This past Wednesday, November 13, 2013, the United States Supreme Court heard the initial arguments in the case Unite Here Local 355 vs. Mulhall. The case of Mulhall, a 40-year employee of Mardi Gras in Hollywood, Florida, challenged the use of a Neutrality Agreement by Unite Here to force unionize Mardi Gras employees. A Neutrality Agreement eliminates the preferred standard of use of “secret ballot elections” to determine if employees want union representation, and in its place, institutes the insidious process known as Card Check. The focus of Mulhall is whether a signed Neutrality Agreement was lawfully obtained from Mardi Gras without bribery or extortion by Unite Here, which is prohibited by Section 302 of the Labor Management Relations Act. Unite Here contends the signatures were lawfully obtained, because no money changed hands; however, Mardi Gras and Mulhall believe there were direct benefits or “consideration” received in exchange for the signed agreement.
Unfortunately, after reading the transcripts of the oral arguments made by the attorney for Respondent Mulhall, it appears he has overreached. Perhaps most disappointing, counsel’s arguments did not succinctly and in “plain language” expose the extortion tactics utilized by Unite Here to force Mardi Gras to sign the Neutrality Agreement. These actions resulted in the use of Card Check to force unionize Mardi Gras employees. The attorney appeared to overreach when he suggested that the law bans all pre-recognition agreements whether obtained through mutual agreement or extortion. Additionally, his argument as to whether a benefit was received by the union and/or the employer solely revolved around the union’s support of a gaming license for Mardi Gras. He glossed over the true argument for rescinding the agreement, the use of extortion by the union, which ultimately provided benefits that could be quantified monetarily for both parties. Instad of hitting a home run, his argument resulted in a Mixed Reaction From the Justices. This was a missed opportunity to expose big labor’s ruthless tactics for what they are, coercive forms of extortion from which both parties benefit.
Further, the attorney missed the opportunity to elaborate on the devastating affects that Corporate Campaigns and Death by a Thousand Cuts strategies imposed by big labor have on an employer. Corporate Campaigns take advantage of a National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) loophole, allowing unions to circumvent the secret ballot election when there is mutual agreement of recognition by the union and the employer. The key word being mutual. Webster’s Dictionary defines mutual as, “Something shared in common…” — such as mutual respect. The use of Corporate Campaigns against employers, through use of the misnamed “Neutrality Agreement,” to eliminate the secret ballot election is anything but mutual and certainly does not involve respect. In fact, the most striking thing about the Neutrality Agreement is its utter lack of neutrality. The “agreement” is forced upon employers by big labor threats. Upon entering the agreement, employers are forced into a “card check” scenario, and in return, receives the agreement of the labor union not to make good on its threats.
Corporate Campaigns, as described in my first book, The Devil at My Doorstep, are designed to financially and psychologically cripple an employer, coercing the employer into capitulating and signing the one-sided Neutrality Agreement. Corporate campaigns are ruthless wars waged against unsuspecting employers by big labor bosses who have decided the employer is a financial target, not because of employee abuses, but rather because of the potential membership dues and big payday for big labor. Corporate campaigns are initiated on the disingenuous premise that the employees have invited them to town. This is rarely true. The unions are often nothing more than Uninvited Interlopers, whose services have not been requested by any employee of the organization.
The preceding recital of the intent of Corporate Campaigns and the resulting benefits for both unions and employers, supplemented by real life stories of such coercion (such as those chronicled in The Devil at Our Doorstep), overwhelmingly proves that extortion and bribery regularly exist within these attacks by big labor. The Supreme Court needs to grasp that Corporate Campaigns are vicious scams designed to “shame” employers into signing the Neutrality Agreement The extreme costs incurred in avoiding such campaigns overwhelmingly prove a benefit for both parties just as it does in the Mulhall case. My company would have saved almost $1 Million dollars in attorney, operational and other associated costs, while the SEIU would have not only saved the costs in prosecuting the campaign against my company, but would have been the beneficiary of dues collected from the forced unionization of thousands of employees in a relatively short period of time.
Employees and employers across the country can only hope the Justices do their due diligence in the Unite Here Local 355 vs. Mulhall case, and outlaw the imposition of the so-called Neutrality Agreement, benefiting both parties through Organizing by Extortion. The U.S. Supreme Court Has An Opportunity to Protect Fundamental Freedoms and set the future course for true, voluntary union recognition for all employees. Their decision will serve to protect workers like Martin Mulhall, because until they do, big labor bosses will not take no for an answer.
David A. Bego is the President and CEO of EMS, an industry leader in the field of environmental workplace maintenance, employing nearly 5000 workers in thirty-three states. Bego is the author of “The Devil at My Doorstep,” as well as the just released sequel, “The Devil at Our Doorstep,” based on his experiences fighting back against one of the most powerful unions in existence today.