Audio: "US heads of industry strategize to keep unions down under Obama"

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112 Responses to “Audio: "US heads of industry strategize to keep unions down under Obama"”

  1. Man On Pink Corner says:

    #70

    But for the past couple decades the gap between rich and poor has been growing again

    I’ve looked all through the Constitution, and I’m still missing the part that prescribes given proportion of wealth distribution between the “rich” and the “poor.” Can you help me out here?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      I’ve looked all through the Constitution, and I’m still missing the part that prescribes given proportion of wealth distribution between the “rich” and the “poor.” Can you help me out here?

      No, but thanks for the window into your soul.

  2. Harrkev says:

    I look at unions as a “safety valve.” Being unionized under ordinary circumstances is a bad thing.

    I used to design electronics for a company that had no union. I was free to do my debug by myself. I had to deliver this hardware to a major aerospace corporation for testing. The engineers there (the ones who wrote the specifications) were not even allowed to touch the hardware. They were *FORCED* to have a technician there who was the only one allowed to touch it. When he took lunch (no working through lunch for a union man), the engineers who wanted to get the job done had to stop work. I was soooooo glad that there was no union where I worked. This kind of stuff just kills productivity.

    Everything needs to be balanced: worker vs. employee. Unions are needed when the management starts to take seevere advantage of the employees. It is time for a union when most of the employees demand one due to the way they are being treated. To me, it should be difficult to form a union in order to discourage it. However, the option still remains a powerful threat to the employers, and may be needed in some circumstances.

  3. imipak says:

    I’m reminded once again of some words of the other prophet:

    Some of my friends think these [anti-union] people are annoying idiots. Other of my friends think that these [anti-union] people… are evil fucks. How’re we going to come to a consensus? … Brothers! Sisters! Come together! Can’t we just once join hands and think of them as annoying evil idiot-fucks?”

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=dJcebIEOkhY

  4. ridl says:

    So sad.

    The people destroying the world are obviously terrified of unions. They spent most of the 20th century waging overt and covert wars against them. This resulted, among other horrors, in this group of things in the U.S. called “unions” that really have little to do with the organizations people fought and died for, the ones which brought us the weekend, child labor laws, minimum wage etc. The covert wars (especially the removal of labor history from any non-specialized education) have resulted in many people, including a depressing number of commentators here, thinking unions have “outlived their usefulness” or are somehow anti-worker. If Reagan worked so hard to destroy them, they must be good. If all those vampires are so afraid of the EFCA, they must have a reason. They do. From what I understand, the Act would create a modicum of possibility of unions once again functioning in a way resembling what drove the struggles of so many for so long, as a counterbalance to the power of the upper class, the owners and management and bankers. The EFCA genuinely excites me as the best chance the unions have had in my lifetime. The lack of “secret ballot” troubles me, but as Brooklyntwang’s post @ 51 asserts it seems to be mainly a red herring… and a revitalized labor movement could help move through better legislation down the road.

    The choice of words “the emancipation of the unions” in the post is just and apt. The labor movement has been brutalized and twisted, it has been chained and beaten down. The unions, even the shells of unions we know, are not the problem. With the EFCA, with people learning some history, questioning some assumptions, regaining the freedom to stand in solidarity with fellow workers they might, in the end, still, lead towards a solution.

    Long live the union.

  5. arkizzle says:

    Pink, does it have to be written in the Constitution to be valid?

    Is it not preferable, personally or nationally, to have every working body above the poverty line? (on up to comfortable, if you are feeling generous)

    If that requires (in whatever mechanism or natural balance that it would take to be true) the richest to be a bit less rich, is that not a good thing? Not even morally, but economically.

    Note: I’m not talking of redistribution, as such, I’m talking ideal state of affairs.

  6. Raj77 says:

    @106. They already do. There’s this little thing called “capitalist representative democracy”, and…

    Fuck that. Big business doesn’t get to wreck millions of peoples’ lives through short-sighted greed, then poormouth when workers collectivise.

    Activise, Collectivise, Unionise!

  7. Master Gracey says:

    DRAGONFLY said:

    Can you, or anyone, explain to me how a secret ballot process didn’t allow that freedom?

    To continue DRAGONFLY’s thought: How exactly does the removal of secret ballot create new freedoms?

    The removal of privacy in the vote costs the voter annonimity, which afforded them the chance to vote with their mind, not to please their peer-reviewers (a.k.a. co-workers, union reps, bosses, etc.). To argue differently is to deny that basic truth – I’d like someone to try and make that argument…

  8. mdh says:

    Man on pink corner -

    Preamble – starting with the 26th word of the document: “promote the general welfare”

    There’s nothing so specific there as you requested, but it does lead one directly to the conclusion that when some people have 10 houses, and some cannot afford to pay rent AND heat, that’s where the government has a role to play. That’s what this country was founded on. Fair play.

    I’m not suggesting a heavy handed redistribution of wealth and goods, not at all, but if the captains of industry and capital keep opposing every single progressive move to even the playing field away from owners and toward workers, well, we may collectively get to a heavy handed redistribution.

    Also, can you show me where in the constitution it says that a corporate entity has any of the same rights as a breathing citizen. People have a right to freely associate, but do companies? At what point is it an antitrust issue?

  9. Master Gracey says:

    BKLYNCHRIS – I never claimed to have been wronged by unions, I was presenting information about “card check” elections and this piece of legislation. Do I have to have been wronged to participate with this discussion? If I read your note correctly, it seems I should have been…

  10. mdh says:

    Rhetorical Question: If the employees can organize and strike, negotiate with one voice, why can’t employers join together and answer “with one voice, because they are more powerful that way.”

    Are employers people? No. Mostly employers are pieces of paper written up to limit the liability of those who front the money. Inc. LLC. etc.

    To answer your question – employers cannot join together to fix wages (or prices) because of Anti-trust law*, which is the counterbalance to the limited liability.

    If you are willing to take all that RISK with UNLIMITED LIABILITY, then by all means, organize against your employees.

    *(excepting Major Leaguer Baseball**)
    **(which HAS a union)

  11. Gilbert Wham says:

    @#47 Awwwwwwwww, shucks!

  12. DarthVain says:

    Wow just wow. The is exactly what is wrong with political process in the US and to a lesser extent in Canada.

    This one issue probably makes me more angry than any other in government.

    Where a lobbyist group, special interest group, or corporate group, takes a chunk of money and throws it at government to influence things. That is bad enough. This should only be reserved for individuals who vote.

    It absolutely boggles my brain to think, I as a tax payer, am giving my money to government, who in turn gives it to a group, who in turn uses that money to influence government, perhaps in a way that I do not agree with. I mean for all intents and purposes I am giving the government money to not support what I believe in. Because that makes so much sense.

    Some of the stuff we live with every day is so mind boggling stupid, yet we go along with it or are seemingly powerless to stop it. People wonder why voter turnout is so low, and why there is voter apathy, well look no further.

    If Obama lets this slide, I would say that it is a good indication that this is the same old, same old, and that for all his talk, nothing really has changed.

  13. Master Gracey says:

    BROOKLYNTWANG, I said (in an imagined exchange):

    “You’ve got a nice little company here, thank you for taking all the risk and starting it and making it successful, but my friends and I just decided to bring our union into your company and half your employees signed these little cards when we asked them, so now we negotiate for all your employees. We’re your partner now, and thanks to EFCA, you can’t do anything but hope we don’t bust-out your company…

    To which you said:

    A ‘bust out’ is a common tactic in the organized crime world where a business’s assets and lines of credit are exploited and exhausted to the point of bankruptcy.”
    This is not relevant to what we are talking about.

    If you consider a union to be a form of Organized Crime (as some do), then I contend the term makes sense in this context and is relevant.

  14. Ohhhsnap says:

    Businesses receive the unions they deserve.

    T bd nns r bsclly rgnzd crm.

  15. brooklyntwang says:

    Brainspore, that wasn’t me that was Master Gracy

  16. bklynchris says:

    can master gracey (or anyone else for that matter) please explain to me how any union has saliently adversely effected his life? Really, one serious actual personal experience where he was screwed, or otherwise affronted, assaulted, etc, by a union.

    AND, how had the union not been involved that the incident would have gone in his favor.

    Maybe I would like to hate unions too but have not had anyone share with me a really good reason why.

