Triad of CEOs Offer "Third Way" Proposal As Alternative to EFCA

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by mkrishnan, Mar 21, 2009.

  1. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #1
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/21/AR2009032101449.html?hpid=topnews

    I haven't seen much discussion of this act, and I just now saw this plan.... any thoughts? Does it have merit? It seems striking to me that an alternate plan was drafted entirely by executive teams at large companies that have little union representation (a small group of Costco employees are Teamsters, though) and not in any kind of collaboration with Labor.

    There are a few things I admit I don't understand too much about:

    1) I've heard numerous complaints that the card-check organizing is anti-democratic because it does not use secret ballots. The claims always seem to come from rightist lawmakers or corporate executives who seem to feel that the system would be used by unions to bully workers into signing on. The only other voice I hear is that of the unions, who claim it would prevent employers from doing the bullying. Is there actually any data that says what would happen if we did not require secret ballots for organizing? Are there other major countries that allow unions to form this way?

    2) I'm not that impressed by the CEOs' rejection of binding arbitration. I'd like to know more about evidence that this actually gets abused.

    Overall, this plan doesn't really sound like an inventive "third way" to me -- it sounds like a very rough point-by-point compromise, and I don't see it offering a lot of strategic value. Although I was never particularly wedded to the EFCA / card-check plan, I'm not really understanding how this plan is better. All jokes about the fact that Starbucks can't even brew coffee properly, aside. ;)
     
  2. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #2
    It all sounds of smoke and mirrors, but the "card-check" provisions MUST be in secret!!!

    As for the rest, if they choose to price themselves out of the current market-place, then they only have themselves to blame. (Except Global free-trade. :rolleyes: )
     
  3. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #3
    So this is a key (and union supported) part of the measure, I think, that they would not be secret? At least not in the sense of a secret ballot taken after the card drive. Is your feeling on that that a union would use this to ramrod themselves into action and abuse the workers?
     
  4. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #4
    You bet it is. That is their modus operandi. Disgusting buggers.
     
  5. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #5
    Binding arbitration sounds like a good idea actually. Nice and equal between the two sides.
     
  6. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #6
    I think it is a horrible idea.

    This law gives way to much power to the unions. Laws already in place pretty much tie the hand of employers. Unions already lie to get people to join and there is little employers can do to counter those lies.

    The secret ballot should stay. The cards are far from secret and if I was an employer and I saw the numbers getting close to being high for a union I would be issues some layoffs and the targets would be the ones who signed the cards. In a right to work state hard to sue. I do not have to give a reason why I am letting them go.

    I think the arbitration is crap. The employer should have the right to say no to the union and when the union strikes be willing to fight it and break the union. Not my fault the union is not willing to come to terms that make breaking the union unprofitable in the long term.
     
  7. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #7
    In any country that has employment law that isn't a total joke that would be highly illegal and the company would get in big trouble.


    While unions don't want to be too powerful like they were in the UK in the 1970's and early 1980's they should have some power.

    Would you like it if your factory pay was reduced to $150/month to keep you competitive with China?

    EDIT: And you do realise that strikes hurt the employer as well as the employees, and that the arbitrator will go somewhere between the two sides which is what strikes would probably achieve anyway - except this way noone loses large amounts of money. Remember Boeing from the autumn?
     
  8. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #8
    I do hope this economic downturn will be an opportunity for unions and employers to build a stronger alliance. I think, in the US, the post-9/11 crisis actually really helped make a lot of this progress in manufacturing. One way or another, unions represent a large portion of the American middle class, and they act as a potential stabilizing factor against turning the US into an even wider disparity. If Eraserhead's version is a bit extreme, nonetheless the last decade has seen a huge erosion in $35-50k / annum jobs in manufacturing and a huge upturn in $8/hr, no benefits jobs in retail (e.g. Walmart). This is not a good trend for our country.
     
  9. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #9
    In the US, it's just fine. Business has way too much power and has for far too long. It's a myth that unions are destroying companies. I would love to unionize at my company- we've been screwed so many times already.
     
  10. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #10
    I believe that $150/month is roughly what you actually earn as a Chinese factory worker, that's why I gave the figure ;).

    What about the car industry unions? Aren't they a bit strong?
     
  11. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #11
    Not really. The caved on so much lately. And there's so little left of that industry now, that it's kind of an irrelevant example.

    What we need are white collar unions these days.
     
