Category Archives: Labor Unions

I Knew I Could Do This Work: Seven Strategies That Promote Women’s Activism and Leadership in Unions

Source: Amy Caiazza, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2007

This report is designed to remedy women’s lower levels of representation in leadership by promoting women’s activism within unions across the country at the local, state, regional, and national levels. Women’s increased activism can lead to higher levels of leadership as they gain the skills, confidence, and networks to embrace positions of authority and break down obstacles to their advancement in union work.

Getting Organized: Unionizing Home-Based Child Care Providers

Source: Deborah Chalfie, Helen Blank, and Joan Entmacher, National Women’s Law Center, February 2007

This report by the National Women’s Law Center shows how communities benefit when workers join unions. The report highlights three states where home-based child care providers have joined unions and signed a contract. The workers, in turn, used their political power to help their communities receive increased funding for child care and improved working conditions for providers.

Making it Work Better: A Work Family Curriculum

Source: Labor Project for Working Families, November 2008
(registration required)

This work family curriculum provides union instructors, facilitators and discussion leaders with ideas on how to:

* Educate union members and leaders on work family issues;
* Advance these issues on the job; and,
* Advocate for work family issues in the workplace, on the legislative front and in the community

The 3½ hour curriculum contains short modules that can be incorporated into existing union trainings or used in its entirety to train bargaining committees, stewards or rank and file members.

Making it Work Better is designed as a step-by-step guide and contains everything needed including group exercises, a power point presentation, background material and handouts. It can be customized by industry, union, size of the group or leadership level of the participants.

Union Membership and Political Inclusion

Source: Roland Zullo, Industrial and Labor Relations, Vol. 62, No. 1, October 2008
(subscription required)

Using county-level data, the author evaluates how labor affected the general population’s political behavior during the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Voter turnout increased with unionization, but at declining rates with higher levels of unionization. The unionization/voter turnout link was stronger in counties with lower median incomes, higher income inequality, and lower levels of education, suggesting that unions partially closed the political participation gap between low- and high-SES (socioeconomic status) populations. State right-to-work laws, and the absence of collective bargaining rights for public employees, reduced labor’s ability to increase voter turnout. The union effect on candidate preference had a positive, curvilinear association with union membership, but this effect was stronger in high-SES regions than in low-SES regions. Overall, these results imply a paradox for organized labor: unions can effectively increase working-class voter turnout, but they have difficulty persuading the working class to vote for pro-labor political candidates.

The Eyes of the Needles: A Sequential Model of Union Organizing Drives, 1999-2004

Source: John-Paul Ferguson, Industrial & Labor Relations Review, Vol. 62, No. 1, October 2008
(subscription required)

This paper models three stages of the union organizing drive, using a new dataset covering more than 22,000 drives that took place between 1999 and 2004. The correlated sequential model tracks drives through all of their potential stages: holding an election, winning an election, and reaching first contracts. Only one-seventh of organizing drives that filed an election petition with the NLRB managed to reach a first contract within a year of certification. The model, which controls for the endogeneity of unfair labor practice (ULP) charges, finds that a ULP charge was associated with a 30% smaller cumulative chance of reaching such a contract. ULP charges had less effect on the votes cast than on the decision to hold an election and the ability to reach a first contract. A sequential model such as this one could be extended to test between some competing theories about the determinants of union organizing.

Organizing at the Margins: Women Shape the Labor Movement

Source: WorkingUSA, Vol. 11 no. 4, December 2008
(subscription required)

This issue contains the following articles:
Eileen Boris, Premilla Nadasen

Jessica M. Smith

Michelle Kaminski, Elaine K. Yakura

Jessica Wilkerson

Pamela Stewart

Privatizing Labor Law: Neutrality/Card Check Agreements and the Role of the Arbitrator

Source: Laura Cooper, Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 83, 2008

[N]eutrality/card check agreements are usually administered by private arbitrators empowered to interpret and apply them. In the last six to eight years, the American labor movement has significantly bypassed the legal structure Congress created for employees to express their desires regarding union representation and instead privatized labor law. In entering into neutrality/card check agreements, unions have focused on their goal of increasing union representation. However, such privatization has the secondary consequence of placing in the hands of private individuals serving as arbitrators some powers that had previously been the exclusive province of the NLRB, and other powers that even the NLRB never possessed. While scholarly, political, and administrative attention has understandably been focused on the broad public policy implications of neutrality/card check agreements, scant attention has been directed to what neutrality agreements require of arbitrators and whether these expectations are consistent with the institutional capacity *1590 and role of arbitrators. Do arbitrators actually have the legal authority and administrative capacity to assume this role? Can neutrality/card check agreements achieve their intended objectives if arbitrators cannot perform that role? What role can and should arbitrators play when unions join with employers in agreeing to privatize labor law?

Union Access to Workers During Union Organizing Campaigns: A New Look through the Lens of Health Services

Source: David J. Doorey, York University, October 16, 2008

From the abstract:
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the recent Health Services decision that the Canadian Constitutional protection of “freedom of association” should be interpreted to provide at least as much protection of associational rights as provided by international conventions that Canada has ratified (the “Equivalency Requirement”). However, the Court then made the Equivalency Requirement conditional upon a second requirement when it ruled that only government interference that amounts to a “substantial impairment” of freedom of association is protected (the “Substantial Impairment Requirement”). Therefore, Canadian laws that provide less protection for freedom of association than ratified international conventions will be Constitutionally valid provided they do not “substantially interfere” with freedom of association. This paper explores this peculiar result using the issue of union access to employer property for the purpose of organizing. In doing so, the article compares the approaches to union access to employer property under Canadian, American, and British law, as well as the approach of the ILO’s supervisory bodies interpreting ILO Convention 87, which Canada has ratified.

Stacking the Deck: Privileging ‘Employer Free Choice’ over Industrial Democracy in the Card Check Debate

Source: Raja Raghunath, University Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-10, Nebraska Law Review, Vol. 87, 2008

From the abstract:
“Card check” organizing is the most controversial issue in labor law today, and this article is the first to analyze Dana Corp., the landmark decision on card check that was issued by the National Labor Relations Board in September 2007. The Dana Corp. decision represents a fundamental shift in American labor relations, away from safeguarding the rights of employees to collectively bargain, and towards safeguarding employer choice as to whether to engage in collective bargaining at all. The purpose of this article is to call attention to this shift, and to refocus the card-check debate on the fundamental principle of asymmetrical employer power in the workplace. The importance of this principle in understanding the arguments surrounding card check is heightened by the shift in labor relations signaled by the Dana Corp. decision, as well as two significant recent developments in the California and Illinois public sector that also have gone unanalyzed.