Tag Archives: Union-busting

Grover Norquist, “Boss” of Tennessee

Volkswagen decided to build a factory in Tennessee to manufacture VWs for the American market. This is what the United States has always said foreign companies should do when they serve an American market.

The workers at the plant have asked for an election to determine as to whether the United Auto Workers union would represent them. The VW company, used to heavily unionized factories in Germany, have no problem with that and even invited the UAW in to make a presentation to the workers.

This should be a matter for the Company and its employees. But guess who has a problem with it? Someone who does not work there, someone who does not live there and someone who does not own VW stock. GROVER NORQUIST, sitting in his Washington office, has a problem with it. Grover is the hobgoblin who controls the Republican Party and orders its Congress-critters about.  Podunk may elect a Representative but Grover tells him how to vote.

Grover sent the word out to his minions in Tennessee that Unions are not to be allowed at the VW plant. The minions in the Tennessee Legislature got busy and passed State laws which would deny any State benefit, tax credit, deduction or aid previously promised to get the Company to relocate to Tennessee if and when a Union is selected. Grover’s Tennessee minions would prefer to shut down the factory and dispense with several thousand jobs than allow a Union to be duly elected by the workers.

The concept of “Class War” is not a simple bugaboo to frighten the gullible. It is going on, it is being fought and it is being won by the One Percent BECAUSE they know they are fighting it. They will buy elections, they will buy politicians, they will buy courts and they will buy propaganda to persuade us that they are not at war against us. They don’t fight fair and they will win unless we begin to fight back.


Wal-Mart, Corporate Criminal, Caught (Finally)

Excerpt from SALON (January 16, 2014) as distributed by PORTSIDE:

Wal-Mart illegally disciplined, threatened and surveilled workers – including unlawfully firing 19 people – according to a complaint released by the National Labor Relations Board Wednesday afternoon.

“Now the federal government is confirming what we already know,” fired worker Barbara Collins said in an emailed statement. “We have the right to speak out, and Walmart fired me and my coworkers illegally.” Collins is among 23 activists fired by the retail giant after joining a strike by the union-backed, non-union labor group OUR Walmart last June.

The NLRB complaint, similar to an indictment, lists incidents involving more than 60 workers in 34 states, as well as a Wal-Mart official’s warning on national television that, “If associates are scheduled to work on Black Friday, we expect them to show up and to do their job. And if they don’t, depending on the circumstances, there could be consequences.” It also cites the memo, read to employees by managers in various stores in February 2013, stating that “Should you participate in further union-orchestrated intermittent work stoppages that are part of a common plan or design to disrupt and confuse the Company’s business operations, you should expect that the Company will treat any such absence as it would any other unexcused absence.”

* * * * * * *

As I’ve reported, Wal-Mart’s effort to deter activism appear to have taken a toll: While organizers said 400-some employees joined a Black Friday walkout in November 2012, they’ve released no count for how many Wal-Mart employees were involved in the protests or civil disobedience on Black Friday 2013. Wednesday also brought the release, by Occupy Wall Street, of a cache of internal Wal-Mart documents regarding the company’s campaign against OUR Walmart. As reported by Gawker, these include a PowerPoint presentation on the “Duty of Loyalty” of managers to “Support Walmart’s position on how we treat people” and “Report union activity to the Labor Relations Hotline immediately.” As MSNBC reported, they also include a list of “Early Warning Signs” including workers “speaking negatively about wages and benefits” or “ceasing conversations when leadership approaches.” Wal-Mart spokesperson Kory Lundberg confirmed the documents’ authenticity to MSNBC’s Ned Resnikoff, and said they were “important to make sure that our associates are receiving accurate and timely information.”

WAL-MART is an enemy of working men and women in this country and overseas.  It will continue to be so as long as it gets away with it. Workers should use Labor Actions and Consumers Boycotts until the Corporate miscreant is rehabilitated so that it may function as a good corporate citizen.

FFI: See SALON or the PORTSIDE news service

Free the Shareholders!

The State of Michigan subject to a Republican stranglehold on the state government recently enacted a law which prevents a Union from requiring that workers benefiting from a Union contract contribute dues to support that Union. This is defended as a “freedom”, workers will be free from being forced to support Unions. In particular, the argument holds that this frees workers from having to support candidates for public office with whom they may disagree.

Supposedly the act of the Michigan Legislature and Governor are in advancement of freedom.

