Category Archives: Labor Unions

Financial reporting and disclosure requirements for trade unions: a comparison of UK and US public policy

Source: John Lund, Industrial Relations Journal, Vol. 40 no. 2, published online February 20, 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The underlying policy objectives and the degree to which they are served by current trade union financial reporting and disclosure regimes in the US and the UK are examined in this article, along with a detailed comparison of the government oversight agencies, annual disclosure forms and member access to union financial records.

A Contract Campaign Across Unions

Source: Doug Swanson, Labor Notes, February 20, 2009

As Wisconsin faces a nearly $6 billion budget deficit, state employee unions are determined to make sure the crisis isn’t “solved” on our backs. All union contracts with the state will expire June 30. As we strategize, we’re remembering our successful campaign–“A Deal’s a Deal”–from 2003.

“The Unions Rejoice Act”: An Examination of the Intent and Potential Impact of EFCA

Source: John Matchulat, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 34 no. 4, Spring 2009

This article examines how the Employee Free Choice Act would, in the author’s view, discard, undermine, and nullify bedrock principles of a democratic society such as the secret ballot election of representatives; the right to privacy; the rights of parties to freely and voluntarily contract with one another; open exchange of information and ideas on controversial issues; and the nation’s inherent resistance to unwarranted governmental intervention.

The Employee Free Choice Act: No Choice for Employer or Employee

Source: Douglas P. Seaton and Emily L. Ruhsam, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 34 no. 4, Spring 2009

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) was one of the most highly publicized issues during the 2008 presidential election. Despite its name, the EFCA would eliminate the secret ballot election and force arbitrator-created union contracts on employers after 120 days of failed bargaining. Employers are well advised to keep a pulse on EFCA as it is one of the most radical changes ever proposed to the National Labor relations Act and passage would have significant effects on unionization levels in the private sector.

Interactive Map: Unions Are Good for Workers and the Economy in Every State

Source: Center for American Progress, February 15, 2009

Unions paved the way to the middle class for millions of workers and pioneered benefits along the way, including paid health care and pensions. Even today, union workers earn significantly more on average than their non-union counterparts, are nearly 54 percent more likely to have employer-provided pensions, and are 28 percent more likely to be covered by employer-provided heath insurance. Nearly three out of five survey respondents from a Peter Hart Research Associates poll report that they would join a union if they could. Yet workers attempting to unionize currently face a hostile legal environment and are commonly intimidated by aggressive antiunion employers.
See also:
State and national fact sheets

Trade Unions, Wage Bargaining Coordination, and Foreign Direct Investment

Source: Roxana Radulescu, Martin Robson, Labour, Vol. 22, Issue 4, December 2008
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From the abstract:
Conventional wisdom is that a high trade union bargaining strength and a system of coordinated wage bargaining reduce the attractiveness of an economy as a location for foreign direct investment, although there is limited evidence for this. The paper takes panel data for 19 OECD economies to examine the relationship between trade union bargaining strength, bargaining coordi nation, and a range of incentives for inward foreign direct investment. It finds a strong negative effect of trade union density on inward foreign direct investment, which is dependent on the degree of wage bargaining coordination. A high degree of coordination weakens the deterrent effect of high union density, which is consistent with the notion that under certain circumstances a coordinated increase in wages can increase profits of the multinationals by hurting domestic firms.
See also:
October 2006 version

Squandering the blue-collar advantage

Source: Josh Bivens, Economic Policy Institute, EPI Breifing Paper #229, February 13, 2009

Why almost everything except unions and the blue-collar workforce are hurting U.S. manufacturing.

It has become convenient in some circles to blame unions for the hemorrhaging of jobs in the manufacturing sector. The facts, however, simply do not support that argument.

Instead, the main culprit for manufacturing’s troubles over the past decade is an overvalued U.S. dollar. Smaller contributors to manufacturing’s decline include a dysfunctional health care system and the high labor costs of managers and executives.

What is equally clear is that the pay and productivity of blue-collar workers in manufacturing are clearly not a competitive drag. In fact, these workers actually earn lower wages than many of the most important U.S. trading partners while simultaneously posting higher productivity levels. In short, the relatively low pay and high productivity of the blue-collar workforce in the U.S. manufacturing sector provides an important competitive edge over its trading partners. This report documents that competitive edge and how it has been squandered.

Can Labor Revive the American Dream?

Source: Esther Kaplan, Nation, Vol. 288 no. 3, January 26, 2009

The financial markets are in tatters, consumer spending is anemic and the recession continues to deepen, but corporate America is keeping its eyes on the prize: crushing organized labor. The Center for Union Facts, a business front group, has taken out full-page ads in newspapers linking SEIU president Andy Stern to the Rod Blagojevich scandal. The Chamber of Commerce is capitalizing on the debate over the Big Three bailout to claim that “unions drove the auto companies off the cliff,” while minority leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican senators insist on steep wage cuts. A December 10 Republican strategy memo revealed their central obsession: “Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor,” the memo read. “This is a precursor to card check”–a clear reference to the Employee Free Choice Act.

This simple amendment to federal labor law, which would, among other things, allow workers to unionize when a majority sign cards rather than requiring a bruising election, has galvanized the business community in a way even the $700 billion bailout couldn’t. “I get the sense that this is more important to them than even taxes or regulation,” says the AFL-CIO’s director of government affairs, Bill Samuels. “This is about power. And the business community is not going to give up power willingly.” Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott said as much to a meeting with analysts in October. “We like driving the car,” he told them, “and we’re not going to give the steering wheel to anybody but us.”

At first glance, Employee Free Choice looks like little more than a technical fix. In addition to allowing unionizing through majority sign-up, it stiffens penalties for intimidating or firing union supporters and imposes arbitration when a company refuses to bargain a first contract. But as the leading corporate lobbies recognize, the bill could have far-reaching effects. By reviving unions, it could push up wages, realigning the broken economy so that company profits are spread beyond CEOs. It could help rein in corporate power and, perhaps most threatening to a business community that has enjoyed decades of deregulation, sustain a progressive majority in Washington in the years to come. If progressives aren’t doing the math, conservatives are. “Unions don’t spend money to elect Republicans,” Senator John Ensign told a group of executives this past fall. “They spend money to elect Democrats. From our perspective, this would have devastating consequences.”

Putting a Big Chill on a “Big Hurt:” Genuine Interest in Employment of Salts in Assessing Protection Under the National Labor Relations Act

Source: Jeffrey A. Mello, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, Published online: 25 July 2008


(subscription required)

From the abstract:


As union membership has continued to decline steadily in the US, union organizers have become more creative and vigilant with their organizing strategies. Chief among these strategies has been “salting,” a process by which unions attempt to organize employees from the inside rather than the outside. The Supreme Court has ruled that, under the National Labor Relations Act, “salts” cannot be discriminated against solely on the basis of their status as salts. This paper examines employer responses to resist salting efforts, including a recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board, which redefines the landscape under which salting activities can be conducted and considered protected activity.