They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. If that is true, then every non-union worker and legitimate union agent has great cause to be concerned. You see, the union-controlled National Labor Relations Board just paved the roadway and gave every unscrupulous union boss and employer the means and the roadmap to severely undermine workers rights in America.
On Monday, in the haste to do everything they can to put workers and their paychecks into union bosses’ hands at all costs, the union-controlled NLRB issued a decision that has those in control of today’s unions (and certain kinds of employers) grinning from ear to ear. You see, the union-controlled NLRB just legitimized “sweetheart unions” who come knocking on employers’ doors bearing gifts called “sweetheart contracts.”
In a decision [in PDF] involving the United Auto Workers and the Dana Corporation, the NLRB dismissed unfair labor practice charges that Dana employees filed in 2003 and 2004 against both the UAW and their employer. The employees’ charges were based on the UAW and Dana entering into a Letter of Agreement on behalf of the then non-union employees that gave the UAW the right to unionize Dana’s employees without a secret-ballot election (through “card-check”) and established the parameters of a contract before the union was even their collective bargaining agent.
Here is the NLRB’s summary of the case:
December 6, 2010
DECISION AND ORDER
BY CHAIRMAN LIEBMAN AND MEMBERS PEARCE
Respondents Dana Corporation and International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), AFL–CIO—two parties with a long history of collective bargaining—entered into a Letter of Agreement (LOA or Agreement) setting forth ground rules for additional union organizing, procedures for voluntary recognition upon proof of majority support, and substantive issues that collective bargaining would address if and when Dana recognized the UAW at an unorganized facility. The issues before us are whether, in entering into and maintaining the LOA, Dana rendered unlawful support to the UAW in violation of Section 8(a)(2) and (1) of the Act, and whether the UAW accepted that support in violation of Section 8(b)(1)(A). We conclude that the Agreement was lawful, and we therefore dismiss the complaint.
Now that the NLRB has ruled it is legal, the issues at stake for workers in the real world is whether it is right for a union to come to an employer, offer an agreement that may or may not be beneficial to workers, in exchange for recognizing the union through card-check.
In the Dana case, the UAW and Dana had agreed to a host of issues that the judge found “irrelevant” whether or not it was presented to the affected workers. Further, Dana and the union agreed that if a final agreement could not be reached within six months, the parties would submit the unresolved issues to “interest arbitration” and the arbitrator would pick either Dana’s or the UAW’s position—all of this without any input from the affected workers.
What makes this so egregiously wrong is the fact that all of this was done, and now can be done across the nation, without any input from employees. Moreover, since the NLRB already allows unions to mislead employees into signing union authorization cards, as well as allows unions to mislead employees after unionization, unscrupulous unions and employers can lock workers into contracts where they have no voice and no choice in the matter. Lastly, since most contracts contain “no strike” provisions, workers’ right to strike over a bad deal has also been stripped away.
“The Board majority’s decision is paternalistic, patronizing, and wrong. A union, like a trustee, must act in the best interests of its beneficiaries/workers and in good faith,” stated John Raudabaugh, a former NLRB member and labor attorney with the law firm Nixon Peabody. “By cutting a deal before a majority is achieved, the union induces worker support by touting the ‘deal’ already achieved but voids the legitimacy of such support. And, a company’s pre-recognition negotiating not only interferes with employees’ free choice by assisting the union in inducing support, but eliminates potential bargaining leverage that would have been realized by a pro-union majority in a free choice election. This decision surely will be overturned on appeal.”
While the NLRB’s decision may eventually be appealed, until that happens, it is the law of the land today. As a result, workers throughout the country have had their rights severely undercut by the union-controlled NLRB, which makes sweetheart deals by unions much more likely.
How often does that happen? Just ask the SEIU members who have been affected by sweetheart deals. It was a sweetheart deal that eventually caused the SEIU’s Andy Stern to become the pariah of the union movement:
The willingness to injure employees to increase SEIU’s revenue became crystal clear in April 2007. The San Francisco Weekly uncovered a shady deal SEIU officials made with California nursing home operators. The deal: in exchange for lobbying the state for more funds, the employers would let SEIU unionize employees while not educating them on the union’s inflated promises. But according to the Weekly it was:
… a sweetheart deal between the SEIU and California nursing home companies that impair, rather than empower, workers and patients, while inflating dues-paying ranks.
The deal, the Weekly added, “involved trading away workers’ free-speech rights, selling out their ability to improve working conditions, and relinquishing their capability to improve pay and benefits, in order to expand the SEIU’s and Stern’s own power.”
Is it any wonder a California SEIU member said “To them, we are a huge ATM machine”? That member’s union – SEIU Local 1000 – found itself $6.7 million in debt after spending on issues such as an attempt to block a state initiative that would have required unions to obtain written consent from members before using dues money for political causes.
As was stated above, the road to hell may be paved with good intentions. However, in this case, the drivers’ intentions are not good at all.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776