I own stock. The corporations in which I hold stock can by decision of the Supreme Court contribute to political candidates without my consent. The money being contributed to candidates chosen by the CEO or Board is money that could have been distributed to shareholders as profits. I want my money. Based on what the Republicans say they want me to be free, will they now adopt legislation prohibiting Corporations from using Shareholder money? Or allowing shareholders to opt out?

No, they won’t because this is not about Freedom. It is about power. The Republicans adopted this law to reduce the money available to pro-labor political candidates. Corporations give money to Republican candidates, even the money that should be distributed to shareholding Democrats is given to Corporate-designated Republicans.

I called my State Legislator, a Republican, and asked her to protect Shareholder freedom and stop Corporations from using shareholder profits for activities which shareholders disapprove. She said that if I had a problem with the Corporations in which I invest, I should take it up at a Shareholders Meeting, that it isn’t the State’s business to get involved in the private affairs of Corporations. Then why can the State get involved in the private affairs of Unions?

States should extend the same “freedoms” they have given workers to shareholders or they should refrain from intervention. One or the other is fair, one and not the other is simply a power grab.

And Bless Us Everyone

AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY is the Koch-funded fake grassroots organization which has coordinated the attack on unions in Michigan as it had earlier spearheaded the Wisconsin assault on public employee unions. Although AfP protests that it is a broadly based citizens group, the fact is that 84% of its funding comes from the Kochs.

It is interesting to note in the current struggle for labor rights that the AfP had previously lauded Southern politicians who have spoken and written in praise of slavery. An AfP fair-headed boy, Jon Hubbard, a Republican member of the Arkansas House wrote that he considered Slavery to have been a blessing to the blacks.

We believe this betrays an intellectual consistency which the Kochs and their stooges would prefer to hide. The ultimate goal of Union-busting, Privatization and Deregulation is to spread the “blessing” of labor-slavery to an ever-widening circle. The next go-around will be a racially-neutral slavery in which slaves of all races, nationalities, ages and so forth will equally be blessed in service to the Kochs and their ilk working the fields and factories of China, Indonesia and Michigan.

The Real Meaning of a So-called “Right to Work” Law


The Republican-dominated Michigan Legislature is considering imposing a “Right to Work” law on Michigan workers. The modern Union was born in Michigan and the Repugnanticans are seeking to kill it there. This is all done under the guise of “freedom” with its advocates contending that they are defending the freedom of workers to not pay union dues. Would they also allow shareholders of Corporations to opt out of paying for the massive political contributions bestowed on favored candidates? Why should a shareholder be forced to forego profits that are then distributed to political stooges? It appears that the Repugs are only concerned for the “freedom” of workers and not the freedom of shareholders.

What’s Goin On In Michigan

They Say “Right to Work”; They Mean “Kill the Union”

There is an effort afoot to make Michigan a “right to
work” state. Unfortunately, most citizens are unaware
of what “right to work” means or the implications if
such a law is passed. Our purpose here is to explain
the law, map the arguments for and against, and
describe potential effects for Michigan should such a
proposal become law.

To begin, the term “right to work” (hereafter RTW) is a
misnomer. RTW has nothing to do with the right of a
person to seek and accept gainful employment. Rather,
RTW laws prohibit a labor union and employer from
negotiating union security clauses. What are union
security clauses? Union security clauses are contract
provisions that regulate the collection of union dues.
In non-RTW states, such as Michigan, the parties are
free to negotiate a range of union security options.
Unions typically prefer “union shop” terms that require
every person benefiting from union representation to
pay union dues. In RTW states, the parties are barred
from negotiating union security clauses, making the
default the “open shop,” where the payment of dues is
optional for workers represented by the union. Between
these two policy poles are arrangements that require
represented persons to pay a proportion of full dues,
and even to allow objectors to unionization to
contribute dues to charity. Such arrangements are,
however, also proscribed under the RTW proposal before

Labor unions are nearly universal in their opposition
to RTW laws, and their argument is straightforward:
each person that benefits directly from union
representation should pay their fair share of the cost
of that representation. In the very least, represented
persons should pay a dues amount to cover the expense
of negotiating and administering the labor agreement
(what are referred to as collective bargaining
activities). For unions, this is just since, by law,
they are required to represent all persons within a
bargaining unit. It is critical to appreciate that
although unions have some input into the composition of
the bargaining unit, they cannot exclude persons that
simply do not want unionization.

