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Beware Ambush Elections

The U.S. Senate HELP Committee recently contacted me about my experience with labor elections and my insight about how this ruling would harm businesses and employees across the country. This week, the points expressed in my original blog and documented in The Devil at Our Doorstep will be debated and voted upon, as reported in recent headlines “Republican-Controlled Congress to Vote to Repeal NLRB Rule.” Additionally, in a show of support the US Chamber Asks Judge To Nix NLRB’s Election Rule. Hopefully, Senate Democrats will stand behind movement, recognize the injustice, and provide enough votes to override an expected Presidential veto.

Employees and employers across the country need to be wary of the forced union ambush being promulgated by President Obama and his big labor “Gasping Dinosaurs” and the radicals the President has appointed at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The President is utilizing Rule by Fiat to fundamentally transform America as he promised when he was first elected, while also paying back his political supporters.

NLRB Flexes Muscles” was definitely the theme this past week as the NLRB published its final rule making on “ambush elections,” and effectively reduced election periods from 41 to 21 days or potentially less (see Ambush,NLRB boosts unions’ organizing leverage, Elections, NLRB Issues its Ambush Election Rule, NLRB Representation Case Procedures Fact Sheet, Quickie Gifts to Big Labor, and NAM CEO Speaks Out ON NLRB Ruling). Even more damaging to both employees’ and employers’ rights and privacy is the fact that, in its rule making, the NLRB stated that employers must provide the names, e-mail addresses, home addresses and phone numbers of its employees to facilitate the “Quickie Elections.“ As described in The Devil at Our Doorstep, the current 41 day pre-election period is necessary, as employees are often coerced, intimidated and lied to by the organizers representing the labor unions. Often they are misled to believe that once they sign a union election card they must vote for the union when they go to the polls! While absolutely false, such conduct has been well established by the NLRB to be completely acceptable.

Unless the employer’s management team is well-versed on labor law and well-prepared to contradict these misrepresentations, their employees would never know the truth. The Quickie Elections rule making makes it virtually impossible for an employer to have the opportunity to refute the union’s misinformation and propaganda, particularly if the employer has not been faced with such organizing efforts in the past. In my own experience, if I would not have had the opportunity to meet and speak with our employees on several occasions — which would not be possible under the new ruling — they would have gone to the polls believing they had to vote for the union, despite the fact they had been intimidated into signing election cards.

As if that wasn’t enough, the NLRB boosts unions’ organizing leverage by allowing employees and union organizers access to employers e-mail systems so they can coerce, misinform, intimidate and misrepresent the truth about what is transpiring, and ignore big labor’s true goal, that It’s All About the Dues Money. In effect, what is happening is a rapid move towards “Card Check,” effectively allowing a union to force unionize an employer’s workforce behind the scenes virtually overnight.

These Quickie Gifts to Big Labor by the NLRB are A Death Penalty for Employees and Employers! They provide labor organizers great leverage to force employers to sign a Neutrality Agreement. This agreement is big labor’s current means of eliminating the secret ballot election by utilizing Death by a Thousand Cuts corporate campaigns to intimidate employers into signing it and achieving Card Check.

These actions are nothing more than political pay back by this Administration to the big labor bosses at the expense of the American people and the American economy.

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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.

Unions Adopting New Strategies to Rebuild Membership

Big Labor bosses are facing the increasing realization that their organizations are rapidly facing extinction. A trifecta of difficulties, consisting of recent revelations of the impact Obamacare will have on union costs and membership, the weakening of support for “Card Check” legislation, and the increasing popularity and passage of “Right-to-Work” laws have the Gasping Dinosaurs very nervous. Union membership is at a 50-year low, representing a mere 11.3% of the total workforce and 6.7% of the private workforce. These statistics have Big Labor bosses fighting mad at the lack of return from their campaign investments for the President and desperate enough to attempt any and all options to rebuild declining membership.

With the exception of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents healthcare workers across the country and anticipates membership gains from the implementation of Obamacare, Big Labor bosses representing other unions now realize that their once-beloved President has sold them down the river (see The Devil is in the Details: Buyer’s Remorse over Obamacare, Except for SEIU).  The heads of the AFL-CIO, the Teamsters, and other major labor unions are now realizing that not only is Obamacare void of separate exemptions or favorable provisions for unions, but it places unions at an economic disadvantage when organizing new members. In fact, it is so bad that the Teamsters are Begging Congress for Relief from Obamacare and the Laborers International Union Fears Destructive Consequences from Obamacare. Even the President-friendly IRS Employees Union Members are in an Uproar after realizing that they too will be subject to Obamacare. The President may continue his rhetoric to intimidate Republicans and to push for Obamacare to become functional, but he does so at the risk of losing his most ardent supporters.

