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Ken Shirk
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RL: "The law means nothing if there are not meaningful disincentive to breaking it. This bill would create such disincentives. Do Rick and/or the C of C have a better idea?" RB: The philosophical question is, of course, whether the law compelling business to do anything should exist at all, i.e. how useful is that kind of government intrusion into the marketplace? It's a rhetorical question -- I don't expect an answer here. Rick brings up the most excellent and elegant point. The counter-question, then, is whether a law that reduces workers' rights should exist at all, either. If you want a level playing field without the intrusion of the government, then let us have no laws governing labor relations. But wait - we already tried that. A century ago, construction workers and miners engaged strikes, and employers responded by hiring Pinkerton and other private security forces to tamp them down. In extreme cases, working people were massacred by these private forces. Subsequent legislation to make unions unlawful did nothing to reduce the violence. Legislation making it a federal crime to engage in violence during union campaigns resulted in workers going to jail, or worse, but no employers going to jail, or worse. 1935 brought us the Wagner Act - the original National Labor Relations Act. Congress' declaration in adopting the Wagner Act stated that the Interest of the Country was served by the unimpeded flow of interstate commerce. The there-to-fore violence and wildcat strikes were severely impeding the flow of commerce, and that a remedy was indicated. The remedy, Congress concluded, was to formally legalize unions and workers' ability to unionize. The Wagner Act said, very simply, that employees had the right to support, form or join a union for the purpose of securing a collectively bargained agreement. These are called "Section 7" rights. This simple solution effectively brought an end to the widespread workplace violence and saw an increase in the flow of interstate commerce. It also saw a significant increase in unions' influence in society. It counter-balanced the innate power of the employer to command an employee's time and withhold wages if it were dissatisfied with the employee with a collective right of the employees (i.e., unions) to withhold labor if they were dissatisfied with the employer's treatment. But, wait! That was no good - all this level playing field hoohah. Employers must always be on top. So twelve years later, Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act, which added to Section 7 of the Wagner Act by stating that employees also had the right *not* to support, join or form a union. On the face of it, that seems fair enough, if, perhaps a bit superfluous. Oh, but wait - there's more. The Taft-Hartley Act added in several bits and pieces governing union behavior in worksite organizing and union contract campaigns, severely constricting, and, in some cases, eliminating tools through which employees had been able to secure collective bargaining agreements through peaceful means in the preceding twelve years. The employer restrictions in the same arena were few. These new restrictions are set forth in Section 8. Within thirty-five years of Taft-Hartley, employers had raised to a high art the exploitation of the lopsidedness of Section 8 governing bargaining behavior and the perversion of Section 9 governing unionizing elections. The term "management consultant" was a euphemism for a union-buster. The 1970s, 1980s and 1990s saw this particular gig grow from a small niche to a full-blown sector of the legal profession. The provision requiring parties to bargain in good faith became laughable. A union bargaining in bad faith could lose everything if it tried to strike after bad-faith bargaining. An employer bargaining in bad faith is merely ordered to return to the bargaining table. A law designed to foment collective bargaining between workers and employers transmuted into a blueprint for protracted legal battles between opposing lawyers, the outcome of which battles waited months, if not years, for adjudication by the federal courts. Meanwhile, union supporters were unlawfully fired in order to weaken union support amongst employees (the penalty for which - if there even was a penalty - was to rehire the supporter, i.e., no fine, no jail time, no damages, no nothing). The result? Collective bargaining delayed or, if all went well, gone. Interestingly, the Employee Free Choice Act proposed to change none of the above. Interestingly, it preserves the usefulness of management consultants, preserves the provisions that burden unions with enormous financial liability if they transgress Section 8. It preserves the weak penalties imposed upon employers for violating Sections 8 and 9. The Taft-Hartley battleground, so weighted in favor of employers, remains unchanged by the EFCA. If unions really wanted to make a power grab, it would have been to change Section 8, which is where the real battles are fought, not Section 9, which is only about the manner in which employees choose to unionize, together with a procedure to urge both parties to reach a first agreement (which, if they fail to do, by the way, is not imposed by the government, but by an independent private-sector arbitrator that both parties agree to, and which arbitration also, by the way, stands as much chance as being in favor of the employer as it does the union). So, I would take Rick's philosophical question about government intrusion and say, "Why entertain half-measures? Let's see a repeal of the entire National Labor Relations Act!" But wait! We already tried that . . .