    Me? I have any number of things to be thankful to unions for.

    And @16, unions screwed Detroit? Yeah, I never bought one of the big three cars becuase they were made by union members. Not because they were poorly designed gas guzzling pieces of shite. Oh but wait, were the people who decided that was what would be rolling onto the assembly line were union members too, right.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Wow…this is how “civilization disappears.” Imagine what Mr. Marcus would have thought of the French Revolution, when people were really mad!

  18. bklynchris says:

    Thank you for this head’s up. I feared as much with the exit of Paulson and his bizarre TARP plan in place. I am so not hearing the words “regulation, oversight, evaluation”, and well…nationalized health care. Though I knew this was never on the table I thought continued efforts to remove the right to it would at least abate with this administration. Now there is so much about to float out there this was only inevitable.

    Since they can’t take your money outright anymore (except of course through TARP) they are just going to see that you don’t get all of what you earned.

    I’m really depressed.

  19. brooklyntwang says:

    It is easy for some of us to think that unions have “outlived their usefulness” with our current wage and safety laws that unions won in the past and the middle class they helped create. But for the past couple decades the gap between rich and poor has been growing again, and I think the decline of unions is a factor in this. Also, there are still millions of people in the country working in jobs where they are taken advantage of, with wages too low to feed their family, no benefits. It is extremely ‘useful’ to them to unite so that they have the power to bargain collectively with their employer. We hear the horror stories that are told to us about the thugs of the teamsters and the corrupt unions, but the majority of unions are simply organizations of employees standing together to fight for a better life.

    Most of the time, its not the union suddenly showing up and talking workers into a union, its workers deciding they need power to make their jobs better, and asking for a union despite getting intimidated and/or fired in the process.

    @#52 and others – you really think card check recognition will result in it being common practice for unions to use thugs to intimidate employees? We hear anecdotal evidence about it, but it seems like a straw man argument to me.

    “It used to be that the union’s side of the bargain was training and quality control”

    that is the side of the bargain that benefitted employers, but the union’s side of the bargain for workers is much bigger – the power to vote on one contract, gains in wages and benefits, safety protections, etc.

    @59, your link says
    “A ‘bust out’ is a common tactic in the organized crime world where a business’s assets and lines of credit are exploited and exhausted to the point of bankruptcy.”
    This is not relevant to what we are talking about.

  20. Brainspore says:

    @ Brooklyntwang:

    You’ve got a nice little company here, thank you for taking all the risk and starting it and making it successful…

    Are we still talking about the heads of industry that accepted bailout money from us taxpayers? Because clearly they did not take all the risk.

  21. Drummer says:

    Wht gd d nns d? nns r bsnss n nd f thmslvs. nn bsss hv mlt-mlln dllr glf rsrts, scrt bnk ccnts nd hst f thr bnfts pd fr by th pr nn mmbr’s ds. t’s pltcs, pln nd smpl. nn mmbrs tk t n th r vry tm.

    Wht ds th nn gy gt? Jb scrty? mm, lt’s thnk bt tht fr lttl bt. Bttr yt, tk wlk rnd Dtrt. Chck t t.

    Tht’s wht th nns hv dn t mrcn ndstry, lng wth th stpd xcs wtht ngh blls t stnd p t thm.

    Thr’s yr nn t wrk ll rght.

    Wk p. Thr s n sch thng s fr lnch. Y wnt fr hlth cr? Fr rtrmnt? Fr ths nd fr tht? Wll, smbdy’s gt t py by wrkng t crt vl nd wlth.

    Fr vry $1000 th fds py t, thy hv t cllct $1500 frm Y n txs. Whr ds th $500 g? Brny Frnk nd hs fdg-pckn’ bds.

    Th snr w lrn hw t wrk th snr w’ll b t f ths rcssn. Bst thng t d: tk tht 1 trlln nd gv vrybdy n-yr tx hldy nstd f pssng t th lt.

    Tht wld b rcvry. Pt th mny whr t blngs: n th pckts f th ppl wh rn t.

  22. Master Gracey says:

    The Employee Free Choice Act amends current union law by providing a Card Check procedure to allow the Union to (literally) muscle their way into a company by convincing a minority of the employees (30%) to sign cards asking to form a union, and the union can collect these cards from employees at home, in person, removing the private vote they enjoy under current law. I can picture it now…You don’t want to join the union, aw, you’ve made Bubba sad – look how sad he is. Don’t you want to make Bubba happy? Sign the card.

    I also find it a bit unsettling that somehow, by accepting funds from the US Govt (some of which say the money, and it’s strings were forced on them in a closed-door session) restricts the ability of the comapny to act in it’s own best interest.

    There is nothing wrong with companies working together (in a perfectly legal manner) to influence legislation, who would complain if “green companies” did it? Al Gore is right, we need cap and trade NOW!

    For fear of getting stuck in the BoingBoing Spam Filter, I’ll leave as an exercise to find the AFL-CIO position on this bill – they are items two and three when you google for “employee free choice act”.

  23. Master Gracey says:

    I haven’t found the answer to this question yet, so I put it out to the collective wisdom of the readers here, and I ask this most sincerely:

    How large does a company have to be before this applies to them? Is it 10 employees? 50? 100? 150? I simply don’t know, so if anyone does, please let me/us know – I think it would be informative.

    As for the “Notes from the House Committee on Eduation and Labor” posted by BROKLYNTWANG I submit the ranking members on the committee are resoundingly for this bill, so their analysis may be a bit lop-sided/biased, and might, in some small way, be related to the campaign donations the majority party in the House and Senate have gotten over the last few years?

    I prefer my analysis from someone outside looking in, like George McGovern in the Op-Ed I posted previously.

  24. ab5tract says:

    Gotta love the scary robot lady delivering a copyright notice at the beginning.

    Yeah, DMCA this mthfcks! (self-censored)

    I couldn’t get much further though, without someone to hold me while we both contemplate how fucking deliciously angry the sex will be after listening to these ass clowns justify their corruption with disgusting millenial Christo-oligarchical rhetoric. Which probably more than half of the Budweiser crowd probably agrees with, despite that the labor unions who run Bud’s breweries and canning facilities probably feel a bit uneasy about this.

    Can we please get a little help in this mutha? O? You hearing us?

    FTR: (This mutant <3 <3 <3 Wikileaks)^10*mega*billions

  25. Master Gracey says:

    As for coercion, I submit the following (but remember, it is from politicians that don’t historically get large campaign donations from Unions):

    “I began my career with UNITE with a strong belief in worker’s rights and democracy in the workplace,” said Jen Jason, a former organizer for UNITE-HERE, a union that represents nearly a million workers and retirees in the textile, lodging, foodservice, and manufacturing industries. “During the course of my employment with the union, I began to understand the reality behind the rhetoric. I took in the ways that organizers were manipulating workers just to get a majority on ‘the cards’ and the various strategies that they employed. I began to appreciate that promises made by organizers at a worker’s house had little to do with how the union actually functions as a ‘service’ organization.”

    Read More – Link to press release.

  26. Chris Tucker says:

    Libertarian fapping in 3… 2… 1…

    Oh, wait.

    They’ve already begun.

  27. Man On Pink Corner says:

    We are so screwed.

  28. Master Gracey says:

    AB5TRACT said:

    Umm, in case you didn’t realize this, the companies that held this meeting are not in fact violating any laws.

    I never said anything else – all the way back to post #3 on this topic:

    There is nothing wrong with companies working together (in a perfectly legal manner) to influence legislation, who would complain if “green companies” did it? Al Gore is right, we need cap and trade NOW!

    To really stoke up the flames, let me say this – If I understand the evil corporations argument, it goes roughly like this:

    1) You started a company
    2) You took it public
    3) You made bad decisions
    4) The economy went south big time
    5) Your company is about to close it’s doors
    6) Gov’t decides your company is too big to fail
    7) You get money (LOAN) from the Gov’t to save your company
    8) You try to increase profitability of your company to payback the Gov’t and save the business
    9) Public decries greedy corporations not concerned with public good, putting profits ahead of people

    As some companies considered their options, they backed away from the “free” money table in Washington (Ford, for example) – the cost of the free money was (in their opinion) too great.

