Comments

  1. #1 AK
    March 10, 2009

    It’s clearly Maddow who’s lying. I’ve worked in union shops, and the level of communal intimidation that goes on makes a secret ballot the only way people can really make free choices. The bill’s very title is a lie: employees hardly get a “free choice” whether to publicly sign their names on the card when everybody in the shop will know whether they did or not.

    It’s no wonder the Repub’s are “winning the PR war” on this issue, IMO most Americans are too smart to believe the lies of Maddow or the Democratic party.

    As for Big Three auto workers’ wages, I suspect Maddow’s in left field here as well, IMO most Americans resent the bloated wages these featherbedders have been getting and their sympathies are with other workers who have to settle for less (and their employers aren’t about to go bankrupt).

  2. #2 D. C. Sessions
    March 10, 2009

    As for Big Three auto workers’ wages

    Is that the pay that current workers actually receive, or is that the total outlay for current plus retired workers, divided by current workers?

    It’s like the old stunt of inflating the size of the US military budget by including the retirement, medical, etc. costs for WWII and Korean veterans (and, now, Vietnam veterans.)

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    March 10, 2009

    And health care and other social services. They are not the same, not paid the same way, etc. in Japan/Korea/Wherever as in the US. So that has to be fixed too.

  4. #4 Andrew
    March 10, 2009

    IMO most Americans are too smart

    This is not a strong basis for any argument.

  5. #5 Coriolis
    March 10, 2009

    “IMO most Americans are too smart

    This is not a strong basis for any argument.”

    Especially when the post containing the statement is a prime example of why it’s unjustified.

  6. #6 Joshua Zelinsky
    March 10, 2009

    I’m generally more left-wing than anything else but in this regard the secret ballot really does make sense. Fundamentally, people when voting have a right to do so without people looking over their shoulders. There’s a general amusing hypocrisy to all this. The Republican party wants to preserve voting rights for workers but steal basic voting rights for shareholders. The Democratic Party wants the opposite.

  7. #7 Rowan
    March 10, 2009

    i am a little torn. my great grandfathers organised unions in the coal mines.

    however, when i was working in the healthcare field i was up close and personal in situations where unions were looking to establish themselves in nursing homes. intimidation? oh heck, yes! lies to the employees? oh heck, yes!

    telling employees that if a union were voted in that the employees paychecks would increase due to higher wages. well, yes, their checks did increase, however their take home pay was far less than prior. the dues to the union were greater than the raises.

    how about when a nursing home union organised a strike at one facility? one of the employees was a single mother of two. she crossed the line because she needed her pay in order to support her kids. flyers were distributed calling her a scab. they listed her home address and noted that members “knew what to do”. she spent ten days in the hospital after her house was broken into and she was beaten for having crossed the picket line. there were slogans spray painted on the house and her vandalised car leaving no doubt who was responsible.

    yeah, i would definitely prefer the secret ballot so that i could cast a vote of “no” for a union.

  8. #8 D. C. Sessions
    March 10, 2009

    i would definitely prefer the secret ballot so that i could cast a vote of “no” for a union.

    Well, yeah, that’s rather obviously why you would want a secret ballot: to protect yourself from reprisal. The only question is, who objects to that — and why?

  9. #9 Stephanie Z
    March 10, 2009

    IMO most Americans resent the bloated wages these featherbedders have been getting and their sympathies are with other workers who have to settle for less (and their employers aren’t about to go bankrupt).

    If most Americans do resent that, it’s because they haven’t been paying attention. The unions have made significant concessions in 2005 and 2007 and are being asked to do it again. They’ve accepted lower pay and taken on benefit funding risk that is traditionally held by the employer.

    They’re being asked to do more, may I remind you, by executives too clueless to do any cost cutting of their own. Remember how the suits showed up in Washington to ask for a bailout?

    Also, lest anyone forget, the decision to rely on SUVs and other luxury vehicles for profit margin shortly before an economic downturn was not made by labor. Neither was the decision to go to war in a region with a significant influence on gas prices. Blaming the Big Three’s troubles on labor when these circumstances also favor “foreign” automakers smacks of a certain intellectual dishonesty.

