Cajoled, Coerced, Intimidated

By March 26, 2007Labor Unions

In a fact-filled column in today’s Legal Times, Jonathan L. Snare, acting solicitor at the U.S. Department of Labor, cites a wealth of sources to disprove organized labor’s claims that “card check” improves the freedom of employees to make a free choice about the unionization of their workplace.

Card check as envisioned by the current bill was actually tried prior to 1947. Because of widespread coercion of workers, the National Labor Relations Act was amended in 1947 to eliminate the general use of card check.

The House report on the 1947 amendments to the NLRA states: “For the last 14 years, as a result of labor laws ill-conceived and disastrously executed, the American workingman has been deprived of his dignity as an individual. He has been cajoled, coerced, intimidated, and on many occasions beaten up. . . . He has been forced to join labor organizations against his will. At other times when he desired to join a particular labor organization he has been prevented from doing so and forced to join another one.”

And ….

Here’s how the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit summarized the problem of card checks in NLRB v. S.S. Logan Packing Co. (1967): “It would be difficult to imagine a more unreliable method of ascertaining the real wishes of employees than a ‘card check,’ unless it were an employer’s request for an open show of hands. The one is no more reliable than the other. No thoughtful person has attributed reliability to such card checks. This, the [NLRB] has fully recognized. So has the AFL-CIO. . . . Overwhelming majorities of cards may indicate the probable outcome of an election, but it is no more than an indication, and close card majorities prove nothing.”

Thanks to BLT, the Blog of the Legal Times, for directing us to Snare’s column.