    I’d argue that items #8 and #9 are at odds with each other, and the problem is we need to find the right balance. If the Gov’t made a gift of these monies, then item #9 is a very valid argument, but if the money is to be paid back, the companies need to be able to make the money to pay it back. Companies should never be allowed to break the law, but they should be allowed to work freely within the confines of the law.

  29. Master Gracey says:

    BRAINSPORE – no, we’re talking abou the “fresh meat” unions will gobble up when EFCA becomes law, not the large, public firms you mention that got bailout money.

  30. Master Gracey says:

    The NRA (that’s National Restaurant Assoc. ;^) is against the Employee Free Choice Act for three basic reasons:

    1. A card-check process increases the risk of coercion.
    2. Private ballots are a basic American right.
    3. An employee’s decision to join a union should be made in private.

  31. Takuan says:

    I’ll say it again for those that can’t remember or read: if you are already rich, ,unions are bad. I mean REALLY rich. If you work for a living and are not in a union (assuming your workplace has more than three workers), good luck – you’ll need it.

    Why is this so hard to understand?

  32. arkizzle says:

    When I was in school, we called it ganging-up on someone..

    Weak.

  33. Enoch_Root says:

    The Employee Free Choice Act is not a pro-worker bill. It is a pro-union bill. Unions simply do not always represent the best interest of the average worker in every situation.

    Here is Rhode Island the teachers unions won’t agree to pay cuts so they are firing teachers or “forcing” retirement by making other options unappealing. The state has to balance the budget by law. It is a 5% pay cut across the board or firings to compensate. It seems it would be better to take the cut than to lay off teachers but the union won’t even consider it. The basic economic rule at work here is… cheap labor means less unemployment (is that better than more unemployment but higher employment benefits?)

  34. Master Gracey says:

    On Secret Ballot rights, again, from folks that don’t historically get large donations from labor unions:

    The Republican substitute amendment, the Secret Ballot Protection Act, was introduced last week (Feb. 2007) by the late Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA), a longtime Member of the Committee and former Chairman of the panel’s Workforce Protections Subcommittee. The amendment would have prohibited a union from being recognized based on a mere card check; insisted that a union may only be recognized by an employer and certified by the National Labor Relations Board if it has won majority support in a secret ballot election; and secured the right of every worker to a secret-ballot vote on whether to unionize.

    Read more – Link to Press Release.

    BTW, what’s wrong with a secret ballot (no quotations)? Eliminating private (secret) voting opens voters up to peer-pressure (and worse)…

  35. ab5tract says:

    @106

    “When I was in school, we called it ganging-up on someone, but that was a long time ago…”

    Oh the poor little helpless capital class, who will think of them?! I mean, they had to pay for their own Blackwater security men in NO after Katrina, can you believe it? They are so meager, I fear for their ability to fend for themselves.

    Seriously, if we use your metaphor, the capitalist class would be like some super efficient thugocracy on the playground, able to intimidate all and rule the ‘ground as they see fit. In that way the union in your metaphor would have lot more to do with the Rebel Alliance than some low brow gangbanger collective.

    “Rhetorical Question: If the employees can organize and strike, negotiate with one voice, why can’t employers join together and answer “with one voice, because they are more powerful that way.””

    Umm, in case you didn’t realize this, the companies that held this meeting are not in fact violating any laws. What you are proposing is legal. It is also the reason why Congress is run by lobbyists, for lobbyists.

    Not only is it legal, it is easy, and due to their massive capital, way more effective. (Two companies working together > Two employees attempting to unionize). To pretend that the EFCA somehow imbalances the power relations so that employees will have more power than employers belies the fact that you really have no idea about the way economics, politics, and power intersect.

    If the EFCA ends up hurting companies, then we legislate again, modify the terms, create broader means of reporting truly inefficient unions, etc. The reason the EFCA exists at the moment is to address existing imbalances in the current system. It wasn’t written to address a problem that wasn’t there, it was written to address a problem that very much is.

  36. brooklyntwang says:

    @62/62

    The secret ballot, in and of itself is great, but here’s how the current, existing secret ballot system is not “allowing the freedom” to stand in solidarity:

    Democratic elections should have these things:
    • Equal access to voters by both parties
    • Equal access to media
    • Free speech for both candidates and voters
    • Protection of voters from economic coercion
    • Secret ballots

    Most of the time when employer’s initiate a secret ballot union election, the first four of those go out the window. The employers have a captive audience at work to campaign against the union, fire workers for speaker in favor of the union, and use economic coercion by threatening to close or relocate the company.

    So NLRB elections as they are now can’t be considered democratic to begin with, secret ballot or not.

    The idea of EFCA is to do an end-run around this by allowing employees to get a union by a simple majority vote using cards. Employees can still vote for a secret ballot election, but employers can’t force one and then intimidate union supporting employees.

    It’s not a perfect solution, but it would be an improvement for millions of people.

  37. Man On Pink Corner says:

    To elaborate: Yes, I agree, the Bush presidency illustrated everything that can possibly go wrong with laissez-faire economic policies. No, I don’t agree that the answer to that is to warm up every retreaded leftist idea that comes out of Caracas. Creating a hyper-activist government is not OK, and it’s truly frightening to see how many smart, literate Boingers consider it to be an ideal worth striving for.

    A government that is powerful enough to give you everything you want is also powerful enough to take everything away.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      I don’t agree that the answer to that is to warm up every retreaded leftist idea that comes out of Caracas.

      If you believe that Hugo Chavez is a socialist, I have a bridge that I’d like to sell you. He’s quite similar to GW Bush in that his agenda is to empty the treasury into the pockets of himself and his friends. He’s no more legitimately socialist than Bush is legitimately conservative.

      A government that is powerful enough to give you everything you want is also powerful enough to take everything away.

      Pardon me if I don’t want a government conceived and organized as an antidote to your fear and anxiety. The kind of government that takes everything away from you is the kind that’s supported by that brand of fear-mongering. It’s been done many times. It didn’t work even once.

  38. ab5tract says:

    @2,3,everybody

    My post was emotionally charged because of the precedent that bailout recipients are going to contribute money to these causes. They wouldn’t even be in business if the citizens who asked their Congress to vote ‘no’ on the “economic bailout” had been listened to in more than a show-vote in the House.

    If they want to stop the bill, they can use their PR budget to inform the public. They shouldn’t be able to use public funding to then buy off public politicians. I know, I know, “this is the way it works.” Now can you understand why so many of use voted for change?

    And if the Act goes to far lets talk about that. This is the first I’ve heard about it, honestly. The folks at Home Depot can get a news camera in their face whenever they want to announce their opposition. Having shadowy, copyrighted conference calls certainly undermines democracy and can certainly be called a contributing factor as to why shit is so god-awfully broken right now.

  39. grimc says:

    @master gracey

    The Employee Free Choice Act amends current union law by providing a Card Check procedure to allow the Union to (literally) muscle their way into a company by convincing a minority of the employees (30%) to sign cards asking to form a union, and the union can collect these cards from employees at home, in person, removing the private vote they enjoy under current law.

    Those are lies. Simple, bald-faced lies. Point out in your link where a) A union is formed with 30% of employees requesting one, and b) Where the choice of a secret ballot election is taken away from the employees.

    Now think about who told you those lies, turning you into a conduit for spreading them.

    @drummer

    re: Your assessment of Barney Frank’s friends.

    You’re a dick.

  40. BingoTheChimp says:

    @ DRUMMER

    I was gonna respond to your narrow-minded take on organized labor, but then I saw your homophobic remark, from which I conclude you are incapable of a reasonable dialogue about anything.

    Thanks for saving me the trouble of making you look foolish!

  41. Enoch_Root says:

    @#9 AB5TRACT
    I agree inasmuch as the government doling out cash to Tom, Dick, and Harry can have all sorts of wretched results. We bail out CITI and they buy a corporate jet because no one put restrictions on the money. We give unions massive power by government sanction and they sink the auto industry with massive benefits. Unintended consequences are perhaps the defining feature of well meaning government expenditure/regulation.

  42. Baldhead says:

    Never been the biggest fan of unions, but they have their uses and any move to use subterfuge to attack them is reprehensible. It should always be the choice of the workers, and I don’t see how this bill changes that.

  43. Enoch_Root says:

    @GRIMC you are spot on about the Barney Frank crack… you are half right on the EFCA.

