Unions Are Getting Payback

In all this discussion of Health care and ways to “improve” the level of health care, there have been many ideas floated around, one of which is to tax the benefits of the health care after it reaches a certain level economically, something that has not been done up til now- but then, there are a LOT of things being done now that have never been done before. With unions, under the plan being floated by Sen. Max Baucus- D, the unions would be exempt from these taxes in a blatant display of favoritism. This is in addition to the Employer Free Choice Act, or as it is otherwise known, Card Check.

Organized labor’s highest legislative priority is the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). EFCA would replace traditional secret-ballot elections, where workers decide on joining a union in the privacy of a voting booth, with “card check”–where workers publicly sign union cards, often in full view of union organizers. EFCA also authorizes the government to write and impose the terms of collective-bargaining agreements on workers and businesses at newly organized companies.

Labor unions publicly argue for congressional passage of EFCA by maintaining that the current organizing system is broken. They claim that most American workers want to join a union but employer campaigns of “coercion, intimidation, and retaliation” deter workers from voting for the union representation they desire.[1] Unions allege that during pre-election campaigns employees are routinely “harassed, intimidated, spied on, threatened and fired.”[2] They argue that this creates a climate of fear that terrifies workers into voting against the union in the private voting booth. Labor unions contend that Congress should eliminate secret ballot elections in order to protect workers from this alleged intimidation.

This argument makes little sense, of course. Secret ballots specifically protect privacy so that voters can express their views without fear of retaliation. Union membership has fallen not because of widespread intimidation, but because unions do not fit into the modern economy well and most non-union workers simply do not want to organize: A recent Rasmussen poll found that only 9 percent of non-union workers want to join a union.[3]


The unions love this idea, because, except for those “captive” employers who cannot relocate, the unions have driven out almost all manufacturing in the United States through their “Legacy” concessions, where retired union people get preferred health care, and pensions that are the envy of the world. That would be fine if the companies had been able to stay viable, but in the Global Marketplace there is stiff competition for workers who do not have the baggage of legacy constraints.

And then there is the basic dishonesty of the unions and how they deal with the companies they seek to unionize. The unions already have a playing field that is tilted heavily in their favor.

Several studies analyzing data from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have shown that the union movement heavily inflates charges of employer misconduct. These studies find that employers illegally fire workers in at most 3 to 4 percent of organizing campaigns.[4] These numbers make sense: Employers who want to defeat a union campaign must persuade their workers that they deserve their trust. Threatening workers demonstrates supervisors’ untrustworthiness and can make workers more likely to turn to the union for protection. Unions win more elections if employers harass and discipline union activists than when they do not.[5]

Now a new study commissioned by the labor movement confirms the results of these other studies. The labor movement’s own figures show that employers rarely threaten to fire workers who want to join unions.

This recent study is “No Holds Barred: The Intensification of Employer Opposition to Organizing,” by Kate Bronfenbrenner, a former union organizer and now a professor at Cornell University.[6] The Economic Policy Institute, a union-funded think tank and American Rights at Work, a union-backed organization established for the purpose of advocating the passage of EFCA, jointly released Bronfenbrenner’s study. It has the labor movement’s full endorsement.

Bronfenbrenner analyzed two data sets to determine how frequently employers break the law during union campaigns. First, Bronfenbrenner re-analyzed data from a previously published survey of lead union organizers in 1,004 organizing campaigns between 1999 and 2003. She asked the lead organizer of each campaign whether employers used various tactics to defeat the organizing drives.[7] Second, Bronfenbrenner requested data under the Freedom of Information Act on any Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) charges filed with the NLRB during those campaigns and their ultimate disposition.[8]

The study relies heavily on the self-reported survey of union organizers–data that suffers from many biases. Most important, union organizers do not directly observe what happens in the workplace. They only hear second- and third-hand reports. They do not know if an employer laid off an employee because he supported the union or because of chronic tardiness. They do not know if an employer “interrogated” employees or had a conversation in which an employee mentioned his views on unionizing. They do not know if employers “threatened” workers or simply explained that in collective bargaining everything is on the table and workers’ compensation can go both up and down–a fact that union organizers avoid mentioning, and a statement that is permissible within the boundaries of the National Labor Relations Act.


So it might appear that much of the “employee harassment” unions complain about is second or third hand gossip they use to serve their purposes. This becomes a blatant power grab, when their membership is down so much in recent years. It’s all about money here- that’s no surprise, but the unions are not the good guys here, and shouldn’t be getting more benefits in this environment. If the rest of the people are getting taxed on their health care benefits, so should the unions.

After all, they have been given not one, but two auto companies they can play with. They should be satisfied with those for awhile, until they run those into the ground like they have managed to do with everything else they touch.

Until then, perhaps they should “feel the pain” like everyone else in this country.


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23 Responses to “Unions Are Getting Payback”

  1. Big Dog says:

    The government will tax us but leave them alone with regard to benefits. If they tax us enough they can drive people to seek the government run health system. Once they have you there they will own you.