  10. #10 Strider
    March 10, 2009

    The GOP lies?! Zounds!

  11. #11 TheEngima32
    March 10, 2009

    >>IMO most Americans resent the bloated wages these featherbedders have been getting and their sympathies are with other workers who have to settle for less (and their employers aren’t about to go bankrupt).<<

    so wait… everyone gets paid less? Rather than bitching about their “bloated wages,” they *should* be demanding that they be paid what they’re worth. But fine, we’ll play your game: let’s have this race to the bottom. We’ll turn this country into a nation to be exploited by multinationals in much the same way that Indian and China are. First one to the lowest possible wages wins. How’s that work for you? We’ll make American a Third World nation yet.

    Enigma

  12. #12 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    March 10, 2009

    Fundamentally, people when voting have a right to do so without people looking over their shoulders.

    Josh, the secret ballot is not so secret. Also, the certification process leading up to the ballot is an opportunity for the employer to intimidate workers out of voting for the union because it grants an automatic delay.

    Under current labor law, workers can select union representation either through an election process or through majority sign-up (also known as “card check”). However, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board will certify a union as the exclusive representative of employees only if it is selected by a secret ballot NLRB election. Such an election is held if more than 30 percent of employees in a bargaining unit sign cards asking for representation by a union. Yet a company can refuse to bargain with a union chosen by workers through majority sign-up, even if 100 percent of the workers want to be represented by the union. The choice of whether to use an election process or majority sign-up to form the union is now exclusively controlled by companies. If enacted, the Employee Free Choice Act would require the NLRB to certify a bargaining representative without directing an election if a majority of the bargaining unit employees signed such cards through the majority sign-up process.[1]

    It’s from Wikipedia, but it is the only source I could find in a quick search that wasn’t completely biased either by unions or by “Chamber of Commerce” groups.

  13. #13 Stephanie Z
    March 10, 2009

    If you want to know what the EFCA does and doesn’t do, you can find the info here, including a link to the text of the bill and a white paper on it. This is information prepared by management consultants to tell companies what they can expect from the bill if it passes. In other words, it’s their job to be as accurate as possible. If they aren’t, no one hires them.

    For the record, anyone saying it would eliminate secret ballots is either, yes, lying or too damned ignorant to be allowed to vote on the bill.

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    March 10, 2009

    too damned ignorant to be allowed to vote on the bill.

    But that would not be democracy.

    Which is why we need to start viewing education as a pillar of society. I mean, many of know it is, but it is not recognized as such culturally or officially.

  15. #15 Stephanie Z
    March 10, 2009

    By be allowed, I of course mean be voted into office in the first place. We also need to start viewing education as a qualification for representing our fellow citizens.

  16. #16 AK
    March 11, 2009

    @Stephanie Z:

    For the record, anyone saying it would eliminate secret ballots is either, yes, lying or too damned ignorant to be allowed to vote on the bill.

    This is a semantic quibble. What it will eliminate is the protection of the secret ballot in union organizing efforts. It does this by allowing organizers a channel in which intimidation can be used without the protections of a secret ballot. From the actual text (PDF) of the bill (2nd hand via your link, reformatted):

    SEC. 2. STREAMLINING UNION CERTIFICATION.
    (a) IN GENERAL.—Section 9(c) of the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. 159(c)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

    ‘‘(6) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, whenever a petition shall have been filed by an employee or group of employees or any individual or labor organization acting in their behalf alleging that a majority of employees in a unit appropriate for the purposes of col1lective bargaining wish to be represented by an individual or labor organization for such purposes, the Board shall investigate the petition. If the Board finds that a majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for bargaining has signed valid authorizations designating the individual or labor organization specified in the petition as their bargaining representative and that no other individual or labor organization is currently certified or recognized as the exclusive representative of any of the employees in the unit, the Board shall not direct an election but shall certify the individual or labor organization as the representative described in subsection (a).

