Organized labor seems to be covering all its anti-democratic bases as it attempts to impose union membership on unwilling employees. Action on the Employee Free Choice Act has been blocked this year (prevented by tough Senate opposition), so now Big Labor is essaying a different approach. Several major unions want the National Labor Relations Board to require employers to negotiate if even only a minority of employees ask. The New York Times reports:
The unions involved in the bid, including the United Steelworkers and the United Auto Workers, say the labor board should return to a largely forgotten practice, prevalent in the 1930s, in which companies often bargained with unions representing only a minority of workers who had joined them.
“This is what the text of the National Labor Relations Act requires, and there are no decisions to the contrary,” said Charles J. Morris, an emeritus professor of labor law at Southern Methodist University and the foremost champion of this notion.
This is what is known in the vernacular as a “novel legal theory,” but one that Morris was able to develop an entire book out of, “The Blue Eagle at Work.”
[Morris] uncovers a long-forgotten feature of that act that offers an exciting new approach to the revitalization of the American labor movement and the institution of collective bargaining. He convincingly demonstrates that in private-sector nonunion workplaces, the Act guarantees that employees have a viable right to engage in collective bargaining through a minority union on a members-only basis. As a result of this startling breakthrough, American labor relations may never again be the same. Morris’s underlying thesis is based on a meticulous analysis of statutory and decisional law and exhaustive historical research.
The Times reports that the unions do not expect the current NLRB to look favorably on the pitch — you think? — but is setting the stage for a more labor-friendly Democratic administration. Senate opponents to card check will likely have the numbers to filibuster card check no matter the outcome of the 2008 presidential election, but if labor adequately prepares the groundwork, well… Minority bargaining mandated by regulation? By executive order?
And organized labor claims to be democratic?
P.S. Boy are there a lot of holes in the Times’ story. It says seven unions asked the NLRB, but only names two. No links to the filing, a “petition,” apparently. The story mentions a letter to the board by 25 law professors arguing for the change, but doesn’t name a single one. (One assumes Morris is one of them, but it’s not clearly stated.) Sure looks like organized labor doled out this story in just the way it wanted.
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