Minority Bargaining: More on Labor’s Power Play

By September 4, 2007Labor Unions

Cindy Skrzycki, a Bloomberg columnist, writes on “minority bargaining” in today’s Washington Post, outlining the issue that’s slowly making its way into public discussion. This is the theory that Big Labor is pushing that says employers must deal with any group that forms as a bargaining unit, even if it represents a small minority of the employees. (For our previous posts on the subject, go here.) Labor is setting the stage for a future Administration and National Labor Relation’s Board majority that might be more friendly toward even its most outlandish claims.

“The feeling here was, legally, we are on solid ground,” said Michael Yoffee, organizing director for the steelworkers union. If the NLRB doesn’t act on the petition, he said, “our hope is that there will be a more pro-worker administration in place when it comes up in the hopper. And if this ends up in litigation, sooner may be better than later, since the courts don’t appear to be getting any more worker-friendly.”

The feeling here is that, legally, they’re not on solid ground, but the political ground is a different question.

The NLRB has dismisssed the “minority bargaining” arguments made when the steelworkers filed an unfair labor complaint against Dick’s Sporting Goods distribution center in Smithton, PA. As Associate General Counsel Barry Kearney wrote in a 17-page memo on June 22, 2006, “The Employer in these circumstances had no obligation to recognize and bargain with the Council. The principle is well-settled and not an open issue.” (Our underlining.) A copy of Kearney’s memo is available at the NLRB website here.

As private-sector union membership continues to plunge, organized labor becomes more and more desperate, abandoning any of its claims to workplace democracy. Employee Free Choice Act, eliminating the secret ballot so unwilling workers can be bullied into joining a union? Minority bargaining, to impose unionization at a business if only a few employees demand against the will of the majority? Sure — as long as we can collect the dues.

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