    Your comment re education is well taken, but that doesn’t seem to prevent the unconscionable twisting of the truth.

    IMO a better approach would be to require a secret ballot vote whenever an appropriate proportion of employees (e.g. 25%) request it, or when plausible charges of coercion by the employer(s) have been made.

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    March 11, 2009

    Why is there a quibble here at all? [Management ~ big businees ~ corporate interests ~ Republicans] vs. [Unions ~ regular people ~ democratic interests ~Democrats]

    This is a bill proposed by the later and opposed by the former. The latter are in power. The former can take a hike.

  18. #18 Stephanie Z
    March 11, 2009

    AK, that provision takes the decision on whether to recognize a majority card count in favor of unionization out of the hands of the employer (where it now solely resides) and puts it in the hands of a neutral third party. That’s it. It doesn’t prevent employees from electing to have a secret ballot.

    Of course, claiming that it will eliminate secret ballots is perhaps not completely dishonest on the part of the Republicans. Maybe they’re just recognizing that there’s so much wrong with the leverage and influence the employer has during the secret ballot process that no one will want to have one.

  19. #19 AK
    March 11, 2009

    @Greg Laden:

    This is a bill proposed by the later and opposed by the former. The latter are in power. The former can take a hike.

    Not quite that simple. Both sides to the recent elections are large coalitions, each member of which has a different agenda. Maddow even has to admit that the Dem’s are “losing the PR war” on this one. Seems to me there isn’t nearly as much constituency behind this initiative as there was behind Obama.

    The fact is it isn’t just employers who see (some) union organizers as little more than gangsters, and I have a suspicion that lots of people who got in bed with the Democratic party to get rid of Bush are in for a rude awakening in the morning. (Come back and read this in a year and tell me what you think.)

    @Stephanie Z:

    AK, that provision takes the decision on whether to recognize a majority card count in favor of unionization out of the hands of the employer (where it now solely resides) and puts it in the hands of a neutral third party. That’s it. It doesn’t prevent employees from electing to have a secret ballot.

    It allows organizers to pressure employees to sign cards until there’s a majority. The “employees [...] electing to have a secret ballot” doesn’t take place in a secret ballot election itself, so threats of reprisals (by either side) remain a liability.

    I agree that employers shouldn’t be the ones to decide whether there’s going to be an election with secret ballots. What I’m saying is that nobody should have a choice: the secret ballot should be required so nobody can apply undue pressure in either direction.

    [...]there’s so much wrong with the leverage and influence the employer has during the secret ballot process that no one will want to have one.

    This is an example of what Himmler (I think it was) called the “Big Lie”: tell a lie often enough (and loudly enough) and people will believe it. Only an idiot (or a Himmler victim) would believe that anybody would have more “leverage and influence” in a secret ballot process than in one where everybody knew how everybody else voted.

    The reason the secret ballot is an American tradition is that everybody (with any sense) knows voters are safer to vote how they really think than with an open ballot (or “majority card count” or any other circumlocution).

  20. #20 Stephanie Z
    March 11, 2009

    AK, rather than trying to discredit me by calling names, why don’t you go find the part of the bill or the current regulations where employees would not be able to opt for a secret ballot if they found it as palatble as you do.

    While you’re at it, why don’t you stop ignoring that the involvement of a third party in validating the card count also gives recourse to anyone who felt pressured to sign a card. If you’re so all-fired concerned about privacy, try lobbying to add a provision that any complaints of coersion–on the part of the company or the organizers–reported to the Board will be anonymous?

    Then go figure out what the rest of the bill does, the good-faith bargaining provisions. Those are pretty important too.

  21. #21 Stephanie Z
    March 11, 2009

    Also, AK, your portrayal of organized labor as corrupt is much, much funnier than it would have been, say, two years ago. Or maybe that would have to be pre-Enron. Or…hmm.

    Yeah, I’m still not seeing how a neutral third party is a bad thing.

