Category Archives: Organizing

Washington Post Supports Union Access During Organizing Campaigns

Source: David Doorey, Professor of Employment & Labour Law at York University in Toronto, Doorey’s Workplace Law Blog, May 12th, 2009

I have noted before what I see as the hypocrisy of those who advocate for mandatory certification ballots as the only ‘fair’ way to test employee wishes about whether they wish to move from the individual employment contract model to the collective bargaining model. They argue that the alternative model, of certifying unions when a majority of employees have signed a document claiming the wish the union to represent them, is ‘unfair’ because it does not ensure that the employees hear the ‘other side’ of the argument from the employer, and therefore may be mislead by the union and its supporters.

The hypocrisy lies in the fact that these supporters of a ‘fair election’ process usually also go ballistic whenever anyone suggests that the union’s organizers should be entitled to speak to the workers at the workplace. The sort of ‘fair’ election they want is one in which employers have unfettered access to the workers all day long to explain why unions are bad, and the simultaneous property right to prevent unions from even entering upon company property to explain the union’s side of the argument.

If we want an open and frank discussion about the pros and cons of collective bargaining-which seems like good policy to me-why doesn’t the state simply encourage that by ensuring that unions have equal access to the workers in non-working areas of the workplace (like lunchrooms, etc). That’s what the British laws require, where the state aims to ensure ‘equality of access’ to workers in the period preceding a unionization ballot.

What To Do About a Union Neutrality Agreement?

Source: John C. Gilliland, II, Esq., Home Health Care Management & Practice, Vol. 21 no. 4, 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
As union organizing of home health agencies increases, many agencies will be asked by a union to enter into a “neutrality agreement” with the union. Whether to agree to such an agreement is a very significant decision for an agency. It requires an agency to understand how such an agreement affects the unionization of its employees and the agency’s own goals with regard to unionization.

State Laws Allowing Majority Sign-up for Unions Show why Employee Free Choice Act is Fair Option for Workers

Source: Progressive States Network, Stateside Dispatch, May 7, 2009

It seems relatively simple. The proposed federal Employee Free Choice Act would give employees the freedom to form a union when a majority of workers sign cards saying that they want one, avoiding the often months of employer harassment that have inevitably accompanied traditional National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election processes.

State laws allowing majority sign-up for groups of public and private employees have been enacted in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin. Examples of these statutes include Oregon Revised Statutes, 243.682 for public employees and New York Chapter 31, Article 20, Section 705 covering both public employees and a number of private industries.

So you’ve got one system — NLRB elections with a demonstrated history of massive, overwhelming employer abuse — and another system — majority signup operating in many states with no evidence of any of the abuses alleged by opponents. If it works in the states, why not bring its benefits to more employees?

Playing With Cards: The Incompatibility of the Employee Free Choice Act and the National Labor Relations Board’s Current Doctrines and Practices Governing Union Authorization Cards

Source: Daniel V. Johns, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 60 no. 1, Spring 2009

This article addresses whether the National Labor Relation Board’s current doctrines and practices concerning union authorization cards make sense in a post-EFCA card recognition world. At present, the Board generally does not allow any employer challenges to a union’s showing of interest through authorization cards during representation hearings. Nor will the Board allow employers to examine authorization cards in order to look for evidence of fraud or other misconduct in the card-signing process. Moreover, the NLRB generally holds that any organizing campaign is timely, provided it is no more than one year old. Such rules perhaps make sense under the National Labor Relations Act’s current scheme for resolving union representation issues, wherein cards generally are used only to determine whether there is sufficient interest in unionization among the sought-after unit of employees before the NLRB orders a secret ballot election to determine in the employees will be represented.

A Study of Illinois’ Majority Interest Petition Provision 2003-2009

Source: Robert Bruno, School of Labor and Employment Relations, University of Illinois, 2009

In the spring of 2009 the School of Labor and Employment Relations (LER) at the University of Illinois conducted a study of the state’s nearly six-year old mandated majority authorization process for organizing employees in the public sector. The project was inspired by the national debate surrounding the proposed federal Employee Free Choice Act. Corporate allegations that the national law will allow employees to be coerced into signing “card’ or “petitions” motivated LER to conduct an objective assessment of how Illinois’ law is working. The results of the study unambiguously revealed that the majority sign-up provision was used extensively without hint of union or employer abuse.

New-Fashioned Unions: A Profile of Arise Chicago

Source: Erica Ellen Phillips, Is Greater Than, April 15, 2009

For the first time in more than 50 years organized labor is making a comeback, as Worker Center communities lend a voice to low-wage and immigrant workers.