The next likely disappointment for the unions is that the President has failed to enact Card Check. Despite that the President’s recent radical appointees to the NLRB were approved by the U.S. Senate and the fact that President Obama Brought in Griffin to Fill Vacant NLRB Position, the Rogue NLRB still faces an uphill battle if they plan to achieve card check.  See “Card Check through Regulation vs. Legislation.”  President Obama previously attempted to achieve card check like provisions through his appointment of board members such as Craig Becker and Richard Griffin.  With the courts finding the President’s recess appointments to be unconstitutional, and thus their decisions invalidated, a delay in “union handouts” has resulted in further union membership deterioration and caused the Unions to Demand Payback.

Interestingly, this has resulted in an attempt by Big Labor to enforce desperate and creative measures to increase membership. The AFL-CIO Seeks Answers in Crisis by targeting Hispanics, NAACP, Sierra Club and other groups, and by Winning Back Other Unions into their fold, thereby increasing membership, revenues and power.  Not to be outdone, the Desperate SEIU Resurrected the Persuasion of Power and is leading the charge by attempting to organize Home Health Care Workers and immigrants as discussed in the recent blog The Senate Immigration Law Hurts All Americans.  Additionally, a new Worker Center Scheme crafted by the SEIU is in the works, utilizing organizations outside the auspices of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to attract and organize prospective members, which could be devastating to businesses attacked by these type organizations.

Meanwhile, the SEIU has once again embraced the Living Wage Argument to unionize workers. This tactic, described in The Devil at Our Doorstep, is now being used against McDonalds and other service/food providers under the veil of the “Fight for Fifteen” campaign, fighting to shift wage rates to $15 an hour for these workers.  McDonald’s is now feeling pressure from the typical Corporate Campaign tactics, including threats to Contaminate Food. These threats will directly impact McDonald’s revenues, a standard focal point of the SEIU’s campaigns.  Of course, all of their actions are being pushed in the name of Social Justice.

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.

One Man’s Fight Against Union Power

Entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley should pay close attention to the experiences of Dave Bego, the Indiana businessman who started a company from scratch. By 2006, after years of unrelenting toil and sacrifice by Bego and his family, Executive Management Services, Inc. (EMS) had expanded into 38 states and had 5,000 employees. Bego now had something so valuable it became an attractive target for unionization.

Bego’s story, which he has written about in two books and has turned into a one-man information crusade, is not unique. But his decision to fight back is very unusual, and his account of how his company was targeted has gone largely unreported. The details of his fight reveal a frightening lack of legal protection for company owners and their workers from union intimidation, as well as a dated, shamelessly abused set of exemptions shielding over-zealous union organizers from legal sanctions. A UnionWatch article from December 2012, “The Special Privileges And Exemptions of Public Sector Unions,” references several compilations of how unions escape many of the laws that govern the rest of us, but hearing about what actually happened to Dave Bego makes it far less academic.

It is conventional to assume that if somebody is critical of a union’s tactics, they must be anti-union. But even Dave Bego, who fought the SEIU for years, believes that unions have a legitimate role to play in a capitalist democracy. Because Bego, in an ad placed in the Indianapolis Star, offered to hold a secret ballot election among the employees to decide whether or not they wished union representation. As stated publicly in this ad: “EMS is very willing to let its employees vote in a secret ballot election conducted by the federal government to decide whether they want to be members of your union or not… we have encouraged you to seek an election since your first contact with EMS” (view EMS ad).

The problem unions have with a secret ballot election, apparently, is that the union might lose. When union representatives met with Dave Bego, and during all of their subsequent campaign of pressure and intimidation, what they wanted him to do was sign a “neutrality agreement” (view actual neutrality agreement presented to Bego). Here are highlights of what a neutrality agreement does:

  • The employer shall not “take any action or make any statement that will directly or indirectly state any opposition by Employer to the election by its Employees of a collective bargaining agent.”
  • The employer will sign a letter provided by the union, and distribute this letter to all employees, that is “assuring Employees of Employer’s neutrality in the matter of their union organizing.”
  • “Employer shall provide within five (5) business days a list of the names and addresses of all Employees within classifications subject to this Agreement.”
  • “…union will then present Employer with signed authorization cards or a petition memorializing individual Employees’ desire to be represented by Union for purposes of collective bargaining.”
  • Once the union has submitted union authorization cards from 50% of the employees, if management cannot come to terms with the union during the collective bargaining process, they must submit to binding arbitration.