    1) 30% would not make the unions

    2) The bill specifically allows unions to form without a secret ballot. The union would only need to collect signature cards from workers and they could do it in person, at work, at home, wherever. It allows a lot of room for influence at the least, coercion at the worst.

  44. mdh says:

    whts wrng wth lbrtrns?

    f y wnt scty dtrmnd by blgcl mprtv ln, thn nthng.

    Is that civil enough Antinous?

  45. robbt says:

    To me this seems like it would enable employees to form a union easier and avoid the potential attempt by the company to influence the decision making process before the secret ballot is held. You better vote against the union or you’ll be fired etc. vs. most people have made a decision to unionize at one point here are our cards. As far as influencing the decision it’s going to have an impact. It’s more like being susceptible to peer pressure vs. giving a chance for a dominant actor (the boss or corporate HR department) to exert it’s influence. To paraphrase own of the douchebags on the call “American would become France, This is how civilizations end.” So it’s a question of whether you like workers to be able to aggregate their influence or whether you are in the position where benefit from being able to deal with each employee separately.

  46. Ugly Canuck says:

    Hey how about “breaking” public-sector unions by contracting things out instead – perhaps we can save the taxpayers some money too.
    Oops sorry looks like that’s just opening the door to horrible graft and the subversion of the very idea of government by the people, for the people:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=aYYHKPn4DOe8&refer=news
    These contractors make political donations too no doubt – tax deductible, to Parties that want more contracting out. How socially responsible such contractors are! But for what?

  47. Jonathan Badger says:

    The Employee Free Choice Act is not a pro-worker bill. It is a pro-union bill. Unions simply do not always represent the best interest of the average worker in every situation

    That’s like saying democracy isn’t pro-citizen but pro-politician. Yes, sometimes union leaders like any other leaders make bad decisions and/or are corrupt — but at least the workers can vote such people out — because a union gives democracy to the workers.

    Here is Rhode Island the teachers unions won’t agree to pay cuts so they are firing teachers or “forcing” retirement by making other options unappealing. The state has to balance the budget by law. It is a 5% pay cut across the board or firings to compensate. It seems it would be better to take the cut than to lay off teachers but the union won’t even consider it.

    Think about it — once pay cuts are acceptable what’s to stop the state from saying next year there is going to be another pay cut? And another? It’s a race to the bottom that way. That’s why unions are generally against pay cuts. They know that lay offs can only go so far.

  48. dreaptha says:

    ctlly gr wth ths. nns d nt d ny gd nd rlly nd p dng mr hrm thn gd. Gt rd f thm. Lk wht thy dd t hlp cllps th cnmy n Dtrt.

  49. Man On Pink Corner says:

    Sy wht y wnt bt lbr nns nd cllctv brgnng n gnrl, th FC s mnstrs. t ltrlly gvs th lzst 50% f ny rgnztn cntrl vr ts dstny.

  50. brooklyntwang says:

    Took some digging around for a real stat, but here’s what I found:

    “46 percent of workers reported that management pressured them to oppose the union during the NLRB
    election process.”

    “of those who signed an authorization card in the presence of the person who gave it to them during a majority sign-up, 14 percent that union staff
    pressured them to support the union during the majority sign-up process”

    Eaton, Adrienne and Jill Kriesky. “NLRB Elections vs. Card Check Campaigns: Results of a Worker Survey,”
    INDUS. & LAB. REL. REV., forthcoming 2008.

    Forty Six percent! Lets say that under EFCA, the rate of union staff intimidation doubles to 28 percent (I don’t think it would actually climb that much), it would still be barely more than half of the rate of intimidation by employers under the current process.

    Let’s face the reality that almost half the time, workers who try to unionize because they are being screwed by their employer get threatened and intimidated. Let’s have congress do something about it.

  51. Bevatron Repairman says:

    @9: Can we ban political activities from everyone receiving government largesse? Because that would put a damped on a whole lot of folks driving the demand for EFCA. SEIU, AFSCME, among others. Happy to ban the TARP recipients from screaming against this if we can muzzle the other side. Can we muzzle the correctional officers union in California? That’d be great. Or can we just agree that folks should get to advocate for what they want, even if there is some mingling of public money? Because – these days – every organization bigger than about 100 people is at the public teat in one way or another.

  52. Brainspore says:

    I also find it a bit unsettling that somehow, by accepting funds from the US Govt (some of which say the money, and it’s strings were forced on them in a closed-door session) restricts the ability of the comapny to act in it’s own best interest.

    I think it’s just nifty for companies to act in their own best interests as long as they are spending their own money to do so. But they just accepted the biggest socialist handout in history and immediately used that opportunity to lobby against rights for the working man.

    And how exactly does one “force” money on someone who doesn’t want it? Get a couple of thugs to shove wads of cash into your pocket and throw you out the door?

  53. grimc says:

    @enoch root

    The bill, indeed, does allow employees to unionize without a secret ballot. But at the same time (from master gracey’s wiki link):

    The Employee Free Choice Act allows employees to choose a secret ballot process to elect union representation if they do not desire a card check election, but employers are required to accept whichever method employees choose.

    This “EFCA takes away the most American of rights to a secret ballot election!!!ONEELEVEN!!” is the right wing meme of choice, and it’s simply not true.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Enoch_Root

    The Rhode Island teacher crisis is because the Republican Governor has refused to raise taxes to meet the budget shortfall he has created and REFUSES to stop the ridiculous sub-contracting of EVERYTHING.

    We have 100′s of private snow plow vehicles who can’t do a decent job of plowing the roads because they wait until 5pm to get out of their day jobs to plow and as a result the whole state is snowed in when even just 3 inches of snow falls on days like today. Last year school kids STARVED and Nearly froze to DEATH on buses for 14 hours because Gov. Carcieri hasn’t had the guts to replace 100′s of crony cousins and their plow truck driving relatives with a few dozen professional unionized plow truck drivers.

    Gov. Carcieri is trying to starve the unions so he can give all the money to his political friends. Unions are the ONLY thing standing up to him in the state of Rhode Island.

  55. Ugly Canuck says:

    Yes brooklyntwng, threatened intimidated and fired.

  56. Jubal Cain says:

    Jonathan Badger:
    “Think about it — once pay cuts are acceptable what’s to stop the state from saying next year there is going to be another pay cut? And another? It’s a race to the bottom that way. That’s why unions are generally against pay cuts. They know that lay offs can only go so far.”

    Actually, layoffs can go much further.
    Were you trying to organize on behalf of Circuit City employees recently?

  57. theegor says:

    Can someone clarify the following for me?

    If my coworkers decide to hold an election to unionize, and they want a card-check election, can I contribute my vote anonymously?

  58. Takuan says:

    seniority came from the idea that knowledge accumulated and was valuable. Has this changed?
    American business practice has abandoned the idea of the worth of the individual. Any job is reduced by sub-division and abrogation of responsibility to the level of less-than-adult-human in the name of interchangeable “worker components”. Is this the society you wish to live in? In fact, it is a lie. Inevitably the minimum wage teenager being exploited must be bailed out eventually by the experienced and under-valued. But so long as things limp by, no one cares. Short term profits never had anything to do with optimization. You mock the Chinese in their grasping, short-sighted hustle – you are the same with a few days more to deny in.

  59. Summer says:

    Dreaptha @16:

    I actually agree with this. Unions do not do any good and really end up doing more harm than good. Get rid of them. Look what they did to help collapse the economy in Detroit.

    You’ve got to be kidding. Look what unions did to bring modern conditions to workplaces. You may not realize this, but if it weren’t for the existence and activities of labor unions, the standard workweek would be much longer than 40 hours, and you might be working that longer week for less than a dollar an hour, because there would be no such thing as minimum wages. You’d also be doing it in haphazard conditions (no OSHA standards) and receiving no benefits as an employee.

    Unions have done one helluva lot of good over their history. They’ve made mistakes on occasion as well, just like any other human organization. The fact that they are not infallible is no reason to ignore the good that they have done and still continue to do.

  60. dsac86 says:

    @#12 Enoch_Root
    We give unions massive power by government sanction and they sink the auto industry with massive benefits.

    @ #16 dreaptha

    Unions do not do any good and really end up doing more harm than good. Get rid of them. Look what they did to help collapse the economy in Detroit.

    Both of you need to find new sources for news. The auto industry is not in turmoil because of labour wages. The auto industry is in turmoil because they produced cars that were not selling. Their competitors sold more (and it had very little, if anything to do with price point or labour costs).