    They own the elderly who are afraid of lsing SS and Medicare, they own the welfare recipients who are afraid of losing benefits and they will own anyone who signs up to be a ward of the state.

  2. Blake says:

    In the Democrat plan, people who make less than 33,000 dollars are not even covered- how does this plan help poor people

    • Darrel says:

      BLK: “how does this plan help poor people”

      “Reporting from Washington — Senior House Democrats on Friday introduced their plan for reshaping the nation’s healthcare system, calling for a new government insurance option, a new mandate on employers to provide coverage and a new guarantee of subsidized healthcare for the poor.”


      You know, even by accident I would think you would get something right once in a while. You know what they say about blind pigs and acorns.


  3. Darrel says:

    Fiddling with taxes is not going to fix America’s health care problems. That’s an old ruse being put forward by the regular crowd who is getting rich off of the current system and want to distract from the real problems.

    • Blake says:

      It’s your side that wants to “fiddle with the taxes” as you put it. I agree, this is not the solution.
      An MRI costs around $3,000- add to that the “doctor” who reads it for another $2,000, and you have the reason people do not get preventative care. That’s a lot of money.
      Yes, MRI machines cost a lot, so do compressors for my work, but I do not charge everyone 1/10 of the cost of the compressor every time I take a job- that’s dishonest. I spread the cost out over quite a long time.
      You could charge one tenth of what they now charge, and still make money here.
      This is where health costs begin to get out of hand.
      Add to that the outrageous bills Doctors and hospitals charge insurance companies, and you have the perfect healthcare storm.

      • Darrel says:

        No, it’s your side that wants to fiddle with taxes. I already posted the detail free republican plan which did include… fiddling with taxes (as usual, giving the rich a break so they can feed the broken system more).

        I had an MRI about four years ago. They tried to charge me $1,100 but when I showed that I was insured and in network, they billed me about $450. Which went toward my $4,000 deductible (which I have reached but never surpassed).

        The “perfect healthcare storm,” is what we have now.


        • Blake says:

          The hospitals and doctors routinely charge at least twice as much as they expect to get from the insurance companies- its like a game to them, but then they charge self pay people the same amount, and then want to send their bill to the collection agencies when people balk at the inflated amounts.
          Government health care will not change that- it will just drive doctors out of business.
          Tort reform and malpractice caps would help, but Hussein’s a lawyer, so he won’t do that.

      • Darrel says:

        BLK: “MRI machines cost a lot,… I do not charge everyone 1/10 of the cost of the compressor every time I take a job- that’s dishonest.”>>

        MRI machines, the 3 Tesla brain scanning ones (which are typical), cost over $2.2 million plus up to another half a million to install (plus debt service). 1/10th of that is $270k, so the cost of an MRI scan is not nearly 10% of the cost of a machine but rather (if we go with say $2100 per scan) more like .0008% of the cost of the machine.

        But I get your point.


  4. Roger Ram says:

    PTI just published a new report yesterday (www.ptilaborresearch.com)

    According to data provided by the NLRB/BLS, unions won 66.8% of representation elections held in 2008. That number represents a more than 10% improvement over 2007 and is the highest win rate since 1984.


    From PTI’s exclusive database of formal NLRB petition/election activity nationally, we have determined that for the first four months of 2009 (Jan-Apr), roughly the first 100 days of Obama’s Presidency, unions have won an astonishing 77% of the NLRB secret ballot elections.

    Sounds like we don’t really need the employee free choice act. Unions are doing better than they have ever done before without it.

    • Blake says:

      Perhaps, but there is a downside to union membership- the job might disappear if the company can move overseas. If you have a captive audience, such as the CWA (Communications Workers of America), or the SEIU, which cleans hotels, you might have a job until unions force these entities to go bankrupt through legacy costs.
      In any event, the Card Check is an abomination- secret ballots are a bedrock part of the American way of life and should stay that way.
      And unions should be taxed as everyone else is- no favors, they are already spoiled enough.

      • Rightwork says:

        Blake your miss informed slip is showing.
        Card check is already part of the accepted system, and the one which many new members join unions, and yes currently unions are doing better. The lies being spread by big business is being seen.
        This still does not help those workers whom are fired for unionizing activities. This is in fact against the law.
        The EFCA will more importantly give the workers the right to get a contract in a somewhat reasonable time frame. Currently it is not unheard of for companies that become union to take over two years to settle on a contract some never have. All the while the companies still commit illegal acts against their own employees.
        Next you say it the unions that do the harassing, say it all you want it will not change the facts that companies over the last ten years have committed over twenty thousand illegal acts each year. The unions do not even have two thousand documented cases from 1937 so in the real world there is no comparison.
        Companies have moved off shore for many more reasons than just cost, many have done it to get tax incentives they lobbied for and received many years ago.
        America has been a world power because of our manufacturing base, if astonishes me how you can make the claim that the Republican party has made America strong when they lead the charge to ship our jobs and capital strength all over the planet.
        It has much more to do with positioning for new markets so these companies can milk other peoples and countries.
        I also love how you call sharing the wealth earned by workers as socialistic. When in fact capitalism is also re-distributing wealth from many people to just a few. Please explain the economic preference to do that? It’s is even simpler it’s just old style GREED.
        Here are a few economic facts, Union members on average have about 18 to 35% better wages, and pay more taxes. Union members also tend to have better health care plans, these same plans tend to pay more for the same services that people need that the companies that do not provide any health care for. If that insurance was not there we all would pay higher cost for all our health care.
        Unions and their members provide many additional benefits to their communities. Can Drives, Blood drives, Apprenticeships, halls that many community members utilize for little or no cost. Political education and experience.
        Unions are not the problem, no union has ever asked or voted to send one job overseas. Unions are one of the best organizations for educating people and building strong communities.
        it’s OK to say I don’t understand Unions and I don’t really know anything about them. Actually unions are just like a Chamber of commerce only for their members, or other associations where people join together to have better influence by having greater numbers. If you want to truly experience democracy at work ask if you may attend a Union meeting as a guest?

        • Blake says:

          Gee, one might think you are with a union- I wouldn’t join a union if a gun was held to my head (apractice I understand may be returning)- I personally believe unions are more responsible for running manufacturing businesses out of this country than any other single thing.
          The sheer incompetence and nepotism involved in unions is amazing- in many cases you hardly have to work, and still you people bitch- you all wouldn’t know about hard work if it bit you in the butt.
          Chamber of Commerce my a**- yeah, it’s a real “Benevolent” association- please try not to insult my intelligence.
          The truth is that rich people create jobs that you work at, and if they did not create those jobs, you would have no work. This is not a hobby for these bosses- they are supposed to earn money. If they do not, why should they keep your useless butt employed? Out of the “goodness” of their hearts? Give me a break.
          I understand the initial purpose of unions, but over the years, unions have gotten arrogant, and forgotten their place in this equation- they give up too little in this economy, and hamper the recovery, and are slitting their own throats in the process.
          Its a world market now boy, and you can’t put that back in the box- you and the rest of the unions need to process that information intelligently.

        • Blake says:

          One more thing, RW- I used union facts and figures for this post, so you are attempting to refute figures your unions accepted as real and true- you are in effect accusing your own unions of lying. Actually READ the second quoted paragraph- start at the beginning- read slowly, for better comprehension, that’s a good boy, you can do it.

        • Blake says:

          Union members legacy costs have killed GM and Chrysler- the gubbmint can’t alter the fact that those businesses are doomed, and it is the fault of the unions. Our manufacturing base has been shrinking since NAFTA, CAFTA, and the Global Economy-Unions only exist where there is a captive business, but you will drive them out of business soon enough in this economy, because you know how to take, but do not know how to give at the bargaining table. I have friends who are union members, and yes they make a lot of money, but if their business could move overseas, it would, and save billions of dollars in employee costs- that’s life, but union people seem to be slow to wake to the new realities.
          Just wait- if you think Hussein won’t throw you under the bus, you don’t know that waffling fool.

      • Darrel says:

        BLK: “Union members legacy costs have killed GM and Chrysler-“>>

        You mean they were actually going to give those older retired workers their pensions? After they paid into it all those years?

        How ridiculous.

        What we should do with old people:

        a) put them on ice flows and let them float out to sea (that’s what the Canadians do, or so I’ve heard)

        b) Use them as one way astronauts (Franken’s recommendation)

        It’s the only sensible thing to do.

        Poor “rightwork,” actually trying to reason with Blake! He’ll learn. Blake is like a rabid dog in a cage. A little dog, drooling, not too bright. He’s not interested in “reasons” for believing things but rather barking and trying to bite people. This doesn’t amount to much because of the cage (powerless), and the “not too bright part.”

        “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”
        –John Kenneth Galbraith, economist, author

        • Blake says:

          I must be doing something right- I have you foaming at the mouth in an ad hominem attack that just makes you look so pathetic. you are a sad little man- I will pray for you.

        • Darrel says:

          Boy, you better hope ad hominem attacks don’t make a person “look so pathetic.”

          Cause then, *you* are in real trouble in the “pathetic” department.

          Actually, an ad hominem attack is when you substitute a personal attack for an argument.

          I always provide the argument. Some times I add a little spicy to keep your attention. But you hurl a hundred childish insults to my one. And you forget entirely about the “providing the argument” part. That’s the important part.

          I pointed out that you’re not too bright, because it’s obviously true. And remember, as you said just yesterday. It’s not an insult if it’s true!

          ps. Thanks for your prayers. No really. Every little bit helps.

        • Blake says:

          Darrel, you are a legend in your own mind, that’s painfully obvious- you are so special. You bring nothing to the party except painfully crude left wing propaganda and obvious smears.
          I’m not too bright? I positively glow compared to you, boy-a goat herding piano tuner? Right.

        • Darrel says:

          You forgot that I only have a high school education.

        • Blake says:

          Yes, and it’s painfully evident.