What a neutrality agreement does is enforce the process known as “card check,” whereby instead of voting in a secret election whether or not employees want union representation, the union organizers gather individual signatures on consent forms. Armed with the home addresses of every single employee, the union has three years to target individuals, one by one, until 50% of them sign the card. This process, currently only legal if and when an employer signs a neutrality agreement, would become law of the land if the union-supported, misleadingly named “Employee Free Choice Act” ever becomes federal law.

Because the unions wanted Bego to sign a neutrality agreement, he refused on principle, because doing so would have denied his employees the right to a secret ballot election. That’s when the troubles started.

As summarized in Bego’s book, “The Devil at Our Doorstep,” the SEIU embarked upon a campaign of persuasion that relied on laws designed to give unions an advantage over employers. Here are some examples of rules that impose double standards on the conduct of unions vs. employers during union organizing campaigns:

  • The “Persuader Rule,” which requires employers to publicly disclose all relationships with outside firms who may assist them to resist unionization. Not only are unions exempt from this rule, but because most employers have never encountered a union campaign before, they have no choice but to solicit outside advice on the legal issues as well as on how to effectively communicate with their employees. This rule gives the unions an opportunity to then attack anyone consulting with the employer.
  • The “Posting Rule” requires employers to post union provided printed material in their workplace, saying, for example, that all employees have the right to unionize – with contact information. But the employer does not have the right to post anything reminding employees that they are not compelled to vote for unionization.
  • Rules prohibiting “Interrogation,” or “Promising,” meaning an employer cannot meet with employees during a union campaign and ask them (i.e., “interrogate” them) what is wrong, or what can be done to improve work conditions. Similarly, during a union campaign an employer cannot remedy work conditions; that is “promising.”
  • Unions are exempt in many states from laws that make stalking an individual a crime, as well as laws that make many forms of extortion a crime.

In order to hold a secret election, the union has to get 30% of a company’s employees to sign a petition asking for a vote. To do this, their operatives approached EMS employees – over and over – on their way to work, in the parking lots, and sometimes even followed them home. They enlisted the support of local clergy, who organized blockades of buildings where Bego’s employees worked. Because EMS provides contract janitorial services, the unions organized demonstrations outside these buildings, intimidating the building owners in an attempt to get them to change vendors. They sent letters to the press and to EMS clients alleging “unfair labor practices” which in most if not all cases were without merit. Indeed, in November 2007, EMS filed a set of counter-charges (view EMS Unfair Labor Practice Charges Against SEIU), and in the subsequent NLRB hearing the ruling was in favor of EMS. Even the NLRB felt the union had gone too far.

These “corporate campaigns” occur every day across America. Most employers cannot withstand the pressure from the unions. At one point, the union campaign against EMS included enlisting children on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating in Bego’s neighborhood, and after being given candy, they gave each resident a union flyer:

While Bego has managed to successfully fight the SEIU, at least so far, most people can’t stand up to the intimidation that appears to be standard procedure for unions who operate a corporate campaign. Not only the company owners, but their family, their employees, their suppliers, and their customers face harassment. Sometimes this harassment escalates into vandalism and violence, with laws in place that create for unions a higher threshold before such acts become criminal. But the unions are lobbying for even more laws to assist them in their corporate campaigns. For example:

  • Unions have now won the right to form “micro-unions,” where they can carve out small groups of employees and hold a union election. If a union can’t get 30% of an entire retail store to sign cards calling for an election, they can now get 30% of the employees in one department of that store to sign the card, and an election will be held for that particular department.
  • Unions are pushing to lower the time period between when cards are submitted requesting an election from 48 days to 18 days; the so-called “Quick Elections” rule. This creates a significant advantage for the unions, because it takes time to communicate to employees that they are not compelled to vote for unionization. Many employees who have signed cards calling for an election believe that they are required to vote for unionization because they signed the card requesting the election.
  • Legalizing the “Card check” method of unionization, via the perennially introduced “Employee Free Choice Act,” would enforce the terms of a neutrality agreement on employers without their consent. Unions could then approach employees individually until they collected signatures from 50% of the workforce, eliminating the secret election ballot.