Toggle Commented Jul 26, 2009 on Cohen to FMCS at The AFM Observer
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Card check arose because of employer excesses and abuses, coupled with government complicity. If employers had been willing not to obstruct employee unionizing votes, and/or if the government's NLRB directed employers to comply with the intent of the law rather than allowing them loopholes through which to slip, card check would not be necessary. Card check arose because employers successfully subverted the voting process. The voting process is the initial step to collective bargaining, which you say you favor. Employers have subverted the voting process. Card check is an alternative initial step to collective bargaining, which you say you favor. Employers will not have the option to subvert that process. Unions (i.e., people gathered together for a common purpose) need money to operate, to engage in the bargaining process and contract administration, and the only financial source they are allowed to operate with is dues money. Unions without power serve no purpose. If I have it right, you favor powerless unions operating without the benefit of dues. Robert's observation continues to hold the bulk of the credibility.
Toggle Commented Jul 12, 2009 on Cohen to FMCS at The AFM Observer
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Apologies to Rick Blanc: I misspoke. There is one more thing to add to this thread. In an earlier thread, Robert as much as declared that Rick Blanc was anti-union. Mr. Blanc denied such, saying that he was only anti-RMA. However, Mr. Blanc's statements in this thread, "I see it as enabling a power grab for unions, handed to them as payback by the current folks in power in Washington, with the goal of forcing people into unions whether they like it or not, and whether it is a right-to-work state or not," and "... I oppose the 'Employee Free Choice Act' ..." lend credibility to Robert's initial assertion.
Toggle Commented Jul 12, 2009 on Cohen to FMCS at The AFM Observer
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Then there is nothing more to explore in this thread. The truth will out in what actually unfolds. Might as well sit back and watch the show.
Toggle Commented Jul 10, 2009 on Cohen to FMCS at The AFM Observer
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Rick Blanc: "I don't see it that way at all. I see it as enabling a power grab for unions, handed to them as payback by the current folks in power in Washington, with the goal of forcing people into unions whether they like it or not, and whether it is a right-to-work state or not." Quite right: "I don't see it that way at all" is a kind way to describe one's blindness. First, the EFCA movement was underway well before the current folks in power in Washington, and well before the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006. It didn't just pop up. It has been growing for years. It's not payback, it's timing your agenda, just like how the pharmaceutical, financial, timber, and agricultural industries wait for a friendly Republican government to introduce their various agenda. The second part of your response is just blatantly wrong, reverberating with the hollow echo of employer (or Limbaugh) propaganda. Opponents like to forget that the provisions of the EFCA don't engage unless the employees choose to have a union. Unions cannot force themselves on the unwilling. I should think that most people would regard it as good news that a structure is finally in place that moves both parties toward having agreements, so that employment and commerce may both continue unabated. Finally, Rick, while I appreciate your usually-even manner of expressing yourself, I suspect that you have been too long and too far removed from the the world of labor law. I served as an officer in various capacities for 25 years, rubbed elbows with the best and the worst, and I can assure you that there is virtually no such thing as a union "power grab." The only US unions remaining that propose to have any such dictatorial power are SAG and AFTRA, which still (miraculously) function as though they're in a closed-shop environment. The EFCA is only about leveling the playing field between employers and employees who want to unionize.
Toggle Commented Jul 9, 2009 on Cohen to FMCS at The AFM Observer
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And, by the way, George Cohen, as director of FMCS, would not be personally imposing an arbitration decision or imposing a hand-picked panel of arbitrators. The FMCS has long-standing procedures for that kind of stuff. George is a brilliant labor lawyer and an excellent negotiator, but he is not a shill for anyone. His respect for the law and the underlying tenets of the law is as strong, if not stronger, than any lawyer I have met. As the AFM's General Counsel, his advice was always, always, on the conservative side of legal interpretation. He never played fast and loose with any of the rules. Also, BTW, the FMCS director is an administrative position, not a policy-making position, housed under the umbrella of the Secretary of Labor. If Rick Blanc and others wanted something to really fret about, it would be if George were appointed to the NLRB, the FCC, an upper level Justice Department postion, where advocacy is actually a part of the gig, and where George's presence would be directly felt.
