Card Check: The Neutral Zone? It’s Always Dangerous

By April 9, 2007Labor Unions

We offer a Monday morning roundup on recent happenings concerning the scandoulously misnamed Employee Free Choice Act, which, if ever enacted, would invite widespread intimidation of workers by union organizers not satisfied with the results of a fair, confidential and federally supervised election.

Intimidation? Isn’t that just a red herring pushed by employers?

The effort to unionize hotels near Los Angeles International Airport drew criticism Thursday from some employees who work there, even as union supporters announced plans to hold a demonstration today.

Several workers at the LAX Hilton challenged some of the claims made by UNITE Here in its organizing efforts at the hotel and said workers who do not want to join the union are being harassed.

“As employees of the LAX Hilton, we are tired of being bullied by UNITE Here,” the workers said in a prepared statement. “In these last two years we have been the target of a campaign not for the betterment of employees or wages or benefits, but simply to increase the union’s membership.”

That’s reported in the Los Angeles Daily News and cited by, the blog of the Center for Union Facts. The center has done an admirable and much-needed job recording the excesses of UNITE HERE!, the labor group.

First, “neutrality agreements” and then passage of the Employee Free Choice Act are a central strategy of UNITE HERE! in its hotel organizing efforts, according to a new study by The Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University. The study (pdf file here) provides thorough background on neutrality, noting the powerful tools the agreements give labor to organize, and we would say, to coerce workers:

Neutrality agreements commonly provide the union with access to employees in the form of a list of their names and addresses (and, sometimes, telephone numbers), as well as permission to come onto company property during work hours for the purpose of collecting signed authorization cards. This provision diverges from the guidelines set up by the NLRB and the courts, under which an employer has no obligation to provide the union with such sweeping access to its employees, and may actually be prohibited from doing so.

Also keeping track of the card-check legislation is the HR Capitalist, who examines all sorts of human capital issues from pro-business point of view. Good stuff, even for non-baseball fans.

At EFCA Updates, Richard Hankins considers the Vermont Legislature’s move to institute card check for state employees, the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent of killing private-ballot elections in the workplace.

Finally, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist, appeared on last weekend’s “America’s Business,” the NAM’s weekly radio program, to talk about the card-check legislation. You can listen to his interview via an MP3 file here. Key passage:

[The unions] don’t want to have these elections that they keep losing, so card check says, somebody can come up to you, you know, at your doorstep, outside your house, at a bar, out in the parking lot, and say, please sign this little card. And if they get a majority of employees someplace …You can threaten them, you can bribe them, you can get them to drink too much — all of things that have happened in the past — and a 51 percent vote, then the union is in, and people have no right even to vote them out until the first five year contract has worked its way through.

Consider that. There’s no “neutrality” once the union has forced employees into becoming dues-paying members. No choice. Heck, we bet no more drinks, either.