It is the National Labor Relations Board, or similar
agency at the state level, that holds final judgment
over bargaining unit membership. Determination is based
on “community of interest” criteria (e.g. similar
skills, proximity, and so forth). Any job meeting those
criteria is included, regardless of how a particular
individual holding a job feels about unionization.
Then, if a majority of workers in the bargaining unit
elect to unionize, union leaders must represent all
unit members fairly and without prejudice.

Supporters of RTW laws advance two major arguments.
First is that RTW laws make a state more attractive to
investment, and that passage of RTW law will lead to
job growth. While such statements may sound attractive
to a state that is facing economic hardship, the
evidence here is in dispute. Like Michigan, nearly
every state in the union has lost manufacturing jobs
over the last six to eight years, but it is unclear
whether the rates of job loss are related to RTW laws.
Our economic problems in Michigan are due primarily to
the woes in the auto industry, which RTW would not fix.
When making location decisions businesses rate factors
such as the quality of the regional workforce, the
regulatory environment, and tax incentives before ever
considering RTW laws.

The second and main argument for RTW is rooted in
libertarian ideology: individuals should not be
required to financially support any collective, unions
in this case, against their will. This “free
association” position focuses on the inherently
coercive practice of demanding a sacrifice from all
that benefit from a collective endeavor. Coercion
exists when an individual objects to the purpose or
activities of the collective, yet is unable to withhold
their support. In the U.S., a workplace becomes
unionized when a majority of the employees in a
bargaining unit petition for union representation. This
“50 percent plus 1” method of determination almost
guarantees the presence of a minority group that did
not want a union. Further, in many instances a person
gains union coverage by accepting employment at a
worksite that is already unionized, without ever having
the opportunity to vote for or against unionization. In
a non-RTW state, a labor union and employer can agree
to a union security clause that requires all covered
persons to pay dues to finance collective bargaining
activities. In such situations, someone seeking to
avoid paying dues to the union has three options: exit
their job, convince union leadership to negotiate an
open shop, or persuade fellow workers to decertify the
union. Given that the last two outcomes are hard to
achieve, the most viable option for dissenters is to
work elsewhere. Thus, the term “right to work” means,
in its elongated form, the right to work in a unionized
setting, and reap the benefits of collective
representation, without having to contribute toward the
cost of obtaining those benefits.

And the benefits are indisputable. Depending on the
occupation, unionized workers earn wages that are ten
to forty percent higher than their nonunion
counterparts. The positive differential for other forms
of compensation, such as health care insurance and
pensions, is even greater. Perhaps more important than
economics, however, are matters involving justice.
Nearly all union contracts feature an informal form of
due process: a grievance procedure that ends in final
and binding arbitration through which unions resolve
disputes over the contract and employer discipline. As
such, in most union settings an employer must show
proof that a worker committed a wrongdoing in order to
discharge them. By contrast, in a non-union setting
workers are “at will” and can be discharged for any
reason (or none at all) that is not proscribed by
federal law.

It is important to note these benefits, because while
promoting free association and individual liberty sound
noble, the use of such concepts to advance RTW
legislation belie a less lofty motive: to undermine the
economic and political power of wage-earners.

As the financiers of the RTW program are well-aware,
when workers act collectively they gain power at work
and in society. In states that have passed RTW
legislation, the wages and benefits of all workers,
union and non-union, are lower than national averages.

One reason is that the gains by unionized workers spill
into the non-union sectors through the so-called
“threat effect”: in the presence of a strong regional
union movement, employers with a non-union workforce
will raise wages and benefits to discourage employees
from unionizing. Remove the threat and non-union
employers have greater latitude to lower compensation,
to require workers to perform dangerous tasks or work
in unhealthy environs, or to treat workers without
dignity. This is the hidden agenda behind the RTW
effort: strengthen the hand of employers by passing a
law that weakens the vanguard institutions promoting
economic and social equity for wage-earners. In this
sense, RTW is both a bald attack on organized labor as
well as a veiled assault on wageearners.

