Washington, D.C. (September 8, 2004) – National Right to Work Foundation attorneys have persuaded the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to issue the first-ever unfair labor practice complaints in a series of employee cases challenging organized labor’s predominant organizing method known as “card check.”
Under “card check” or so-called “neutrality agreements,” employers are induced to waive their employees’ ability to vote in a secret ballot election and agree to provide other assistance to the union in pressuring employees to unionize. These pacts – which are sometimes characterized as sweetheart deals – often include unlawful pre-arrangements over substantive terms and conditions of employment, such as health care, wages, or compulsory union dues.
Replacing the less-abusive secret ballot election process with “card check” has become the number one requirement for candidates to obtain Big Labor’s support in the 2004 elections. According to the AFL-CIO’s recent statement to BNA’s Daily Labor Report, “we don’t have any issue that’s a litmus test, but this is as close as it gets.”
NLRB General Counsel Arthur Rosenfeld found that deals the United Auto Workers (UAW) union cut with Freightliner (owned by Daimler Chrysler) and automotive supplier Dana Corporation amounted to unlawful premature bargaining under long-established law. The illegal agreements had been reached long before the UAW had provided any evidence that a majority of the companies’ employees wanted anything to do with the union.
Foundation attorneys brought the original unfair labor practice charges after being contacted by workers who found themselves targeted for organization by the unwanted UAW union at Freightliner’s Gaffney, South Carolina, facility as well as Dana Corporation’s plants in Bristol, Virginia, and St. Johns, Michigan.
The lead cases directly impact the enforceability of these “neutrality” or “card check” agreements, in which employers typically grant union operatives sweeping access to their workplaces and employees’ personal information, strip workers of the opportunity to a secret ballot representation election, and hold mandatory “captive audience” speeches about why employees should be unionized. Workers are subjected to “card check” drives in which union operatives bully workers face-to-face to sign union authorization cards that count as a “vote” in favor of unionization.
“Though long overdue, the General Counsel’s decision is an encouraging step towards protecting the rights of tens of thousands of workers across the country facing this ugly union organizing tactic,” said Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “Workers ought to be able to decide whether to unionize in an atmosphere free of coercion.”
In the Freightliner case, Gaffney workers filed federal charges against Freightliner, Daimler-Chrysler, and the UAW union for unlawfully withholding scheduled pay raises as part of a strategy to coerce employees into ceding to unionization. Although an overwhelming majority of employees signed a petition opposing the UAW, Freightliner nevertheless bargained with the union. Meanwhile, in the cases brought by Dana employees, company and union officials negotiated over health benefits and other substantive terms of employment without first having a majority of workers’ support.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in around 250 cases nationwide per year.