    Unions do a lot more good than harm. They give the worker some sort of ability to negotiate a fair contract with their employer. They help workers make a wage that they can live off of. They help prevent unsafe work environments. Are there bad ones? Of course. But I’ve worked for two different unions, and without them I would have been put into dangerous situations for inadequate pay, and would have felt as though I had no way of correcting the situation.

  61. Jonathan Badger says:

    Actually, layoffs can go much further.
    Were you trying to organize on behalf of Circuit City employees recently?

    The issue under discussion was layoffs of teachers; There is no way Rhode Island is going to effectively shut down their school system through major layoffs and the union knows it. If classrooms start having 40 kids, parents will complain and the politicians responsible will be voted out.

    And despite the example of Circuit City, even most private companies aren’t really ready to close up shop when they begin talking of pay cuts — they just want to act that way because they can get more surplus labor out of their workers if the workers buy the ruse.

  62. Master Gracey says:

    MDH said:

    Every employee IS a stakeholder.

    I’d counter every employee is a MINOR stakeholder, owners are MAJOR stakeholders.

  63. Rindan says:

    Taking away secret ballots is simply insane. We wouldn’t accept the steal of secret ballots in any other aspect of a democracy. There is a reason why when you vote for a politician, you do it in secret. You can intimidate, coerce, or even just peer pressure someone who wants to be liked into doing something that they don’t want to do. When you are alone in a voting box though, there is no coercion. You vote how you truly want to vote, everyone else be damned.

    Even if you magically eliminate more evil forms of coercion, simply being ostracized by peers for your own personal thoughts is also wrong. If someone doesn’t want to join a union, they shouldn’t be forced endure public ridicule for their beliefs. In the same way, no one should be forced to endure public ridicule because they voted for a politician.

    If you want to stand out and shout your belief, great. More power to you. An iron will and the ability to accept ridicule and harassment by peers should be the prerequisite to voting how you truly feel.

    I like a lot of Obama’s proposed policies. This one though makes me sick. I can’t honestly believe that someone can argue that taking away the right to a secret ballot, one of the most universally recognized fundamental requirements to have a functioning democracy, can argue with a straight face that this is a good idea. We would violently reject this notion in any other aspect where secret ballots already exist.

    Personally, I find the idea of workers being deigned the right to a secret ballot even scarier than citizens being denied a secret ballot to vote for politicians. I can tell the local church group to fuck off when they come to ask to sign a card voting for McCain and feel safe that I will never see them. Telling my co-workers to fuck off on the other hand is vastly harder and many times more likely to end ugly.

    I find the entire idea horrifying and can’t believe that we are actually contemplating this.

  64. Man On Pink Corner says:

    #25

    But I’ve worked for two different unions, and without them I would have been put into dangerous situations for inadequate pay, and would have felt as though I had no way of correcting the situation.

    What did the police say? I mean, when you called them, because someone was pointing a gun at you and ordering you into a dangerous situation?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      What did the police say? I mean, when you called them, because someone was pointing a gun at you and ordering you into a dangerous situation?

      If that’s your best shot, you missed.

  65. Master Gracey says:

    MDH said:

    I called you a libertarian, lower case, because I feel you are. I don’t intend it to be a dirty word, just trying to hang a label on your viewpoint. Capital L would denote the political party, and that is a different discussion, one which we definitely are not having here.

    Fair enough, thanks for the clarification.

  66. mdh says:

    You’ve got a nice little company here, thank you for taking all the risk and starting it and making it successful…

    Yeah, because your employees have NOTHING to do with your success – they take no risks whatsoever in working for a start-up unestablished company…. and their risks are MINISCULE compared with yours ANYHOW. The peons simply MUST give up their rights and not make demands of ‘fair treatment’ and ‘their share’ in order to be part of your success… success which you would clearly achieve even without them… those leaches…

    do libertarians ever listen to themselves?

    WE’RE NOT JEALOUS OF YOUR STUFF! YOU’RE JUST A BUNCH OF GREEDY SSHLS* WHO DON’T KNOW HOW TO SHARE.

    *-slf-dsmvwld

  67. lumberjack says:

    No, you either sign the card or you don’t. If you sign it, it means you want a union, and the organizers keep your card to be turned in when they have enough cards signed.

    If you don’t want a union, the organizers and your coworkers can work on you until you sign the card. This doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily be coerced illegally, but it could happen.

    Many years ago we tried to start a union in a film processing lab. The union guys who came down from New Jersey made me nervous whenever they were in the room. Seriously, they talked out of the sides of their mouths and could make you pee yourself with a stare.

    No, I vote card-check is a bad idea. If the workers want a union, a secret ballot is the best way to get one.

  68. Stefan Jones says:

    Corporations really do know what’s best for workers.

    For example, they’ll provide employees with lube and help them bend over so the Invisible Hand of the Market can fist them with maximum comfort.

  69. Man On Pink Corner says:

    Pardon me if I don’t want a government conceived and organized as an antidote to your fear and anxiety. The kind of government that takes everything away from you is the kind that’s supported by that brand of fear-mongering. It’s been done many times. It didn’t work even once.

    What, in your opinion, keeps the Central and South American economies from growing in a stable, sustainable manner that benefits essentially all segments of society, the way the US’s economy arguably has done for most of the twentieth century?

    I just find it amusing (well, OK, alarming) that a large proportion of posts on BoingBoing’s front page amount to protests about the US government overreaching its Constitutional authority, while it seems that every other post in its forums is about how great it would be if the government would overreach its Constitutional authority just a teensy bit more.

    It’s the biggest cognitive disconnect since Ted Haggard left town.

  70. hobomike says:

    @ #7, takuan

    Always enjoy your comments, T.

    But I’d like to add, I think if you’re REALLY, REALLY rich, (like a Gates, Soros, Buffet RICH) you’re a democrat and you’re thinking about legacy and social responsibility. Buffet has said that he’s obviously not taxed enough.

    It’s the people who just aren’t rich enough for themselves who buy into the free market/Republican/anti-union bullshit. As if they’ll ever get there…

    Anyone in the US who works for someone else can thank the labor movement for a whole number of benefits we have by law, like weekends/holidays/sick-days off, as an example.

  71. mdh says:

    We all know our corporate overlords and the captains of industry and finance are trustworthy and deeply selfless people with only the good of the public in mind. Right?

  72. doggo says:

    Imagine working in a factory before there were unions. Hell, imagine working in a factory now without a union.

  73. Master Gracey says:

    BROOKLYNTWANG said:

    Unions are what happens when employees get together to ask for it with one voice, because they are more powerful that way.

    When I was in school, we called it ganging-up on someone, but that was a long time ago…

    Rhetorical Question: If the employees can organize and strike, negotiate with one voice, why can’t employers join together and answer “with one voice, because they are more powerful that way.”

  74. brooklyntwang says:

    @88
    “loosers that could not care less for the company, doing nothing and getting paid outrageous $$!”

    that sounds exactly like a lot of these execs that drove their companies to need bailouts and now get huge bonuses.

    @people talking about start-ups and union members getting ‘outrageous $$’ and detroit auto workers. The conversation will be distorted if we don’t recognize that the vast majority of union drives are to unionize people making low wages with little benefits. The employees in question are mostly going to be in shitty service jobs, retail jobs, janitorial, factory jobs, home health aides, security guards, farm labor, sanitation, clerical, etc. We are talking, for the most part, about people trying to feed a family on $8 per hour, $12 per hour, using the emergency room as their primary care because they have no benefits, being asked to work 10, 12 hour days with no respect. Arbitrary pay scales where people doing the same job get paid different amounts (often along gender lines), The experiences of BoingBoing readership with unions and employers are not necessarily representative of the typical workplace where employees are trying to unionize.

    And these are the people that can’t afford to get fired for trying to unionize during an NLRB election called by the employer after a majority of them have already signed up.

  75. Master Gracey says:

    MDH said:

    Yeah, because your employees have NOTHING to do with your success – they take no risks whatsoever in working for a start-up unestablished company

    I never diminshed the contributions of the employees, I simply asserted the owners of the company took on a greater risk. It is much riskier to start your own company than to join one as an employee (I’ve worked for a couple start-up firms, always had good experiences (touch wood), but you’re right, I did assume a bit of risk, moreso than an employee at an Fortune 500 company – but if I could have gotten a similar job at a Fortune 500 company, I likely wouldn’t have joined the start-ups).