  22. #22 Greg Laden
    March 11, 2009

    AK: It is typical and utterly expected that in attacking the EFCA those who are essentially against labor will distort the facts. Typically this consists of the utter distortion that this Federal legislation (now stalled in the Senate, thanks to Norm Coleman) would put an end to the secret ballot in in union elections at the time of organizations. This is simply not true, and at this point I would hope people more or less understand this. But, the very fact that this bald faced lie is central to the anti EFCA move belies the low moral standing of that position. The fact that many people don’t get this bespeaks not a valid alternative view, but rather, ignorance born of politically motivated misinformation and nothing more. Adding Nazis to the mix is just more of the same. Unjustified and despicable.

  23. #23 AK
    March 11, 2009

    @Stephanie Z:

    AK, rather than trying to discredit me by calling names [...]

    I technically wasn’t (trying to) call names, I was accusing you of treating your audience as such (idiots). Claiming that a secret ballot aids coercion and intimidation strikes me as double-speak: what it actually does is prevent coercion and intimidation (by the other side).

    [...] why don’t you go find the part of the bill or the current regulations where employees would not be able to opt for a secret ballot if they found it as palatble [sic] as you do.

    If I’ve untangled your negatives correctly, you’re saying that employees would still be able to “opt for a secret ballot if [...]“. My point is that the option would not, itself, be protected from intimidation. In addition to the things referenced by others above, I’m talking about things like stolen tools, toolboxes hidden, tools checked out from the company bin “borrowed” and often misused, etc. This in a machine shop, although similar things happen in any mechanic’s environment.

    While you’re at it, why don’t you stop ignoring that the involvement of a third party in validating the card count also gives recourse to anyone who felt pressured to sign a card. If you’re so all-fired concerned about privacy, try lobbying to add a provision that any complaints of coersion [sic] –on the part of the company or the organizers–reported to the Board will be anonymous?

    All of those are good things, but IMO not enough. Secrecy and protection on the back end has a long habit of being much less reliable than on the front end. It’s a lot easier to tell somebody who’s pressuring you what they want to hear and then vote how you like than to take a chance that you’ll be protected from reprisals afterwards.

    Then go figure out what the rest of the bill does, the good-faith bargaining provisions. Those are pretty important too.

    As far as I can tell, they’re fine, but not worth losing the protection of the secret ballot (IMO).

    Also, AK, your portrayal of organized labor as corrupt is much, much funnier than it would have been, say, two years ago. Or maybe that would have to be pre-Enron. Or…hmm.

    Not to me. I lost faith in management honesty when companies started tying CEO bonuses to stock prices. It’s like what happens to a tree when you scrape huge amounts of bark off it: parasites swarm.

    I can still remember when Jimmy Hoffa got out of prison and promptly disappeared. Everybody knew at the time what the Teamsters were.

    I’m not saying all labor organizers are corrupt, just that the best way to protect from the ones who are is to prevent them up front from engaging in coercion and intimidation, rather than trying to patch things up on the back end.

    Yeah, I’m still not seeing how a neutral third party is a bad thing.

    I agree. I just think the neutral third party should be responsible for calling a secret-ballot election any time there’s any doubt.

  24. #24 AK
    March 11, 2009

    @Greg:

    It’s your blog. I’ll shut up.

  25. #25 Pierce R. Butler
    March 11, 2009

    … about the Lying GOP

    Is there any other kind?

  26. #26 Pierce R. Butler
    March 11, 2009

    … this Federal legislation (now stalled in the Senate, thanks to Norm Coleman) …

    ?!? How does an ex-Senator manage to do that?

  27. #27 Benjamin Geiger
    March 11, 2009

    Pierce R. Butler:

    This particular ex-Senator is still keeping his opponent from taking his seat. I would presume that’s how he’s stalling the bill.

  28. #28 Greg Laden
    March 11, 2009

    @Greg:

    It’s your blog. I’ll shut up.

    Huh???? What???? You should feel quite welcome to make your case!

    (Or is it the case that you’ve decided I’m right?!?!?)