Eliminating unfair union advantages, currently built into federal law, would not necessarily eliminate unions. In a recent speech at an event sponsored by the Heritage Foundation (view speech – begins at 5:40), Bego emphasized that some workplaces probably would benefit from unionization. But unions must play by the same rules as the companies they negotiate with, employees should have a right to a secret ballot in elections concerning unions, and nobody should be forced to join a union.

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs come from a variety of ideological leanings, but it is accurate to state that most of them support Democratic political candidates. Perhaps this, combined with their extraordinary personal wealth, blinds them to the agenda of unions, despite the fact that public sector unions already control California’s state and most of its local governments and their unsustainable financial demands are contributing to the insolvency of those institutions.

If the Silicon Valley business elite want to maintain control of the companies they founded, and preserve the vitality of the new industries they helped create, they should take a careful look at the proper role of unions in 21st century America. Because the rules governing unions and union organizing are at a tipping point. If union-friendly legislation continues to emanate from Washington D.C., and Sacramento, the Silicon Valley may find itself on the front lines of a battle for which they are entirely unprepared.

Fiscal Realists Must Publicly Identify Public Sector Unions as the Core Problem

Often during talk radio interviews I am asked, “Who is The Devil at Our Doorstep, is it the SEIU?” I love the question, because it provides the opportunity to explain that the “devil” in my book is actually a coalition of groups from the liberal left. This includes groups such as Media Matters, liberal Democrats, remnants of ACORN, environmentalists, and of course, Big Labor. The collective agenda of these groups is the taking of American freedoms. People are immediately surprised as they surmise that the book is only about unions and the tactics they utilize to force unionize employees and employers in an attempt to stave off their own extinction. Most are appalled when they find that the ultimate objective of this coalition, which includes powerful factions within the Democratic Party and even some Republicans, extending all the way to the White House, is to fundamentally shift America away from a capitalist free market economy and towards a socialist economy.

These groups rely on power and control, and with their Big Labor allies providing funding through massive donations using money generated from members’ dues, they continue to remain in power and avoid extinction. In return, the Big Labor bosses need the politicians to make sure they procure sweetheart government collective bargaining agreements and favorable laws and regulations to advance union growth.

These groups are parasitic, living off of forced membership dues submitted to unions who, in turn, utilize these monies to elect politicians, who then pass laws, propose new regulations, reverse decisions and issue Executive Orders. All of this benefits the group and allows them to collect more money and to gain power. In effect, it is a circular money pump that allows the parasite to survive off the host, i.e. the American people. Americans have not awakened to the fact that this group is taking advantage of them and is propelling the future of this great country towards destruction. This is the destiny that President John F. Kennedy initiated with an Executive Order in 1962, allowing unionization of public employees.

The Republican Party refuses to recognize that the rules of the game have changed. They are living in the past. They fail to recognize that The SEIU’s “Persuasion of Power” and the Democratic Party have teamed up to intimidate Republican Conservatives through misinformation and propaganda as outlined in The Socialist Mind Game. Yet Republicans continue to allow this charade. Identical to tactics seen in the SEIU’s Corporate Campaigns, this type of campaign can only be countered by standing up for your beliefs and fighting back.  Conservatives must learn to utilize the Rules of Obama Power War against the President and his public sector union backers if they are ever going to regain control. They must recognize it is time to stop being the “nice guys” who do not want to offend anyone and go on the offensive. They have to fight fire with fire and inform the American public of the truth. As I learned, when you take this position, people will listen and understand that they are being manipulated by those without their best interest in mind. Many of the middle class Obama claims to protect are already learning this as they see their paychecks shrink after the president sold them down the drain in the “fiscal cliff” debate. The Republican politicians need to pound this message home.

The problem with the current slate of Republican politicians, as writer Paul Hollrah so eloquently expressed, is A Failure to Communicate. The GOP has Become its Own Worst Enemy. They don’t think they can play the bully card, because the mainstream media is in Obama’s camp. Although this may be accurate, this should not prevent them from utilizing a “big tent” approach to reach Americans and educate them by exposing the public sector unions’ misinformation and lies. Conservatives must illustrate the socialistic agenda of big labor and their allies, and explain that The Problem with Socialism is Socialism, all while using professionalism, ethics and integrity. After applying this approach against the SEIU in the face of overwhelming odds and emerging victorious, I feel confident that this strategy will produce results.

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.