    The contribution of the employees is reflected in their compensation, if they are not happy they can move on – I don’t quite get this “they owe me” mentality, they made an offer, you accepted it -if you want something more, either ask for it where you are or go find it elsewhere.

    Many start-ups give early workers (the ones that take the greatest risk) shares in the company to reward their loyalty and service – it’s not unheard of, in fact it was quite common about 10 years ago, before the “Dot Com Bubble” burst.

    But, every employee is not a partner – partners make equity investments, take below-market wages, and will commonly defer compensation to help the start-up achieve critical mass or remain solvent.

    Finally, I don’t consider myself a Libertarian, but that doesn’t mean I don’t share any ideals with them…

  76. brooklyntwang says:

    @99
    “What, in your opinion, keeps the Central and South American economies from growing in a stable, sustainable manner that benefits essentially all segments of society, the way the US’s economy arguably has done for most of the twentieth century?”

    You mean the US economy that is having it’s second great depression of the twentieth century?

  77. Master Gracey says:

    GRIMC – in reverse order:
    From WSJ Op-Ed by George McGovern, on loss of private vote:

    under EFCA, workers could lose the freedom to express their will in private, the right to make a decision without anyone peering over their shoulder, free from fear of reprisal.

    As for the 30% number, I confused two numbers – Unions can get NLRB elections with 30% “sign-in”, but it takes 50% to finally become unionized (from same WSJ Op-Ed):

    The key provision of EFCA is a change in the mechanism by which unions are formed and recognized. Instead of a private election with a secret ballot overseen by an impartial federal board, union organizers would simply need to gather signatures from more than 50% of the employees in a workplace or bargaining unit, a system known as “card-check.” There are many documented cases where workers have been pressured, harassed, tricked and intimidated into signing cards that have led to mandatory payment of dues.

    The Wikipedia entry “Employee_free_choice_act” (I know, I know, but it is the most accessible resource) says this:

    Under current labor law, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board will certify a union as the exclusive representative of employees if it is elected by either a majority signature drive, the card check process, or by secret ballot NLRB election, which is held if more than 30% of employees in a bargaining unit sign statements asking for representation by a union. If enacted, this bill would require the NLRB to certify a bargaining representative without directing an election if a majority of the bargaining unit employees signed cards, the card check process.

    One more WSJ Op-Ed (published Christmas Eve, 2008 – there’s a link off of Wikipedia article cited above), this one from Richard A. Epsein, a professor of law at the University of Chicago and a visiting professor at NYU:

    The EFCA takes away the employer’s right to walk. Now the successful union, backed by direct government power — i.e., mandatory arbitration — can force itself on the firm. Yet the proposed law does not let any court block the deal or ensure that the mandated terms offer a reasonable return on its invested capital. (Even modern rent control statutes require that much.)

  78. Uniquack says:

    Let’s see: The Weekend, The 8 hour workday, a vast “middle” class with livable wages, health insurance (vs. none at all!), workplace safety and anti-discrimination laws, unemployment insurance… all that and more brought to you by unions– and specifically by courageous individuals who fought for what was right for their fellow Americans even when Pinkerton guards were shooting at them and their families and lynching union organizers (and let’s not forget Joe Hill). Imagine what this country would look like if all those things never existed.

    Oh right, actually, we’ve been seeing how life is without a strong union movement especially since about 1980. Real wages declining every year since, massive transfers of wealth to a new super rich class, deindustrialization, poverty, and finally leading to the wholesale destruction of the American economy. Americans think they live in a democracy yet spend much of their waking lives in what is essentially a form of mini-totalitarianism, their time and privacy and behavior monitored and regulated. If we are to be truly democratic, we must extend this concept into how we live in all our hours. And that also means more democratically controlled unions, not give-back boss’s unions, as has been the case through much of the later 20th century. I think the IWW is a good model, though I have know people in the more “professional” union movement– who have never worked a day in their lives in the jobs of the workers they claim to represent– who seem to disdain the chaos of such a democratic model.

    I understand that unions in the past were a product of a growing industrial economy based on expanding energy supplies– partly supported through imperial conquests in other parts of the world. Unions have always had to respond to the conditions they develop in. I think the future of unions will be as different from the past as the trade union movement was different than IWW syndicalism and the modern 20th century union movement. But unions are about the relationship of workers to capitalists, not about industrialism itself. If capitalism survives in some form into the post peak oil/post industrial economy, there will be the need for workers to organize together and exert their own counterbalancing power if life is not to be the dystopia some fear.

    Okay, all that said, I do have some qualms about the Card check bill that the unions are trying to get to a vote now. Overall, it seems necessary given the state of the movement, and the potential it could have to rectify pay inequalities across the board, bringing a surge of new income to those who would be most likely spend it locally on what they need. But in the long run, does open balloting also risk the creation of more “boss” unions that can’t be gotten rid of because of threats and fears of retaliation? It’s a concern, but the present situation is just so bad, so undermining of worker’s rights and power, that it seems necessary…
    anyway, Rahm Emmanuel is said to be backing Obama away from supporting it now, which makes sense given that he’s looking out for his own class interests first.

  79. buddy66 says:

    If those miserable pricks are a’gin it, I’m fer it.

  80. Master Gracey says:

    Asa question I wonder if unions are more effective today because of what that actually do for their members, or if they scare non-union shops into being overly generous to employees to keep the union out?

    Unions had their place in hisotry (protecting workers from corporate greed gone out of control), but I think they are most effective today as an instrument to strike fear into corporate bosses to do anything to keep them out.

    Corporations are supposed to look out for the shareholder (the story goes), and the union is supposed to look out for the worker (in theory), if both have equal sway in setting corporate policy, then I have no real problem with unions, but they way it seems today, the union comes along and says “You’ve got a nice little company here, thank you for taking all the risk and starting it and making it successful, but my friends and I just decided to bring our union into your company and half your employees signed these little cards when we asked them, so now we negotiate for all your employees. We’re your partner now, and thanks to EFCA, you can’t do anything but hope we don’t bust-out your company…

    I wouldn’t call that a fair balance of power, and with the economy tanking, how hard will it be to find employees that unhappy with their pay/benefits/etc. All it takes is half plus one, and your company is now union, and you, the “owner” have nothing to say about it.

  81. brooklyntwang says:

    @86
    “I don’t quite get this ‘they owe me’ mentality, they made an offer, you accepted it -if you want something more, either ask for it where you are or go find it elsewhere.”

    Unions are what happens when employees get together to ask for it with one voice, because they are more powerful that way. This is not a “They owe me” mentality, this is people exercising their right to organize. Now they are organizing to pass legislation that will help them even more. It’s called standing up for yourself. I am for it.

  82. Master Gracey says:

    ENOCH ROOT said:

    We bail out CITI and they buy a corporate jet because no one put restrictions on the money.

    Actually, they ordered the jet three years earlier and ultimately decided not to take delivery. From the New York Times:

    Citigroup originally said that it could not comment on its aircraft, citing security reasons. It later said that it did order the new aircraft back in 2005 as part of a plan to reduce the number of aircraft it owns and to use more fuel-efficient jets to lower ongoing operating costs.

    Citi said that refusing delivery now would result in “millions of dollars in penalties” and that it was “exploring all of its options” for its jet fleet, including a potential sale or lease of the new aircraft.

    In the end, the heat from Washington appeared to be too much for Citi to handle, and it has decided to eat the penalties.

    Yay – keep the old jets, spend more on fuel/pollute the environment, and (probably) pay millions in penalties with no new plane to show for it!

  83. normd says:

    socialism for rich corporations, free enterprise for everyone else.

  84. Master Gracey says:

    RIDAN said:

    I find the entire idea horrifying and can’t believe that we are actually contemplating this.

    With the House and Senate majotities on his side, and his promise to sign the bill when it gets to his desk, this is a done deal.

    Really, it’s not like they kept it secret during the election, but it seems it was more fun to pick on the hockey-mom Gov. of Alaska than listen to what the politicians were saying.

  85. Avram / Moderator says:

    Dreaptha @16, Man on Pink Corner @17, OhhhSnap @67 if you have substantive complaints about the EFCA, fine. If you’re just here to dump lazy insults on labor unions, not fine.