    Peirce: The filibusterer breaker is our elected Senator, Al Franken. Coleman has Franken in court over the election, so he can’t go to Washington and be seated.

    No one who knows anything about this election thinks for a second that Coleman can win. The Coleman strategy, being paid for by the Republicans, is to keep the 60th democrat out of the Senate while they weather what they hope is a temporary surge in Obama’s public opinion.

  29. #29 Greg Laden
    March 11, 2009

    Ben, right. Our comments crossed in the intertubual.

  30. #30 Stephanie Z
    March 11, 2009

    AK, you keep talking like this bill makes secret elections harder to get. In fact:

    Now, for elections held under Section 9(c), if a majority of workers vote for representation, a decertification election under Section 9(e) may not be held sooner than twelve months after the original election. But for new Section 9(c) petition-based certifications EFCA, no such time restriction would apply, because no “valid election” would have been held. A 30% minority of workers could force a secret ballot decertification election as soon as they gathered their signatures.

    This feature of the NLRA after EFCA, if it were passed, makes remote the scenario speculatively proposed by anti-EFCA anti-Democratic candidate campaigners: that card-check certification will be achieved in some instances (the campaign propaganda implies usually) through false majorities created by coercion of workers who would otherwise vote “no” on a secret ballot, coercion conducted by a minority of pro-union workers upon others to sign a certification petition against their true will.

    In fact EFCA’s relation to Section 9(e) would provide a strong incentive for workers organizing a union through card-check certification to make sure they have not just majority support, but solid support by a substantial majority, because certification with signatures of a small and ambivalent or uncommitted majority could be challenged quickly by a determined minority, creating a situation in which either legitimate persuasion could succeed, or common and widespread employer anti-union intimidation tactics during organizing drives could be brought to bear. Any cases of a fraudulent pro-union false majority obtained by unscrupulous means would be rapidly reversed.

    EFCA is not a prescription for pro-union intimidation of anti-union workers. It is a prescription against current business attitudes that make almost standard practice out of aggressive and often illegal anti-union tactics, including firings, other retaliation, coercive mandatory captive audience meetings and other forms of intimidation, to deny workers their right to organize themselves in a union. That right is a human right, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international law, and a U.S. legal right, under Section 7 of the NLRA. Yet employers violate it routinely, treating the penalties incurred by unfair labor practices as a cost of doing business, and current law and regulation permit that to occur.

    Note that the 30% who petition for a decertification election can do so directly to the Board.

    You might want also to check your assumption that the only employees who would support any kind of intimidation or harassment of their fellows are those who support organizing. Your anti-union bias is showing.

  31. #31 Greg Laden
    March 11, 2009

    Stephanie: Right. And it is good to understand the election bit in context.

    The foundation of modern labor law is the Wagner Act of 1935 This law set up the way unions would be organized, and determined that the threshold would be a majority of workers in a workplace signing union authorization cards. Later, Management pushed through Taft Hartley (in the 1940s), which was vetoed by Truman but that veto was overruled. This gave management the right to ignore the union authorization cards and demand an election, supervised by the NLRB.

    Now, with an election coming up, one would think that fairness would prevail, but that is not how it works at all. In a local, state, or federal election for regular office, all parties are on the same terms and there are rules that disallow the use of in place power structures. Sometimes this simply means that the President has to walk from the West Wing to the East Wing to make a fund raising phone call, but much of this regulation is, as they say, well toothed and effective. But the workplace election is not set up this way at all. Management has a number of tools that traditionally trump the tools available to labor, and given a bit of time it is not too difficult for management to turn what started out as a majority into a minority. This includes using this scary rhetoric like “The union dues will exceed your pay raises” that we are seeing on this very thread.

  32. #32 Pierce R. Butler
    March 11, 2009

    Last I heard, even with Franken taking his seat, the Dark Side Party will still have 41 Senators, enough to paralyze Congress whenever they feel like – at least under the half-assed Majority Leader now in “power”.

    While Norm C can rightly be blamed for many things, in this case the political finger points to the ineptitude of Harry Reid (not to mention the obstructionist “Blue Dogs” who serve as his primary excuse, and the futile conciliatory policy of the White House).

