The labor front group, American Rights at Work, has released a report that they funded with the Economic Policy Institute, continuing the strategy of painting all employers as villains intent on obstructing their employees’ efforts to form unions. The charges in the “No Holds Barred: The Intensification of Employer Opposition to Organizing” report by Cornell University professor Kate Bronfenbrenner are inflammatory, the data weak, and the conclusion predictable: Pass the Employee Free Choice Act.
Start with the quality of the sample. The author uses data that’s already six years old (collected from 1999-2003), information gathered from questioning paid union organizers.
That’s a perfectly non-biased sample for a supposedly serious academic study, isn’t it?
The study further claims that “workers filed Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges in about 40% of elections”. To be clear: Filing a charge just represents an allegation, not a finding of fault. The report itself shows that 55 percent of the charges either have no merit or are resolved in the settlement process.
The study also claims that “more workers would choose to be unionized if given the opportunity than at any time in the last 30 years” by indicating that efforts by employers have suppressed unionization rates to 12.4 percent, from 22 percent three decades ago. The study fails to address other possible explanations, such as the workforce doesn’t necessarily see the need to be unionized in order to have a productive workplace relationship with an employer. In fact, a recent survey by Rasmussen shows that only 9 percent of non-union workers would like to join a union today.
We do agree with one assertion of the study:
It would be preferable if scholars could interview workers in the aftermath of each organizing campaign and find out how the employer campaign had affected their vote.
Instead of looking at ways to enforce current law, labor leaders are using these types of faulty “studies” to argue for the Employee Free Choice Act as a legitimate attempt at labor law reform. But legislation that effectively removes secret ballots, and imposes contract terms written by government arbitrators is not a serious attempt to increase the principles of balance inherent in our labor law system. No proposal that stems from the EFCA can result in positive change for today’s economy.