    MDH @83, I don’t know if it’s civil enough for Antinous, but it wasn’t civil enough for me. If you’re told a topic is off-limits, then the topic is off-limits.

  86. Master Gracey says:

    From the WIKILEAKS intro:

    The call shows the firms to be involved in lobbying, effectively with public money.

    This is what is troubling to me – apparently, if a company takes any bailout $, the general public/federal government gets to “approve” all expenditures by the organization, since it is effectively “public money”?

    Can a bailed-out firm actually have any money that isn’t public money? If you thought the american automakers were failures before their bailout, wait till you see what it looks like with the Federal Government helps them run their business!

  87. EH says:

    Yay – keep the old jets, spend more on fuel/pollute the environment, and (probably) pay millions in penalties with no new plane to show for it!

    And above all, take the company’s word when they describe the reasons why they wanted the jet.

  88. Brainspore says:

    …If you thought the american automakers were failures before their bailout, wait till you see what it looks like with the Federal Government helps them run their business!

    As far as I’m concerned it’s not their business anymore- it’s mine (at least in part) until they pay me back. That goes double for the banks, since they had most of my money already.

    I, for one, plan to make the best of it by taking one of those corporate jets for a spin. Maybe go to my local bank branch and snag me one of those leather executive chairs.

  89. theegor says:

    White House Staff Organizes as a Union
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, January 29, 2009; Page A01

    Robert Gibbs, President Obama’s press secretary, announced that he and Obama’s staff have initiated the process to form a union, to fight for better working conditions in the White House. They will present the notice of organization to President Obama tomorrow. Gibbs states that they hope to reach an amicable agreement with President Obama, to avoid going into binding arbitration. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) will handle the initial mediation. The FMCS is part of the Executive Branch. When asked for comment, President Obama, speaking through his press secretary Robert Gibbs, said “It’s time you had a President who honors organized labor, who’s walked on picket lines, who doesn’t choke on the word union, who lets our unions do what they do best and organize our workers.” Gibbs states that the union’s goals are to break the salary cap recently announced by President Obama, and to restrict working hours to 8-hours a day, rather than the typical 14 to 18 hour work days endured by most high-level White House staff of past administrations. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, in response, has decried the recent Employee Free Choice Act that made this unionization grab possible; he said that he has no choice but to now hire low-wage contractors to fill many pending White House positions.

  90. ab5tract says:

    @39

    Actually, if they had listened to Carter we wouldn’t be in this mess. And maybe the car companies would be making something worthwhile. (Though I have to give props to the aesthetics of the 2008 Taurus. I never knew you had it in you Ford. A lot too little way too late.)

    They’ve been fighting competition for years, and if there is one competition a company fears over all, it’s their union. I’m half afraid this is an intentional leak, a brilliant play to bring this to public consciousness and then drill more anti-union garbage into the fragile, pre-school age mind that is the American “public consciousness.”

    Ask Delorian and Tucker’s who it was that closed them down, the unions or the car companies.

  91. mightymouse1584 says:

    @5 Chris Tucker
    “Libertarian fapping in 3… 2… 1…”
    whats wrong with libertarians?

  92. Anonymous says:

    Interestingly, Rick Berman is the father of David Berman of the Silver Jews. David started a website just recently lambasting his father and his lobbying business; that was coincident with David ceasing the activities of the Silver Jews, as well.

  93. Master Gracey says:

    THEEGOR: If only it were true, but I suspect the White House staffers already drank the kool-aid and would never rise up in solidarity against inhumane working conditions and pitiful wages…

  94. brooklyntwang says:

    There are some other really good parts of the Employee Free Choice act that are at least as important as the card-check provision. But that’s what’s getting all the attention.

    People for EFCA say it will help stop the employers from intimidating workers in the period between card signing and the election. People against it say it will open the door for unions to intimidate workers into signing cards. I’m sure that there are instances of unions and employers intimidating workers in various elections, but I can’t find any actual stats on whether either case is rare or common.

    I’d have to say, given a choice between the current system and card check, and without any reliable stats to go on, I’d have to say card check is the way to go. Here’s my reasoning.

    The situaion starts when some employees decide they need a union to help them fight for better wages / benefits / safety, the contact a union, and start talking to their coworkers to build support.

    Under the current law, what happens next is:
    The employees and the union get cards signed by employees who want the union, and if they get over 30%, they can initiate a union. If more than 50% of employees signed cards, the employer can choose to recognize the union as the employee’s representative and negotiate with them (a card check election), but the employer can also call for a secret ballot election. The election can be held many months later.

    Under EFCA, if over 50% of employees signed cards, then the employer is required to recognize the union.

    So the difference is whether you have a secret election months later after the majority of employees have essentially voted for the union.

    Again, we all seem to be lacking hard stats here, but I think it would be naive to think that it was rare for companies to call for an election after a majority of workers to sign cards. The owners of companies usually don’t want unions, because they usually want the power to set wages as low as they can and offer the fewest benefits, in order to minimize labor costs. That’s the reality of capitalism. So lets assume that the majority of the time that a more than 50% of employees have signed cards, the employer will call for an election. The main reason to do this is in order to use the time before the election to convince some of the previously pro-union employees to change their minds. I can’t think of any ways for an employer to do this that aren’t intimidating. Anything coming from your employer about what “might happen to you” or to the company sounds like a threat. And I bet that most employers won’t try to hard not to sound intimidating, it probably helps. The more they can hint that you will lose your job the more they can scare employees into not voting for the union. Corporations have have plenty to threaten employees with, without doing anything they can be legally liable for.

    On the other hand, if unions can get recognized automatically once a majority of workers sign cards, the is an incentive there to intimidate workers to sign cards. I’m sure this happens sometimes as it is. But what do unions intimidate with? Sure they could bring in a thug and threaten to beat you up, and it’s probably happened some, but it really can’t be a major strategy of theirs. Assault is just too obvious, it would often backfire by getting the union busted, getting them bad press, etc. I’m not saying it would never happen, but I really can’t suspend my skepticism that it would be exceedingly rare. Aside from physical threats, what would the intimidation be? Not sure. Taunting? Also, it seems to me that the union has a pretty easy sell anyway – unionized wokers make higher wages and get more benefits. They have more legal protections and more safety.

    So I would infer, just guessing based on these observations, that in the case of a majority of employees signing cards but an employer calling for an election, that intimidation by employers is somewhat common. And if EFCA passed, in the case of card check recognition, that union intimidation would exist, but be somewhat rare. So I think it’s a good deal to trade somewhat common intimidation for somewhat rare intimidation, and in the bargain get higher wages and more benefits for more employees who need them.

  95. brooklyntwang says:

    The EFCA would only take away the secret ballot in cases where a majority of employees already signed cards saying they want the union, and employees did not request a secret ballot.

    The only right it is taking away is the right of employers to force employees to have a secret ballot election after a majority of them have already signed cards saying they want the union to represent them.

  96. dragonfrog says:

    @ GRIMC

    You think this forms adequate protection against coercion?

    The Employee Free Choice Act allows employees to choose a secret ballot process to elect union representation if they do not desire a card check election, but employers are required to accept whichever method employees choose.

    Try this substituted form:

    The American Free Choice Act allows American voters to choose a secret ballot process to decide Electoral College members for any given state if they do not desire a card check election, but the federal government is required to accept whichever method a state’s voters choose.

    Just because a majority of Oklahomans think it’s a good idea to be able to intimidate their neighbours, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

    How would you feel if you were stuck between a rock and a hard place at work? Great, most of your colleagues have friendly managers who probably won’t take reprisals if they vote pro-union, and they trust the union reps they’ve met not to take reprisals if they vote anti-union. But you, yourself, have a petty anti-union manager, and you don’t trust the union reps. Now the majority of your colleagues have chosen a card-signature vote (how exactly? show of hands? card-signatures vote?)…

    Now, I don’t need to make the point that there are far more cases of abusive pressure by employers than by unions or pro-union fellow employees. But why choose either?

  97. dragonfrog says:

    @ RIDL

    Great, workers are regaining their freedom to stand in solidarity.

    Can you, or anyone, explain to me how a secret ballot process didn’t allow that freedom?

