Union Power, Not Worker Welfare, Motivates Attack on Nonunion Employer
After battling the SEIU’s Corporate Campaign against my company, and ultimately winning, I firmly believed that I had experienced corruption at its worst. Sadly, I was mistaken.
It all began in January 2012 when my company was awarded a housekeeping contract in Kokomo, Indiana, a city that benefited from a major portion of the President’s 2009 Stimulus Package and Auto Bailout. It was an unprecedented award, as we were the first non-union cleaning contractor to be awarded the facility. Our staff replaced approximately 30 United Auto Workers (UAW) members, who did not lose their jobs, but rather were absorbed into the plant operations. The most striking part of the transition was how successful we were. Plant management was ecstatic with the cleanliness, efficiency and safety of our company and employees. Our employees were happy and the employees at the plant were happy with a cleaner facility. This pleasant relationship continued for over 6 months, until the UAW International raised its ugly head.
Apparently, it did not sit well with the powers-to-be at UAW International that a non-union contractor could be successful at a “union” facility. They sent a corporate organizer espousing the belief that the employees, who to that point had not requested union representation, needed union “protection” and deserved better wages and work rules. The sudden appearance of the UAW International had nothing to do with the employees, but had everything to do with their fear that if we were successful in this plant, that we could begin picking up more “union” plants across the country, thus threatening their future membership dues and way of existence.
Consistent with their SEIU brethren, and in line with the direction of the NLRB since President Obama’s recess appointments in attempt to create Card Check through Regulation vs. Legislation, the UAW immediately contacted us about signing a Neutrality Agreement, which they instead labeled as a “Partnership Agreement.” This blatant misrepresentation would be the first and least onerous of the many that would be spewed by the desperate Gasping Dinosaurs to secure the unionization of our employees. We responded to the UAW just as it did when the SEIU requested we sign a Neutrality Agreement in 2007, we were still not interested in signing away our employees’ rights to a secret ballot election (for more details, read The Devil at Our Doorstep). Despite several contacts by the UAW organizer requesting that we sign the “Partnership Agreement,” we respectfully declined. Giving credit where credit is due, the UAW did not threaten us with a Corporate Campaign, in fact things became suspiciously quiet going into Thanksgiving last year.
Unfortunately, the silence did not last long. The day after Thanksgiving we received notice that the UAW had petitioned for an election to determine union representation for our employees. Immediately we responded, as we had the past, that we expected both sides to conduct themselves with integrity and within the guidelines of the law and NLRA regulations. We also wanted the election to be held as close to the 42-day mandated period as possible, despite knowing the coming holidays would complicate the process. The UAW agreed to an election date of January 8, 2013. This agreement would be the UAW’s last act of civility and integrity during the process.
The day before the election, January 7, 2013, it was clear that the employees were likely to vote against UAW representation, in a close election. Subsequently, the UAW International took it upon itself to ensure a victory. The UAW International contacted the customer’s corporate executives in Detroit and secured an agreement that if the employees would vote for union recognition, the customer would pay us increased costs, including a wage increase of $5.00 per hour, associated FICA, FUTA, SUTA taxes and insurance, plus any applicable overhead and margin increases. This meeting took place without our knowledge nor the involvement of local plant management, who was responsible for budgets and profitability. That same evening the UAW met with our employees at a local Pizza Hut and disclosed the deal. They told our employees all they had to do was vote in the UAW in order to receive the raise in pay.
The next day our employees, coerced by the union “incentive,” voted in the UAW as its representative. Interestingly enough, our local management at the plant received a phone call approximately 1 hour before the secret ballot election closed and was told that an agreement had been reached and that we would be reimbursed for the increased costs in labor and wages for the facility. I personally received a call a few days later from the customer, verifying the call we received on election day. The most astounding part of the call was that the customer provided us with the exact dollar amount, per hour, it would be reimbursing us, which corresponded almost perfectly with the cost of the wage increase, associated taxes and benefits that the UAW promised employees the night before the election. I sincerely believe that both the UAW and the customer believed that because we would be receiving more revenue, including profit margins, that we would accept the money, negotiate a contract, pay employees more and everyone would be happy. They never considered that we would take the moral high ground and refuse the money.
We immediately filed charges and Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) with the National Labor Relations Board (aka the Rogue NLRB), knowing it would be an uphill battle considering President Obama’s payback to big labor, in the form of unconstitutional recess appointments to the NLRB. The Regional NLRB, to its credit, determined that hearings should be held based on the claims and evidence. Despite significant testimony from employees and the customer’s plant management, as well as other information that clearly implicated the UAW in corruption and coercion, the NLRB found in favor of the UAW.
The decision came as no surprise, based on the NLRB’s “pro-labor” stance under the current Administration. Undaunted, we appealed the decision, which moved the process to Washington D.C. for review. This review would come from the same board that had already been ruled unconstitutional by the United States D.C. Circuit Court, and who believes it can circumvent the Constitution by changing regulations, reversing decisions and making decisions that enable big labor to wage war on employers in attempt to achieve Card Check and force unionization on employees. The NLRB responded as expected, finding in favor of the UAW.
Immediately, the UAW requested to begin contract negotiations, which we declined. Since the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision had been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, after finding the recess appointed board members unconstitutional and placing their subsequent decisions and regulation changes on hold, it seemed logical that discussions would be fruitless until the Supreme Court reached a decision. The UAW quickly returned to its intimidation tactics. They contacted our customer and threatened a strike at the facility unless we began negotiations. The customer, so intimidated by these tactics, canceled our contract, not for poor quality or service and not for refusing to negotiate with the UAW, but for convenience. The corporate office then awarded the contract to a “union” contractor, against the wishes of the local plant management who was instructed to remain neutral and quiet. The whole scenario begs the question, if the customer wanted to pay higher wages, why didn’t they talk to us about it in the very beginning? By offering to build in higher wages for our employees, they could have protected them from the shackles of big labor and required union dues. We would have been more than happy to negotiate with the customer directly for improved wages for our employees.
This same scenario is currently being played out in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the UAW is attempting to Force Unionize Volkswagen Employees through use of a Neutrality Agreement and Card Check. In this case, the union claims they have enough votes to win an election, but instead of holding a secret ballot election, which they say takes time and effort, the facility should utilize Card Check. Based on personal experience and as chronicled in The Devil at Our Doorstep, the truth that was discovered upon talking to my employees throughout these scenarios, was that they were intimidated and lied to about the cards they were signing. This is most likely what is occurring at the Volkswagen Plant, the UAW is merely attempting to achieve Card Check through the back door, and the economic impact of these events could be devastating.
Once again Big Labor’s Gasping Dinosaurs are demonstrating their desperation as they continue to utilize intimidation and coercion to force unionize employees with their “ends justify the means” quest to avoid extinction.
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.