I know most of you have to stiffle a yawn when you see a post about unions. Well you shouldn’t! It is important stuff under the actions of the current administration. But I will try to keep this relatively brief. First a little background. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is made up of 5 appointed members, 3 from the political party in power and the other 2 from the other party. Today that means the the NLRB is composed of 3 Democrat party appointees and 2 Republican. The actual number seated will depend on resignations, tenure of appointment (as in a recess appointment), and difficulty of getting appointees through the Senate approval process. During the Bush administration the Senate Democrats blocked a number of appointments so that NLRB was usually small in numbers. But they still decided on a number of cases.
One of these cases was that of Dana Corp. The issue at hand dealt with voluntary recognition of a union by management and whether employees had the right to contest that voluntary recognition by calling for a secret ballot election to decertify the union accepted by the company. The Bush-era NLRB said “yes” employees have that right and they altered the “bar to an election” that prohibited an election within one year of voluntary recognition. They said that EMPLOYEES may petition for an election. You can read the decision from the NLRB by clicking here for the write up.
This is a decision that I personally agree with. In the world of union organizing the signing of authorization cards can be subject to acts of intimidation and people may be inclined to sign in order to save their kneecaps. Thus presentation of a bunch of cards with signatures may not accurately reflect the true feelings of the employees. Giving them a chance to vote on the union status will give you a more accurate test.
And that is the way things stand today. However, because the Bush-era NLRB was understaffed a Federal court declared that decisions made by that board were invalid and ordered the current NLRB to revisit those (nearly 800) decisions. One of the first ones up is Dana Corp. And the early indications are that they will reverse the decision. They will declare that the voluntary recognition bar must stand and that if a union and management agree on the majority status of a union, and deem them to be the official representative of the employees, the employees will have no say in the process. For a great analysis of this and a story of personal experience in this read Jon Hyman’s Card Check is Dead…Long Live Card Check.
What I find telling about this is that the NLRB is NOT about protecting the rights of employees, it is ALL about protecting the union organization. They are not interested in employees getting what is good for them, they are interested in protecting the status of the union, who through possible intimidation may be able to convince an employer that their employees would like to have that union. The unions know, as does the union-friendly NLRB, that if these situations are put to the test of an election they may lose because the true desire of the employees is expressed on the ballot and not on the authorization card. So the best way to prevent that is to take away the secret ballot election, much like EFCA was proposing.
So there you have it. The NLRB’s first major decision will be one that is pro-union but ANTI-EMPLOYEE. So much for having your rights protected….