  98. Lysy404 says:

    This thread is hopping! I’m not going to join the fray but state one, perhaps not so obvious fact:
    union rules of seniority are their downfall. Union employees are not accountable for their job performance, just for how long they manage to hang on to the job. This promotes inefficient companies and eventually they fail to non-union competitors – not strictly for higher wages mind you, but mostly for being inefficient! So you have these union employee loosers that could not care less for the company, doing nothing and getting paid outrageous $$!

    So if you think that high benefits @ Big 3 , +2x the rates of other car mfr, is not a big problem than you have another thing coming. Higher wages can be sustained only if the workers are more productive but union rules are not allowing for that.

    The seniority rules are there to protect union management and union existence.
    Union, while beneficial in 20th century, is a waste nowadays.

  99. Nadreck says:

    #46 – Hey! I hope you actually mean “Fruit Flavoured Drink”. As the defamation lawsuit made clear: there was no actual evidence that actual Kool-Aid brand drink was purchased by Jim Jones.

    For those wondering what America would look like without unions the answer is easy: look at Russia now or China in a few years. Without a union level release for the social pressure built up by the extreme abuse of the workers by the mindlessly greedy (“Oh! You actually want to be *paid* for your work!! Bwah-ha-ha!”) the communists take over in an orgy of spilt blood. The first one’s “up against the wall” when the revolution are the Fat Cats who could have been saved if they had been forced through the rule of law and democratic organisations such as unions to give an ounce of respect or a penny of wages to their serfs.

    Next up are anybody trying to organise a union. The communists know that unions are their most deadly enemy and no communist regime will tolerate them. Remember that communist regimes are top-down, totalitarian states run for the benefit of the communist aristocracies at the top*. A union, at least in theory, is run from the bottom up and will oppose stupid decisions dumped on the workers from the clouds like collective agriculture or the extensive use of slave labour. One of the first things that Lenin and Trotsky did was to slaughter everyone in the Sailor’s Union in Kronstadt.

    Then everyone else who might have any power or influence outside the party gets the bullet to the head. Now you have a single-point-of-failure system because all that’s left is one single bureaucracy and one single set of decision makers. Ask any engineer about the stability of single-point-of-failure systems. Ask any network technician about the information distortion in a system where every datum at the bottom has to go all the way to the top and then all the way to the bottom through 20 levels to be acted upon . (Digression – the government of the Victorian Empire had 7 levels, including Queen Victoria, and there were many multiple other centers of power in that society).

    After the collapse by incompetence everybody crawls out of the wreckage and looks around for some other system. Hilariously they often choose the cartoon-caricature version of capitalism of their old propaganda that never really existed in the West: for one thing religion had as much, if not more, influence on society than the technological and economic systems had. Capitalist economies sit on top of liberal political and religious systems, not the other way around as the identical-twin, hide-bound dogmatists of the Left/Right would have it. A capitalist economy that’s not part of that social ecology turns into the actual nightmare that was originally just a dream of communist propagandists.

    Doubtless that will get kicked over by some new, stupid, anti-intellectual, demagogic system until some unions survive to stabilise things.

    In brief, no unions- no civilisation as we know it. (The only other viable system that allows a reasonable level of technology is the Chinese Empire model. Your typical Dynasty lasts for about 300 years and then dies HARD.) If I was some business guy I’d get down on my hands and knees every morning and Thank God for the unions of yesteryear. They’re the only reason any businessmen working for themselves can exist except as dead bodies piled up in a ditch.

    * Ok, there are exceptions to everything. I’ll admit that the Cuban and Vietnamese regimes aren’t quite like that but they both had the “advantage” of US military and economic opposition to keep them honest. They’re just boutique branches of the main horror shows in Asia and Eastern Europe though.

  100. mdh says:

    Avram – I must have missed where it was off limits. I read Antinous’ comment as a dare to insult a libertarian without hitting below the belt or name calling. I did try to keep it low key.

    Master Gracey – You may not have meant to come across the way you did, but I read it that way. Your clarification prevents me from apologizing for offending you. Every employee IS a stakeholder. If you can’t see that, well, it explains your poor view of labor. Sir, you get what you pay for.

  101. Man On Pink Corner says:

    #101

    You mean the US economy that is having it’s second great depression of the twentieth century?

    Compared to what happens south of the border? I’m not seeing much room for complaint here, sorry.

  102. brooklyntwang says:

    Notes from the House Committee on Eduation and Labor:

    MYTH: The Employee Free Choice Act abolishes the National Labor Relations Board’s “secret ballot” election process.

    FACT: The Employee Free Choice Act does not abolish the National Labor Relations Board election process. That process would still be available under the Employee Free Choice Act. The legislation simply enables workers to also form a union through majority sign-up if a majority prefers that method to the NLRB election process. Under current law, workers may only use the majority sign-up process if their employer agrees. The Employee Free Choice Act would make that choice – whether to use the NLRB election process or majority sign-up – a majority choice of the employees, not the employer.

    MYTH: The Employee Free Choice Act will increase intimidation and harassment by labor unions against workers.

    FACT: Research has found that coercion and pressure actually drop – from both sides – when workers form a union through a majority sign-up process. Beyond this, harassment by unions is not the problem. In a study of a more than 60-year period, the Human Resources Policy Association listed 113 NLRB cases which they claimed involved union deception and/or coercion in obtaining authorization card signatures. Careful examination of those cases, however, reveals that union misconduct was found in only 42 of those 113 claimed cases. By contrast, in 2005 alone, over 30,000 workers received back pay from employers that illegally fired or otherwise discriminated against them for their union activities.

    MYTH: The Employee Free Choice Act would require a secret ballot election in order for workers to get rid of a union.

    FACT: Under current law, if an employer has evidence, such as cards or a petition, that a majority of workers no longer supports the union, then the employer is required by law to withdraw recognition of the union and stop bargaining, without an election, unless an election is pending. Under current law, the employer can and must withdraw recognition unilaterally, without the consent of the NLRB. The Employee Free Choice Act would not change this.

    MYTH: The Employee Free Choice Act would require “public” union card signings.

    FACT: Under current law, employees must sign cards or petitions to show their support for a union in order to obtain an election. And, under current law, when an employer agrees to a majority sign-up process, employees must sign cards to show the union’s majority status. Signing a card under the Employee Free Choice Act is no different from these card signings under current law. The union authorization card under the Employee Free Choice Act is treated no differently than a petition for election or a card under a majority sign-up agreement. As with petitions for an election, under the Employee Free Choice Act, the National Labor Relations Board would receive the cards and determine their validity.

  103. andyhavens says:

    “…an existential threat to American capitalism.”

    Can’t have that.

    As opposed to the complete unhinging of the world’s financial markets. Which was caused by rampant greed and epic shortsightedness. Which are “non-existential threats” to American capitalism.

    I look forward to further existential threats to my job, health care, environment, education, etc. Just, please… no more real ones.

  104. Zandr says:

    @15:
    Yes, that’s exactly what it’s saying. And if you can’t tell the difference, you’re part of the problem. Both unions and politicians have done great things, and become corrupt. Sadly, that’s reality.

    @49:
    And that’s precisely the problem. The reason Card Check hasn’t been a huge source of coercion so far is that the secret ballot was always there as a check and balance.

    Now, nobody bothers showing up at your door with Bubba, because they know if they coerce everyone into signing, they’ll lose the secret ballot. Take that away, and it’s open season.

    The unions have done great things in the past. I’m not going to argue that. But all of my recent contact with unions have suggested that they may have outlived their usefulness.

    It used to be that the union’s side of the bargain was training and quality control; if you hired union, you know you got someone competent. Now, it seems like if you hire union, you get someone who knows their job is safe no matter how badly they screw up.

  105. mdh says:

    Master Gracey also, I called you a libertarian, lower case, because I feel you are. I don’t intend it to be a dirty word, just trying to hang a label on your viewpoint. Capital L would denote the political party, and that is a different discussion, one which we definitely are not having here.

    To summarize my arguments. Management used to be able to own their employees. Then they had to free them. Then they had to stop whipping them. Then came the weekend. Then a minimum wage. Then they had to stop employing children. Then they had to pay into a socialist national retirement system, then they had to pay women fairly.

    at some point crying poor rings as true as cries that the sky is falling… and that’s all I hear in opposition to this bill.

    Once again, the sky is falling.

    You should get out while the getting is good. It’s gonna keep falling.

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