  33. #33 Greg Laden
    March 11, 2009

    Not really. The actual number of dems plus indies is 60 with Franken, 59 without, so symbolically, this is very meaningful.

    But yes, it is symbolic. The actual dynamics are tricky and it depends. On stuff.

    Put it this way. This is like a baseball game. The number of votes one side or the other of sixty is base-ball score level, one or two or three. Franken is a guaranteed home run that simply is not going to happen for the Dems until Coleman backs off or the courts shut him down. It’s like hobbling the other team’s slugger every single inning. That sucks.

    It’s probably actually more like a hockey game but I know nothing about hockey so I can’t throw around technical terms like “slugger” if I use the hockey analogy.

  34. #34 AK
    March 11, 2009

    @Greg, Stephanie Z (I’m not going to try to separate points, it would just make the post confusing):

    It’s your blog. I’ll shut up.

    Huh???? What???? You should feel quite welcome to make your case!

    I guess I misunderstood your “Nazis” reference. In fact, Himmler is generally credited with the (modern) statement of that principle (big lie), something I heard repeatedly from my parents who lived through WWII.

    AK, you keep talking like this bill makes secret elections harder to get. In fact: (followed by long blockquote).

    Very well, I stand (somewhat) corrected. But this point doesn’t come up in Maddow’s blather, it doesn’t even come up in your first link (that I saw, should I go back and look further?) I didn’t react to this video by fully researching the issue, because Maddow’s point was very clear: as long as a “choice” of secret ballot elections was present, the idea that the secret ballot principle was being undercut was a lie. I saw nothing in her discussion, and nothing in your first argument, to contradict that. (Thus the “somewhat”. I admit I should have researched it first.)

    I still think it would be better to require the secret ballot up front, rather than require a 30% who object to go out on a limb by signing their names, and at least, they should be guaranteed anonymity.

    This is simply not true, and at this point I would hope people more or less understand this. But, the very fact that this bald faced lie is central to the anti EFCA move belies the low moral standing of that position. The fact that many people don’t get this bespeaks not a valid alternative view, but rather, ignorance born of politically motivated misinformation and nothing more.

    Not true. The primary cause is failure by supporters to trumpet the kind of argument Stephanie Z just linked to. If the precise logic of people’s arguments is addressed (say, by Maddow) rather than repeating vague statements, perhaps the Dem’s wouldn’t be “losing the PR war” on this one. (Just one sentence by Maddow regarding that 30% petition for recertification?)

    Adding Nazis to the mix is just more of the same. Unjustified and despicable.

    Not true. Saying that secret ballot elections enhance opportunities for coercion and intimidation still strikes me as double-speak.

    the workplace election is not set up this way at all. Management has a number of tools that traditionally trump the tools available to labor, and given a bit of time it is not too difficult for management to turn what started out as a majority into a minority. This includes using this scary rhetoric like “The union dues will exceed your pay raises” that we are seeing on this very thread.

    And don’t they sometimes? And don’t the promises by union organizers that they won’t sometimes turn out to get broken? Still, if this is a problem, I don’t see why the bill shouldn’t take steps to reform the way elections are managed, rather than providing a way to bypass them.

  35. #35 AK
    March 11, 2009

    Oh, yes, and I admit to an anti-union bias, based on personal experience working for a company with the highest-paid janitors and lowest paid machinists in Seattle (that may be apocryphal, but it’s what we all said).

    More recently, working as a systems person, my greatest impatience has been with management, but I don’t air my complaints on that subject very often, and wouldn’t do so here unless it contributed something to the discussion.

  36. #36 Stephanie Z
    March 11, 2009

    AK, the reason that the pro-labor side is losing is that people keep thinking we can’t mean it when we say the other side is, flat-out, lying. You even accused me of lying about it. This, despite the fact that they’ve been lying about these kinds of issues for decades. You’ve been spoonfed false equivalence and you’ve swallowed it. The sides are not equal, and the truth does not lie somewhere in the middle.

