UNIONS READY FOR A BIG TAKEOFF

From the desk of Stephen Cabot:

While the political and ideological composition of Congress was dramatically altered by the election on Tuesday, the composition of the National Mediation Board remains the same. It is decidedly pro-union and dominated by President Obama’s ideological allies

The Board had recently made it easier for unions to organize air carriers by altering a rule of the Railway Labor Act so that fewer workers need to vote in favor of union representation than had been previously required.

And while Delta Airlines employees wisely rejected union representation after doing a side-by-side comparison of union and non-union benefits. (Unionized employees would have received lower salaries than non-unionized employees!). Unions, however, have not been discouraged by the employees’ rejection of unionization at Delta. In fact, organizing drives at numerous small regional carriers have begun, and the momentum of those efforts is rapidly increasing, fueled by the NMB’s decision to encourage such actions. A portentous example is one that has occurred at small Allegiant Airlines, where a majority of nonunion flight attendants have petitioned the National Mediation Board for an election to choose representation by the Transport Workers Union of America (TWUA). That is just one of many organizing drives that have begun and will continue over the next two years. While Corporate America has won a major battle by electing many Republicans to Congress, it still has a war to win, if it’s going to change the pro-union agenda that currently exists in the Obama Administration. The election of 2012 could be the one that gives Corporate America a conclusive victory.

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THE COMING UNION ASSAULT

From the desk of Stephen Cabot: Without having to get congressional approval, President Obama is determined to give union leaders everything they want. It is apparent that unions will soon have many new opportunities to organize formerly unaffiliated workers, and governmental agencies will provide all possible assistance.

To begin, the National Mediation Board (NMB) has made a major alteration to its 75-year old rules so that workers at railroads and airlines can easily be organized. For three-quarters of a century, workers who did not vote in organizing elections had their non-votes counted as negative votes; now, under a new ruling, if the majority of votes are pro-union, the union will have won the right to represent workers. This would not have happened if President Obama had not appointed a pro-union advocate to the NMB

Next, all companies that do business with the federal government will have to be union friendly companies. That means that they have to pay union wages, and that rule applies to all federal agencies. If a company received stimulus funds for construction projects, that company must pay standard union wages to its workers. Such a ruling will, no doubt, drive up governmental costs, thus adding to an already burgeoning deficit.

Perhaps the most dangerous element of the new government paradigm is the recent appointment of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. Mr. Becker had been the legal counsel to the highly aggressive Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Since he claims that the NLRB can re-write rules, one can expect him to find a way to make “card checks” legal, thus obviating the requirement for secret ballot elections.

The president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, is optimistic that “card checks” will eventually become law, perhaps by attaching it to an innocuous piece of legislation, or having his ideological comrade in arms, Craig Becker, change the rules.

President Obama campaigned on “change we can believe in.” The changes he is making are ones that reality forces us to believe, but they are changes that will do significant damage to Corporate America and to the American economy.

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