Toggle Commented Jul 9, 2009 on Cohen to FMCS at The AFM Observer
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Cripes - talk about mountains out of molehills. The "offending" sections of EFCA are about obtaining an agreement; not about punishing employers. In newly-organized shops, sophisticated employers typically stonewall in order to wear down the employees and their new union, until the dispirited employees give up and dump the union. The point is that the dirty tricks have always been available to the employers, while the employees can only strike - which ain't so great since the Supreme Court ruled years ago that striking employees can be permanently replaced.
Toggle Commented Jul 9, 2009 on Cohen to FMCS at The AFM Observer
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Need for a Sec-Treas - maybe; maybe not. Federal law requires an elected official who has charge of the books and funds. It's always better if the CEO isn't also the CFO. Some unions have only non-administrative officers, with hired professionals to run the shop. But an elected officer with the fiduciary responsibility has to sign off on the union's finances. The AFM delegates have not yet shown a strong desire for another type of setup. The charges: Former General Counsel Cohen informed the IEB in the mid-1990s that the bylaw Marc Sazer was alleged to have violated was unlawful because it proposed to interfere with an individual's rights under Section 7 of the NLRA, which gives an individual the right to form, join or support and union, as well as the right not to do so. The IEB chose not to expunge it from the bylaws because everyone liked the sound of "Thou shalt join no other competing union." Frankly, I was surprised that the IEB or Sam caused these charges to be filed, since the outcome could only be for them to be withdrawn, since the bylaw is unlawful. I would not take Sam's withdrawal of the charges as meaning anything other than that someone finally woke up in New York. Or maybe that was the plan all along. PMG: There are no secrets. They made it plain what they were proposing to be about: An alternative representative for videogame work. In my view, the PMG was just as much about gamesmanship as the IEB filing unsupportable charges. Tom Lee: Doesn't like members telling him what they think he should do. Has a strong adverse reaction to that. If you pick on him, he'll pick back. Has all the makings for a rocky relationship with a strong-willed, opinionated professional rank-and-file. Tom Lee is the boss of the union. Whether the union fights with its members or not is virtually up to him. When he says "no" to his members, closes the door, refuses to listen, a strong-willed, opinionated professional rank-and-file can be expected to fight. We told Tom in 2003 not to engage directly with his detractors; he did anyway, to everyone's detriment. We fashioned in 2005 a structure for getting along and being productive in the recording world. Tom sabotaged it. None of this crap going on now needed to happen. All of it was preventable. And it actually has nothing to do with SPF, Secondary Market, one-offs, new-use/re-use/overuse - it's all about the health of communication between a union leader and his members. Tom ultimately chose to ignore one segment of the membership in favor of another, when the truth is that no one needed to be ignored. Ironically, Tom and I co-authored a negotiation preparation report in the late 1990s, which, if its recommendations for rank-and-file prenegotiation organizing had been implemented by then-President Young, might have set a completely different stage for the future, whereby this videogame contract drama would never have been an issue. It's really too bad. So much time, money and energy has been wasted for what amounts to no gain for anyone.
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By Jove, I think he's got it!
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Re: Andy Stern on Charlie Rose - The president of the second largest union says "us vs. them" is a thing of the past and does not serve our purposes. I tend to agree, having found collaboration where possible to be far more productive than conflict. My problem with the AFM's strategy since 2003 is that it has turned conflict inward and created an "us vs. us" mentality while "them" just stand by and watch "us" squabble. Years ago, CWA offered to merge with the AFM to help us go with serious resources into the global market. We said no thanks, we'll go it alone. The attitude underlying that decision may well turn the AFM into the Donner Party of the labor movement.
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Hey! Just said the same thing in only two paragraphs in the preceding thread. Warped minds think alike. Also, the National Labor Relations Act and the Landrum-Griffin Act are both silent as to the use and funding of sockpuppets.
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Competition in the marketplace should be between producers, not between the workers. A union's primary job is to take wages out of the competition between employers (achieved via CBAs and union density). A union that *injects* wages into the competition between employers has a very interesting philosophy, indeed. A union that stands by idly while density falls and wages become part of the competition between employers has no philosophy at all. Having said that, a delicious irony pervades this blog wherein those posters advocating for competitive, market-driven union contracts (an outgrowth of caplitalist philosophy) simultaneously call for a redistribution of the wealth, reducing the income of the "haves" and redirecting it to the "have-nots," which notion has a distinctly Marxist flavor. Untangling that identity confusion sounds like a job for a Personal Economic Therapist.
Toggle Commented May 14, 2009 on Up-close and personal with Tom at The AFM Observer
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