  12. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #12
    I meant the likelihood of it literally happening in the US. ;)

    In the US, they are at the Ford/GM/Chrysler plants and a very small number of suppliers, but not at most supplier plants, and not at the transplant plants that produce cars under Japanese, Korean, or European marques. They've been steadily declining in workforce size for a long time, because union auto assembly plants have been closing but new ones rarely open. I think the automotive union story in the US has been most mired by three basic issues: (1) that the auto companies and the unions don't really have the willingness to work together to make the plants work better, and (2) that the auto companies haven't taken very much responsibility for preventing the human cost of their fall from grace, and (3) that the unions have never understood basic market realities about cars in the US, and so they keep trying to push the automakers into sustaining production of cars and trucks no one wants instead of helping them to really change.
     
  13. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #13
    Don't be so sure, I know the Chinese are corrupt, but I don't think the Americans are less corrupt than the Chinese these days. Frankly I'd rate them as approximately equally developed these days - both are less developed than most of Europe frankly (Italy and most of Eastern Europe are exceptions).
     
  14. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #14
    I'd say we're verging in worse than China.
     
  15. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #15
    I agree, as the Chinese are improving over time.
     
  16. it5five macrumors 65816

    it5five

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    #16
    I would be livid if Congress accepted this "third way" as a compromise bill. I'm a proud union member (I will never work a non-union job again in my life) and a big supporter of EFCA. The bill is not dangerous to anyone except corporations that have been allowed to treat their workers like trash for decades. As it stands right now, management intimidates workers through the secret ballet process. Rep. George Miller (D-CA) summed it up pretty well:

     
  17. adroit macrumors 6502

    adroit

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    #17
    I still haven't seen a convincing reason as to why the secret ballot helps employers. The quote you gave didn't help me understand.

    While I am quite left on almost all topics, I have to admit that organized labour is the biggest exception. I've worked in and out of their influence and have found that productivity and efficiency is always higher in when there isn't some grubby union fingers in the mix.

    I can guarantee that I will never work another union job in my life unless it is my absolute last choice.

    That being said, I fully understand that there are certain companies out there, cough Walmart cough, that are so callous and unfair that unionizing the workforce is the best option.
     
  18. it5five macrumors 65816

    it5five

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    #18
    How is this not a convincing reason?

    With the secret ballot the employer has time before the vote to schedule these sorts of "meetings". With the cards it is different. Fifty percent turned in and there is no time for pre-vote intimidation.
     
  19. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #19
    I too am confused about this... secret ballot is very rarely claimed to help anyone but the employers (primarily by making it harder to form a union and giving them more time to try to work laborers out of joining). Perhaps it helps the laborer who doesn't want to be in a unionization, but it's basically that and some vague claim of anti-democracy that sustains the secret ballot approach.
     
  20. it5five macrumors 65816

    it5five

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    #20
    Maybe this well help. An MIT professor and a student did a study on the effectiveness of the secret-ballot process.

    http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2007/06/21/modernizing_labor_law/

    Some key quotes from the article (although it is very short, so I'd recommend just reading the whole thing:

    Also, before anyone comes in here spreading lies, EFCA will not do away with the secret-ballot process. If the workers want a secret ballot, they can have one. However, I don't think you will find many employees willing to put themselves through that process when they can just get 50% + 1 with the card-check process.
     
  21. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #21
    ^^ Well if the facts were checked then something would actually have to be done to change the status quo. And then someone might not get to build another swimming pool - and we can't have that ;).
     
  22. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #22
    Nice... still waiting for the evidence that secret ballots harm employees, but... I might be waiting rather a long time. ;)
     
  23. it5five macrumors 65816

    it5five

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    #23
    I don't understand what you're looking for. That article alone and the statistics proved that secret ballots are harmful to employees. The employer can manipulate the secret ballot process enough to make unionizing difficult if not impossible for employees who want a union. That meets my definition of "harmful", but I have no idea what you define it as. Maybe you could tell me what "harmful" means to you so I can get some sort of idea of what you're looking for.
     
  24. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #24
    My apologies for using sarcasm (and apologies on Eraserhead's behalf too, if you were talking to him, as I think he was doing the same). ;)

    In plainer English, I already suspected that the requirement of second phase secret ballots after the card drive was essentially an obstruction of letting groups who wanted unions succeed in organizing them. The analysis you provided and the data that supports it backs this contention quite well, leading me to continue to be in favor of the card check approach.
     
  25. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #25
    ^^ My reading of the article says that secret ballots as they are currently carried out is bad. But that if elections could be held in closer to 100% of cases where there is some request for unionism then they might be better than the card idea. But that data has to be found for that, and there isn't any at the moment.
     

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