Category Archives: Organizing

The Wagner Model of Labor Law is Dead, Long Live Labor Law!

Source: Paul M. Secunda, Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 12-15, September 13, 2012

From the abstract:
The Wagner Model of labor law no longer fulfills the promise of protecting and promoting employees’ collective voice in the American workplace. Legislative and administrative developments in the Wagner Model have made employees subject to intense intimidation and interference by employers with regard to their right to freely choose whether to belong to a union; employers can too easily engage in unlawful conduct as the cost of doing business and practice surface bargaining routinely without ever intending to agree to a contract with the union; and unions are helpless in counteracting these employer organizational and collective bargaining tactics because the ability to engage in strikes is largely illusory in the face of the employer’s right to lawfully and permanently replace their striking workers.

In response to this growing void in workplace representation, others have attempted to “fix” the Wagner Model from within by seeking to pass reforms such as the Employee Free Choice Act. Still others have shifted away from Wagner-style, command-and-control regulation and have urged a new governance approach which seeks to give employers incentives to justly treat their employees. This paper believes EFCA’s enactment is highly unlikely in the short-term and in any event, unlikely to change the current power dynamics hindering effective workplace voice for employees. It also finds the traditional new governance approach to be largely ineffective in securing anything but cosmetic employer compliance with new regulatory schemes and to not provide a secure mechanism for protecting and promoting meaningful employee voice.

Although the ideal solution might be to harness the remaining energies of the labor movement to an Occupy Wall Street-type style movement and to use those energies and passions to forge a new labor-oriented political party in the United States, past history has given proponents little reason to believe that such political reform will happen in the short-term in the two-party, money-soaked political environment of the United States. Instead, this paper has forwarded three promising alternative approaches to labor law reform outside of the Wagner Model. Through use of some combination of pre-recognition framework agreements, the coworker.org open-source internet platform, and Ghent System-like approaches, the hope is that American labor law will start again to provide workers with the institutional voice they need to promote fair and just workplaces.

The Employee Free Choice Act

Source: Jon O. Shimabukuro, Congressional Research Service, RS21887, January 12, 2011

From the summary:
This report discusses legislative attempts to amend the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) to allow for union certification without an election, based on signed employee authorizations. The Employee Free Choice Act (“EFCA”), introduced in the 111th Congress as H.R. 1409 and S. 560, would have allowed union certification based on signed authorizations, provided a process for the bargaining of an initial agreement, and prescribed new penalties for certain unfair labor practices. This report reviews the current process for selecting a bargaining representative under the NLRA, and discusses the role of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in resolving bargaining disputes under that act. The EFCA has been introduced in the past four Congresses. During the 110th Congress, the measure was passed by a vote of 241-185 in the House. In the Senate, proponents of the EFCA fell nine votes short of the 60 votes needed to limit debate and proceed to final consideration of the measure. The EFCA is widely expected to be reintroduced in the 112th Congress.

Internet Union Organizing Brings On-The-Ground Victory

Source: John Wojcki, People’s World, Published Thursday, January 13, 2011 7:00 pm

Laptops might forever replace leaflets as the way people get the word out when they want to form Unions at their workplaces.

A Union Organizing Campaign at a can plant north of New York City finally succeeded this year after workers at the Anheuser-Busch InBev Metal Container Corporation in Newburgh had failed twice, in recent years, to form a Union.

The workers at the plant attribute their victory to a totally new form of Union Organizing.

It involved no leaflets, no T-shirts, no secret meetings in people’s homes, no bosses singling out the individuals responsible for the organizing drive, no fear of talking among themselves on the shop floor and a company management unable to harass or fire a single worker.

The Employee Free Choice Act

Source: Jon O. Shimabukuro, Congressional Research Service, RS21887, January 12, 2011

This report discusses legislative attempts to amend the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) to allow for union certification without an election, based on signed employee authorizations. The Employee Free Choice Act (“EFCA”), introduced in the 111th Congress as H.R. 1409 and S. 560, would have allowed union certification based on signed authorizations, provided a process for the bargaining of an initial agreement, and prescribed new penalties for certain unfair labor practices. This report reviews the current process for selecting a bargaining representative under the NLRA, and discusses the role of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in resolving bargaining disputes under that act. The EFCA has been introduced in the past four Congresses. During the 110th Congress, the measure was passed by a vote of 241-185 in the House. In the Senate, proponents of the EFCA fell nine votes short of the 60 votes needed to limit debate and proceed to final consideration of the measure. The EFCA is widely expected to be reintroduced in the 112th Congress.
Previous versions:
January 26, 2009
July 20, 2007

“Taking on Corporate Bullies”: Cintas, Laundry Workers, and Organizing in the 1930s and Twenty-First Century

Source: Jenny Carson, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 35 no. 4, December 2010
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Based on interviews with workers and organizers, union and company records, legal documents, and media sources, this article compares laundry unionism in the 1930s and early 2000s at Cintas, North America’s largest industrial launderer and uniform rental provider. Employing resource mobilization theory, social movement unionism, and collective identity theory, the article argues that laundry workers were able to organize in the 1930s because of the simultaneous presence of union resources and internal activist solidarities at the shop floor level. While UNITE HERE (now Workers United) has run an innovative comprehensive campaign to organize Cintas, the absence of solidarity on the shop floor has impeded organization.

Unity for Dignity: Expanding the Right to Organize to Win Human Rights at Work

Source: Rebecca Smith, Harmony Goldberg, Excluded Workers’ Congress, December 2010

In June 2010, against the backdrop of the global recession, nine sectors of excluded workers came together to found the Excluded Workers Congress. They converged around a common dream: to vastly expand the human right to organize in the United States, to win a new era of rights and policies for workers, and to transform the labor movement in this country. The Excluded Workers Congress was formed to bring “the human right to organize” to life.

The nine sectors of the Excluded Workers Congress include domestic workers, farm workers, taxi drivers, restaurant workers, day laborers, guestworkers, workers from Southern right-to-work states, workfare workers and formerly incarcerated workers.

Resources for Evaluating Community Organizing

Source: Alliance for Justice, 2010

As Alliance for Justice has developed tools and strategies for evaluating advocacy work, we have often been asked for more specific information about evaluating community organizing. We have found that the range of organizing styles, approaches, and philosophies in use can make it challenging to formulate a consistent mechanism for evaluating the organizing process and its outcomes. This lack of consistent evaluation often contributes to a misunderstanding or devaluing of organizing work by funders, policy makers, and community-based organizations.

The Future of NLRB Doctrine on Captive Audience Speeches

Source: Paul M. Secunda, Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 10-37, 2010

From the abstract:
Under the National Labor Relations Act, as interpreted by the courts and the National Labor Relations Board (Board) over the last sixty years, employers have been permitted to give captive audience speeches at work to employees contemplating unionization. Employees must attend such meetings, cannot question the employer representative, and may not have the union come to the workplace to present opposing views. Not surprisingly, these speeches are one of the most effective anti-union weapons that employers currently have in their arsenal. Now that the Board has both a quorum and a sizable Democratic majority, this Essay considers if, and how, the Obama Board might limit the rights of employers to engage in captive audience speeches during union organizational campaigns.