To understand how RTW laws weaken organized labor it
useful to couch this discussion in theory. Social
scientists that study collective behavior often refer
to the “collective action problem” for movement
development. It begins with the premise that any
collective endeavor needs resources such as volunteer
effort, money, or other assets to succeed.
Unfortunately, individuals that stand to enjoy the
fruits of the collective also have an incentive to
avoid making any contribution, especially if they
believe the collective will succeed without their
support. With too many “free riders,” of course, the
collective becomes resource-starved, causing it to
under-perform or fail. To minimize this problem, rules
are necessary that limit the ability of an individual
to shirk their obligation to the collective. There are
many examples of this phenomenon in society, but the
most obvious is taxation for funding public services.
Politicians may debate the level of tax, how taxes are
collected, or how taxes are spent, but there is no
question that it would be a disaster to allow the
payment of taxes to be optional. Compulsory taxation is
necessary to ensure the adequate financing of public

Similarly, for organized labor, union security
provisions are the rules that resolve the collective
action problem. A union shop simply mandates that
everyone pays their fair share. Open shop arrangements,
on the other hand, are problematic because they present
incentives for employees to refrain from contributing
to the union, and “free ride” on the sacrifices of
dues-paying members. Ultimately the financial support
necessary to operate a union is undermined.

So what are the predictable consequences if Michigan
becomes a RTW state? To answer that question, we need
to first map how unions affect our society. The most
mentioned role that unions play is in the economic
system, as a bargaining agent for workers. As described
above, unions use their collective power to gain a more
equitable share from production, and also to negotiate
rules that improve the level of justice at work. Under
RTW laws, existing unions would direct resources toward
internal member mobilizing in an effort to retain this
role. This redirection of resources, however, would
mean fewer funds for new member organizing, and
Michigan would likely experience a diminished threat
effect. A second recognized role for labor is in the
political system. Labor unions have a long history of
pursuing legislation that benefits all wage-earners:
higher minimum wage laws, universal health care, health
and safety protections, to name a few. Union’s leverage
to achieve gains in these areas is directly related to
their ability to mobilize support during the political
cycle. As such, unions operate telephone banks, engage
in member education, and canvass communities to inform
their members and the public to get out the vote. Under
RTW laws we can expect resources for these activities
to diminish, resulting in lower voter turnout among the
working class and a political system that is less
responsive to Michigan’s non-rich. Finally, labor
unions are active in civic affairs. As human
institutions embedded in our communities, unions
frequently organize collections on behalf of the less
fortunate, they are among the largest givers to
charitable organizations, such as the United Way, and
they even occasionally fund popular community
activities, such as little league teams. Under RTW, we
should expect this role to decline.

Unions are certainly not flawless. They are
organizations that breathe a measure of democratic life
into an otherwise autocratic corporate culture. And as
democracies, unions can embrace the best and the worst
of human intentions. On balance though, labor unions
have an admirable history. In every capitalist economy,
the standards for economic, political and social equity
are owed in part to a vibrant, independent union
movement. Consider this final thought, fellow citizens,
as you contemplate whether Michigan is to become a RTW

— By Roland Zullo, Research Scientist

Institute for Labor and Industrial Relations
University of Michigan

Koch-heads Crush Unions in Michigan

Excerpt from COMMON DREAMS (see link) —

Michigan’s Republican-dominated legislature on Thursday passed conservative, anti-worker, anti-women measures–controversial right-to-work legislation and a conscience clause that allows health care providers to deny services–sparking outrage and protests from Democrats and union members and leading police to use “chemical munitions” on protesters.

The Michigan State Capitol.  Protesters packed the Capitol building, news agencies report, as right-wing Gov. Rick Snyder and Republicans announced the right-to-work legislation.  Some of the protesters who were inside the building attempted to get to the chamber floor and were met with a chemical assault. The Detroit Free Press reports:

“When several of the individuals rushed the troopers, they used chemical munitions to disperse the crowd,” [Michigan State Police Inspector Gene Adamczyk] said. “It would be a lot worse if someone gets hurt and I failed to act.”

The House passed the first of three right-to-work bills in a 58-52 vote.

Right-to-work laws mean dues cannot be required from non-union employees.  Touted as “workplace freedom” by supporters, unions see them as an assault on their bargaining power and an attempt at further weakening the power of organized labor.

The Lansing State Journal reports that the right-to-work legislation was passed “after House Democrats walked off the chamber floor to protest the Capitol not being opened to the public.”

Americans for Prosperity, which the Detroit Free Press describes as “the conservative non-profit organization that funded Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to strip that state’s public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights,” and was founded by the notorious Koch brothers, supported the legislation.