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Unions and Fundamental Freedoms: Two Upcoming U.S. Supreme Court Cases

The U. S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases in the next year which will determine whether persons will be protected in their exercise of the fundamental right to either choose whether to engage in union representation or to abstain from such representation, and to make such decision absent intimidation from either the union or their employer via the secret ballot election — the same process we use to elect our local, state and federal government officials. Interestingly, both cases stem from the President’s attempt to provide political payback to his allies in Big Labor through the Rogue NLRB.

In the first case, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide if the President acted unconstitutionally when he made several recess appointments to the agency charged with oversight of labor-management disputes, the National Labor Relations Board. The lower courts, culminating in the U.S. Third Court of Appeals both found the appointments unconstitutional (see Supreme Court to Consider Obama Recess Appointments and Appeals Court Nixed Obama’s Recess Appointments). This case not only has important implications concerning the further shredding of our constitution  through ignoring the tenant of the separation of powers of the branches of government by appointing his nominees without review and agreement by the legislative branch.

In the case of the NLRB, the Obama appointees seek to achieve Card Check through Regulation vs. Legislation. Simply put, the goal is to eliminate employees’ rights to a secret ballot election and replace it with Card Check as the means for employees to determine if they wish union representation. If you listened to the Administration’s and Big Labor’s rhetoric, what could be more simple and fair? Unfortunately, it is a process of coercion and intimidation as chronicled in The Devil at Our Doorstep. A process aptly named Death by a Thousand Cuts, which forces employers and employees to capitulate and be subjected to the terms of the so called Neutrality Agreement through ruthless Corporate Campaigns. The so-called “neutrality agreement” is hardly neutral and subjects both the employees and the employer to labor intimidation.

The second case involves a question of the validity of Big Labor’s sacred cow, the aforementioned Neutrality Agreement (see BNA – Supreme Court Agrees to Review LMRA Case Involving Section 302, Neutrality Agreement). To appreciate this case and its relevance, one must understand why this agreement is so important to big labor. As documented in previous blogs, unions have been on a steady decline since 1947 when Congress, following more than a decade of union corruption, passed the Taft-Hartley Act. Of the many important provisions of the Act, perhaps none was more so than the guarantee of the secret ballot election which, for all intents and purposes, eliminated card check.

Since its peak prior to passage of the Taft-Hartley Act, union membership has dropped from approximately 35-40% of the workforce to a low of 11.3% today. Statistics gathered by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, included a drop of approximately 400,000 members in the last year alone. Big Labor, realizing its imminent demise, understands it must reinstate card check to survive and is relying on the President and his rogue NLRB to allow them to exploit a little known and hidden clause in the Taft-Hartley Act that allows unions and employers to mutually agree to representation through card check. Unfortunately, it is very rarely an agreement achieved through mutual consent. It is predominantly achieved by Big Labor through outright intimidation of employers and employees. What is interesting about this particular case is that it has been brought by an employee disgusted with the intimidation and the fact he believes his rights to a secret ballot election and protection of privacy have been violated.

One thing certain about these cases is that the justices of the Supreme Court will receive a tremendous amount of pressure from the Administration and its Big Labor buddies to overturn the decisions of the lower courts. The Gasping Dinosaurs, already headed toward extinction, understand all to well that if these decisions are upheld it will be the end of Big Labor as we know it in this country (see If ruling goes Against Labor Union, Organizing Could Get Even Harder). Additionally, the President and his party know all to well they need Big Labor’s financial and ground support to continue to win elections, as well as increase their grip on and expand an already oversized government.

Even more frightening for the future of the United States is what could occur if these decisions are overturned. If they are, the current administration will feel empowered to continue to appoint radical people to high positions, not just in the NLRB, but all areas of government. If they can eliminate the secret ballot election for union recognition and trample on the constitution to appoint government officials how long will it be before they expand these programs to every corner of the government? Can you imagine no secret ballot elections to determine our government officials and instead all being appointed by the President?  These are landmark cases.

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.

Big Labor Opposes Employee Incentives

Control.  It is the most pressing priority for the leadership of Big Labor. They need to control the masses, and in order to do that they most control the terms of employment, and they must control the benefits of employment. For this reason, the Big Labor bosses oppose employee incentive raises. They create discord and jealousy, and thus, the union’s ability to control its membership.  But such incentives also create ambition, initiative, and increased productivity.  While important to the employer, these traits are potentially damaging to the union. Complacency, mediocrity and sameness benefit the union, as the results are that it takes more employees to produce the end product, translating into more union members and more union dues, which is the ultimate objective.

As has been documented in previous blogs, unions have been on a steady decline since 1947 when Congress, following more than a decade of union corruption, passed the Taft-Hartley Act. Of the many important provisions of the Act, perhaps none was more so than the guarantee of the secret ballot election which, for all intents and purposes, eliminated Card Check.  Since its peak, union membership has dropped from approximately 35-40% of the workforce to a low of 11.3% today. Per statistics gathered by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, included in this trend is a drop of approximately 400,000 members in the last year alone.

It is no surprise then that the Big Labor bosses are opposed to any initiatives that would, in their minds, result in decreased membership and would eliminate traditional union “selling points.”  Characterization of ambition and incentive has often been that such persons are “being taken advantage of” or “overworked,” and that such companies are “sweat shops.” These traditional arguments, however, do not necessarily reflect the truth of the modern work environment, and the protections of our modern laws.  At one time unions served an important purpose in defending employee rights. However, Big Labor has fallen victim to the money, lifestyle and political power realized from increased union membership, and has lost their way and forgot their responsibility was to serve the membership and not vice-versa. Their greed, inability or resistance to compete in a free market society, and the advent of government agencies such as the NLRB, EEOC, and DOL unions in effect became obsolete.

Facing extinction, Big Labor has yet to face reality and change its model to one that truly benefits productive employees and its membership in general. Instead they continue to attempt to impose their outdated and ineffective tactics of control, intimidation, coercion, and misinformation in a frantic effort to survive. Instead, they continue to wish to return to the days of Card Check where they forcibly unionize employees then keep them under their thumbs by negotiating oppressive contracts that control employee rights instead of expanding them. They firmly believe this outdated approach is their only means of rebuilding their once vast empire.

Unfortunately for American employees, Big Labor does not realize time has passed them by; that the United States is a republic, not a socialistic country where people are controlled and herded like sheep. Hence Big Labor’s propensity to control and promote sameness at every juncture, and to prevent businesses from doing the right thing by rewarding productive employees through incentive programs, which drives American Exceptionalism  by rewarding those who are the most productive, safe, innovative, and cost-effective team players. This philosophy is illustrated by Big Labor bosses like Andy Stern (see The Drama Queen is at it Again), who were never successful in the free market, because they lacked the exact attributes they strive to suppress. They admittedly only became successful when they became part of an environment where they could use the Persuasion of Power  over employees and employers to achieve their goals. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumpka summed it up succinctly in a speech this past week when the bellicose mouthpiece of the AFL-CIO, confirmed the Big Labor survival doctrine: “forget the workers – focus on politics.” This statement tells you everything you need to know about Big Labor’s agenda and why we need Congress to pass laws to allow employers and government agencies restrained by outdated collective bargaining agreements to incentivize employees.