Sure, the Unions Never Win — If by Never, You Mean 60 Percent

By January 16, 2009General

President-elect Obama’s interview with the Washington Post in which he expressed nuancedopposition/support/we’ll wait and see/look over there! about the Employee Free Choice Act produced a flood of commentary, including this from The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait:

The point of card check is that union elections have become a joke. Employers hold captive propaganda meetings, and routinely violate labor law by intimidating workers and firing organizers with no serious enforcement. That’s why unions want card check, an expedited way to let workers form a union without facing massive pressure from their bosses. But if there was some other way to let employees decide whether or not to form a union without massive employer pressure, unions would probably settle for that, too. Indeed, some kind of compromise tostop employer intimidation is what I expect to happen in the end. It’s far from all or nothing.

Chait is moving in the world of union propaganda. Once again, we’ll link to actual numbers about organizing elections. A recent  BNA review of union elections as collected by the National Labor Relations Board showed:

The union win rate decreased slightly to 60.1 percent in 2007, down from 61.4 percent the year before. Unions have won more than half of all representation elections in each of the past 11 years. The NLRB conducted 1,502 elections in 2007, compared with 1,657 in 2006. In 1996, about 3,300 elections were conducted by the agency. The number of elections won by unions also decreased to 902 in 2007 from 1,018 in 2006. The number of eligible voters decreased to 101,991 in 2007 from 112,336 in 2006. In 2007, unions organized 57,908 workers through the NLRB elections, down from 59,759 the previous year.

A joke? In politics, there’s a term for candidates who win more than 60 percent of their elections — “incumbents.” Unions want more than a 60 percent victory rate, they want to win everytime they try to organize. The only way you can accomplish that is by eliminating secret-ballot elections.

Advocates for the Employee Free Choice Act just keep ignoring the issue: Unions win more than they lose.

Earlier posts:

Join the discussion One Comment

  • JJ says:

    I know the unions helped Obama get elected, but hopefully his comments are a sign that he is thinking about this issue a bit more carefully. I really hope that members of Congress start to re-examine this issue as well.

    I have no problems with unions, as long as employees choose when they want to form one and when they don’t. To that end, I support secret ballot elections and dislike the provision in Card Check which would remove that right from workers. Without secret ballot elections, I think there will be lots of intimidation to vote certain ways, just like political elections in the early 1900s.

    Also, I’m against the provision that forces arbitration if a contract isn’t agreed to within 120 days. Since businesses can afford to wait that period out fairly easily, the workers would typically lose in any arbitration.

    I know there are lots of organizations working to help Congress understand these issues better – and to let them know that they should be working for the American workers instead of the labor unions. For instance, the Friends of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has some more information here –

    I encourage people to get involved and find out more information about this issue and contact their Congressional representative to make sure they understand your views.

Leave a Reply