When the United Electrical union workers at Chicago’s Republic Windows and Doors occupied their factory in the cold, early days of December last year, they were not alone. Hundreds of activists and community members turned out in solidarity, standing out front with picket signs and providing food for the workers inside. Many of these supporters were organized by a local group called Arise Chicago (formerly Chicago Interfaith Committee on Worker Issues), an example of a labor organizing model that is growing in cities across the country.

Apps for America Winners

Source: Sunlight Foundation, April 20, 2009
Enter your zip code and see your local Congress People along with their financial information, their contact information, their voting records, and a voting comparison chart of your senators. The app also displays the top ten presidential contributors for your zip code and the top ten recipients of government spending in your zip code.

allows users to view the independent expenditures made in a specific congressional race, in support of or opposition to an individual candidate, or commissioned by a particular PAC.

Call Congress

When’s the last time you talked to your Senator or Representative’s office? Is there an issue you care about that Congress isn’t addressing? Do you have a question about someone’s position on an issue? You need to Call Congress. When you use Call Congress to contact a Congressperson, a recording of the call is automatically posted online for everyone to hear. Don’t want the call to be recorded? You can still use the site to get contact info for your Senators and Representative.

Yeas & Nays
Yeas & Nays is a browser plug-in that transforms any webpage into a means for contacting Congressional representatives

Among the entries:
District-by-District Organizing Tool
A social networking framework for citizen organizing by congressional district.

The Petition Archives

The Petitions Archives allows people to publish and preserve the personal email petitions they send public figures.

FlashGraffer presents a graphical view of campaign contributions by industries to members of 36 House and Senate committees (110th Congress). Several interactive features let the user select different committees and highlight contributions patterns.

Where the Money Goes
Where the Money Goes makes it easier to visualize the contributions that political action committees (PACs) make to each other, and to your members of Congress.

U.S. Anti-Union Consultants: A Threat to the Rights of British Workers

Source: John Logan, Trades Union Congress, 2008

Over the past three decades, U.S. employers have conducted what Business Week has called “one of the most successful anti-union wars ever” with spectacular results – private sector union membership now stands at just 7.5 percent, and there are now between 50 million and 60 million Americans who say that they want union representation but are unable to get it. But employers have not conducted this offensive alone — so-called “union avoidance consultants” have been at the epicentre of the sustained assault of unions and collective bargaining. They have conducted thousands of no-holds-barred counter-organizing campaigns – which have frequently been marred by allegations of unfair management practices – and have encouraged American employers to view attempts by their employees to organize as a “declaration of war” or an “attack on your company.” The overwhelmingly majority of US employers recruit outside consultants when confronted by a union organizing campaigns. Many firms have internalized the extreme anti-union attitudes of the consultants and adopted as their own the consultants’ tactics and strategies, while large anti-union firms have developed sophisticated in-house union avoidance programs. Anti-union consultants are the perfect poster children for a system that encourages American employers to treat with disdain their employees’ right to form unions and bargain collectively, and they are now seeking to export their attitudes and activities to several other countries, including the United Kingdom.

This report provides an overview of the impact of union avoidance consultants in the US and discusses their recent activities in the UK. The first section of this report summarizes the development of the union avoidance industry in the US in the past few decades, describes the activities of consultants during counter organizing campaigns, provides brief details of two anti-union campaigns, and discusses the negative impact that consultants have had on the character of labor management relations in the United States. The second section discusses the extent of anti-union activity in the UK and describes some recent UK organizing campaigns orchestrated by US consultants. It concludes with an analysis of why of how to stop this unwanted US import from flourishing in the UK. While recent consultant activity in the UK pales in comparison with the scale and intensity of consultant activity in the US, it nonetheless represents a development that should concern anyone who believes in workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively.

The Employee Free Choice Act

Source: Political Economy Research Institute, April 2009

High unemployment rates, rising wage inequality and declining living standards for working families all result, in part, from dramatic losses in bargaining power for workers over recent decades. The Employee Free Choice Act, which will protect and expand workers’ rights to form unions and bargain collectively, is a potentially powerful tool to reverse this trend, and faces likely legislative action in the coming months. With this in mind, PERI has added an EFCA resources page to our website, where we will post research, media coverage, and other useful information.

The PERI Employee Free Choice Act Resource page also hosts a statement of support for the act by economists and other social scientists. Hundreds of scholars have already signed on to show their support for this critical legislative item.