Under various NLRB decisions that span decades, the federal agency that enforces most of America's private-sector's labor law has refused to interfere with union organizers' ability to use pressure tactics and deceive workers into unionization.
Now, an employer in the Northeast is challenging the Service Employees International Union's allegedly deceptive tactics as it attempts to get union authorization cards signed in an ongoing unionization campaign.
Fellowship Health Resources runs about a dozen group homes around Cape Cod and, according to the Cape Cod Times, has become a target of the SEIU.
A Rhode Island nonprofit that runs several group homes on the Cape and Islands has filed a labor complaint against a union trying to organize its employees.
Fellowship Health Resources Inc. accuses representatives of SEIU Local 509, a union representing human service workers, of intimidating and misleading employees on the job and of tracking them down at home.
Late last month, union representatives visited night shift workers at group homes under false pretenses, urging employees to sign a survey they were told was for Fellowship, Dziobek said.
He claims that the papers were actually union authorization cards.
The union needs to get at least 30 percent of employees to sign authorization cards for the labor board to authorize a vote on whether to unionize, Dziobek said.
"What I take exception to is the tactics," he said. A staff person at a group living program in Eastham turned union representatives away at 9 p.m. but they came back at 12:30 a.m. and left only after the staffer threatened to call the police, he said.
Fellowship employees also have complained about being visited three or four times at home by union representatives, Dziobek said. "Staff are pretty upset," he said. They are asking, "How did they get my personal cell phone number?"
This is not the first time the SEIU has allegedly resorted to pressure tactics.
In one case, the SEIU was accused of:
- Harassing and intimidating workers at their homes to secure signatures on purported union authorization cards;
- Misrepresenting to employees the meaning of union authorization cards in an attempt to have employees sign union authorization cards;
- Misrepresenting to employees at their homes that the union represented Total Health Home Care and that the union authorization cards were paperwork the Employer authorized employees to sign;
- Threatening employees using racial intimidation, stating in public that Totoal Health Home Care is white, the employees are black, and if they did not join the union they were black and stupid;
- Threatening employees that if they did not sign union authorization cards, the union would use their social security numbers as signatures;
- Preventing employees at their homes from going to work until they signed a union authorization card;
- Making employees sign a union authorization card as an entry fee into a union-sponsored organizing event;
- Asking whomever answered the door at the employees' homes to sign a union authorization card on behalf of the employee; more...
While the SEIU has replaced the Teamsters as the poster child for union intimidation tactics, the SEIU isn't the only union that engages in underhanded tactics.
In Pennsylvania, the textile union, UNITE-HERE, violated the privacy of thousands of Cintas workers when it illegally obtained the license plate numbers from Cintas employees — as well as some of their friends and family members — in order to access home addresses and other personal information. The union was ordered to pay several million dollars to the workers.
As unions continue intimidating and deceiving worker into unionization, lawmakers should understand that the problems inherent with union organizing cannot be addressed with band aid-like fixes being currently proposed in Washington. A simpler solution to union intimidation and deception would be a "Truth in Union Organizing" bill with stiff fines when union organizers are caught deceiving workers.
“Socialism has no place in the hearts of those who would secure the fight for freedom and preserve democracy.” Samuel Gompers, American Federation of Labor, 1918
Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.com