, unions, and especially public unions, remain important associations. Yet we do not have a good understanding of why workers voluntarily support and join unions. We report on a field experiment conducted during a 2017 Iowa teachers union recertification election. We randomly assigned union members voting in the election to receive emails describing union benefits and measured effects on turnout effort (N=10,461). Union members were more likely to try to vote when reminded of the professional benefits — but not legal protections or political representation — their union offered. A follow-up survey identified the specific benefits that members most valued and why. In a context where union membership and support is voluntary, our findings emphasize the importance of selective professional benefits. Our results have broader implications for understanding the American labor movement and civic participation. They suggest that public-sector unions may face a tension between political activities and offering excludable workplace benefits.

Compelled Subsidies and the First Amendment

Source: William Baude, Eugene Volokh, Harvard Law Review (2018 Forthcoming), Date Written: July 29, 2018

From the abstract:
Sometimes the government compels people to pay money to organizations they oppose. A lawyer may be forced to fund a bar association, a college student to fund student group activities, a public employee forced to fund a labor union. Unsurprisingly, people may bristle at such compulsion. Nobody likes having their money taken, and knowing that it will be spent on causes one opposes seems to add insult to injury. But when is it unconstitutional? For forty years, the Court has unanimously concluded that being required to pay money to a union, or to a state bar, is a serious burden on one’s First Amendment rights. This burden, the Court has held, is generally unconstitutional when the money is used for most kinds of political advocacy. In Janus v. AFSCME, a majority of the Court went further, and held that requiring public employees to pay union agency fees is categorically unconstitutional, even when the money is used for collective bargaining. Such public-sector collective bargaining, the majority held, is itself inherently political. And the government interests in mandating such payments don’t suffice to justify such requirements. There was a strong dissent by four Justices, but as we discuss in Part I, we think the majority had the better argument on both of these two points. But we think the majority — and for that matter the dissent, and the unanimous opinions in Abood v. Bd. of Ed. and Keller v. State Bar — erred on the preliminary point. The better view, we think, is that requiring people only to pay money, whether to private organizations or to the government, is not a First Amendment problem at all. The employees in Janus were not compelled to speak, or to associate. They were compelled to pay, just as we all are compelled to pay taxes; our having to pay taxes doesn’t violate our First Amendment rights, even when the taxes are used for speech we disapprove of — likewise with having to pay agency fees. If we are right, as we argue in Part II, then the result in Janus was wrong. In Part III, we turn from evaluating the decision to anticipating its consequences. We doubt Janus will have significant effects on government speech rights (Part III.A), but it will likely bar the funding of other forms of private speech. Janus will likely extend to a prohibition on state bar dues, at least so long as the bar is seen as sufficiently removed from other government agencies (Part III.B). It might also include constraints on public university student governments’ use of student activity fees, though universities can create accounting workarounds that will practically allow such student activity funding to continue (Part III.C). Finally, and perhaps most consequentially, Janus may lead to massive liability for unions that have collected the agency fees that are now viewed as unconstitutional. (Part III.D). Though the fees were seen as valid when collected, the Supreme Court’s precedents say that constitutional reversals in civil cases are generally retroactive, so everyone in Janus’s shoes can get agency fee refunds just as Janus himself could (at least so long as the statute of limitations has not lapsed). Moreover, private organizations such as unions are generally not entitled to qualified immunity or similar defenses. While the unions do have some possible arguments to mitigate the damages or try to claim a special form of good faith, those defenses are speculative, and cannot be counted on.

Labor Unions and Unequal Representation

Source: Daniel Stegmueller – Duke University – Department of Political Science, Michael Becher- Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, Konstantin Käppner – University of Konstanz, Date Written: July 23, 2018

From the abstract:
Recent research has documented that lawmakers are more responsive to the views of the affluent than to the less well-off. This raises the important question of whether there are institutions that can limit unequal representation. We argue that labor unions play this role and we provide evidence from the contemporary U.S. House of Representatives. Our extensive dataset combines a novel measure of district-level union strength, drawn from 350,000 administrative records, with income-specific measures of constituency preferences based on 223,000 survey respondents matched to 27 roll-call votes. Exploiting within-district variation in preference polarization, within-state variation in union strength and rich data on confounds, our analysis rules out a host of alternative explanations. In contrast to the view that unions have become too weak or fragmented to matter, they significantly dampen unequal responsiveness: a standard deviation increase in union membership increases legislative responsiveness towards the poor by about 9 percentage points.

The Spread of Anti-Union Business Coordination: Evidence from the Open-Shop Movement in the U.S. Interwar Period

Source: Alexander Kuo, Studies in American Political Development, Volume 32 Issue 1, April 2018
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From the abstract:
What explains the development of repressive employer coordination? Classic historical American business and labor literature focuses on institutions of labor repression and employer associations, but little systematic examination of such associations exists, particularly during the interwar period. Similarly, recent political science literature on the origins of industrial institutions underemphasizes the importance of repressive employer associations. I use new quantitative subnational evidence from the U.S. interwar period, with data from the open-shop movement in the United States at the local level after World War I. I test a variety of families of hypotheses regarding variation in repressive employer coordination, with specific data measuring the threat posed by organized labor. I find that such threats posed by unions are correlated to repressive employer associations. The results have implications for understanding local-level variation in the business repression of labor movements in the early twentieth century and contribute to our understanding of labor repressive institutions and the incentives of firms to collectively act.

Are there health benefits of being unionized in late career? A longitudinal approach using HRS

Source: Jacques Wels, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, First published: 28 June 2018

From the abstract:
Objective:
To assess whether unionization prevents deterioration in self‐reported health and depressive symptoms in late career transitions.

Methods:
Data come from the Health and Retirement Study (N = 6475). The change in self‐perceived health (SPH) and depressive symptoms (CESD) between wave 11 and wave 12 is explained using an interaction effect between change in professional status from wave 10 to wave 11 and unionization in wave 10.

Results:
The odds of being affected by a negative change in CESD when unionized are lower for unionized workers remaining in full‐time job (OR:0.73, CI95%:0.58;0.89), unionized full‐time workers moving to part‐time work (OR:0.66, CI95%:0.46;0.93) and unionized full‐time workers moving to part‐retirement (OR:0.40, CI95%:0.34;0.47) compared to non‐unionized workers. The same conclusion is made for the change in SPH but with odds ratios closer to 1.

Conclusion:
The reasons for the associations found in this paper need to be explored in further research.