    If you’re now ready to do that research, I suggest you start by looking at what leads up to a secret ballot on organization. Look at the timing and look at who has access to employees during that time. Then check into how much is paid for those unfair labor penalties. Imagine what that would look like added to people’s paychecks.

  37. #37 George Myers
    March 11, 2009

    I thought the largest union in the US was the teachers union. My father’s local in NYC 804 of the Teamsters produced the last president Ron Carey a former United Parcel Service driver. James P. Hoffa is currently the president after there were aspersions provided by government accusations of Mr. Carey that reflected people inside his organization. Mr. Carey passed on recently. Mr. Hoffa’s sister is a judge.

    I work in “contract” archaeology required by various agencies and circumstances and there was a brief attempt to organize part of the Operating Engineers who run many of the backhoes and excavation equipment. It was to be called Local 141 after the length of the hypotenuse of a diagonal used to lay-out 1 meter by 1 meter squares for example, using two tapes. It was supposed to protect federal stated wages from misuse by employers who low-bid on federal projects but did not follow the federal contract requirements for payroll.

    I wonder if the FBI used union operators looking for the current Teamsters president’s father, Jimmy Hoffa, whose release conditions, no return to politics, agreed to with President Nixon, he violated. I hope so, Teamsters also drive backhoes. My dad used to say the government ruined unions when they found mandatory meeting attendance “unconstitutional” and allowed the representative government structure into them, open to the same type of corruption the US government is susceptible to.

  38. #38 Pierce R. Butler
    March 12, 2009

    AK: Himmler is generally credited with the (modern) statement of that principle (big lie), something I heard repeatedly from my parents who lived through WWII.

    Your parents were misinformed, or you mis-heard: drop the “mm”, replace with “t”, and you’ve got it.

    Prof. L – I’m too lazy to dig harder, but http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate backs up my count: 41 certifi(ed/able) Repubs in our esteemed upper chamber, 56 Dems, 1 Independent, 1 “Independent Democrat”, 1 unresolved.

  39. #39 AK
    March 14, 2009

    @Stephanie Z:

    AK, the reason that the pro-labor side is losing is that people keep thinking we can’t mean it when we say the other side is, flat-out, lying. You even accused me of lying about it.

    Herewith my apology for that accusation, albeit late. (Like any normal human being, I had to be really sure I owed an apology before being willing to make it.)

    As it happens, we were actually talking at cross-purposes. When I hear (or say) the words “secret ballot”, I’m talking about the Secret Ballot, an important principle of real democracy. Evidently, Maddow (and you) have used the term for the specific process currently mandated by law in unionization. The simple fact is that this bill will strip whatever protections of the Secret Ballot (principle) remain after the current process has been corrupted by the activities of employers. Granted, if 30% of the employees are willing to sign up for it they can still get an election, but since that sign-up process does not itself include a Secret Ballot, the field has been left open for coercion and intimidation (above and beyond what slips through via the abuses).

    I suggest you start by looking at what leads up to a secret ballot on organization. Look at the timing and look at who has access to employees during that time. Then check into how much is paid for those unfair labor penalties. Imagine what that would look like added to people’s paychecks.

    I’m not surprised that my research turned up a number of discussions of how the current process has been subverted, considering the arguments already made in this thread. I’d include many links, but it would just get my post stuck in the spam queue. The best (so far): Neither Free Nor Fair which includes a link to the general report. One generally quoted statement is that election conditions in a unionization vote are worse than what we see in elections in tyrannies abroad.

    I certainly agree that this is something that needs to be fixed. I don’t agree that throwing out the baby with the bath is the answer. The answer, IMO, is to implement a mandatory timely election process where the abuses Dr. Lafer has documented have been forbidden.

  40. #40 Stephanie Z
    March 15, 2009

    AK, thank you for the apology. As for the Secret Ballot, it’s never been quite what you think. Also EFCA is designed largely to address those abuses. If you want to know more, try this post.

Current ye@r *