From the desk of Stephen Cabot: In an effort to further aid organized labor, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is considering permitting unions to organize small numbers of workers in any company. Unions may choose to organize as few as five to ten employees, while not bothering with dozens or even hundreds of others. Obviously, it will be far easier for unions to organize five to ten workers rather than an entire workforce. The result will be the formation of “micro unions.” The creation of “micro unions” would permit unions to focus on workers who have specific job descriptions, ones that may be easier to organize than other types of workers. If a union wanted to organize workers at department stores, for example, it could choose to organize stock workers, shipping clerks, and sales clerks without attempting to organize more senior level employees. Similarly, in hotels, unions could attempt to organize maids, busboys, waiters, and bell hops, while not bothering with desk clerks and various levels of managers. Such efforts, if successful, would not only give unions a foothold into various businesses, but it would give them negotiating leverage, for a “micro union” could call for a strike, thus making it impossible for the non-union employees to operate a company. Like an army winning one small battle after another, such a step-by-step approach would provide unions with an eventual opportunity to win the battle against management and take over the entire workforce. It is essential that management learn the appropriate survival strategies so that it can defeat incremental efforts at unionization. It will be one of the vital topics at my upcoming labor relations seminars.

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From the desk of Stephen Cabot: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has threatened to sue four states for ensuring that workers can enjoy a basic democratic right to cast secret ballots when it come s to the possibility of unionization. The four states, South Dakota, South Carolina, Arizona, and Utah, have mandated the use of secret ballots in union elections.

The NLRB has made the Alice-in-Wonderland assertion that secret ballots violate federal law. Though Congress has refused to pass the Employee Free Choice Act that would have permitted unions to coerce workers into signing “card checks” to ensure union representation, the NLRB has repeatedly looked for opportunities to present unions with opportunities to impose the use of “card checks” on workers, who may not want to join a union.

Indeed, the most effective tactic that workers have against forced unionization is the secret ballot. No union organizer gets to coerce, embarrass, or intimidate a worker to join a union when the workers’ preferences are made oblique by casting secret, anonymous ballots.

We back the efforts of Minnesota Republican Representative John Kline to amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) with the passage of the Secret Ballot Protection Act. While the Republican dominated House of Representatives very well may pass the amendment, the Democrats in the Senate will not pass it. Corporate America, therefore, will have to wait until the election of 2012 to be delivered from the high-handed, pro-union actions of the NLRB. Meanwhile, it is essential that corporations put in place survival strategies that prevent labor relations problems before they arise.

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From the desk of Stephen Cabot: Recently, the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) decided to permit airport security screeners to vote for union representation. And not only can they vote for such representation, but they have a choice of voting for one of two powerful unions, each of which is waging expensive campaigns to win the right to represent the screeners. The two unions are the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU). In its high priced battle to win the right to represent the security personnel, AFGE has placed a 25-foot advertisement at Boston's Logan International Airport, which features an endorsement from AFL-CIO. AFGE is a member of the AFL-CIO, while NTEU is an independent union and so does not merit AFL-CIO support. There are currently 50,000 transportation security personnel who will be permitted to vote. That will represent the largest single election by federal workers. And all of this comes at a time when the vast number of Americans and their congressional representatives want to control the ever-increasing compensation of federal employees which averages twice the salaries paid to equivalent private sector employees. Regardless of which union wins, the American people will lose, for unionized security personnel will have significant leverage over the economy. If, for example, its members decide to stage a walkout during contract negotiations, they could close down every airport in the United States. The economy would be put on hold, and our current recession would only worsen. One need only recall the effort by the air traffic controls to close down the country’s airports in the 1980s. President Reagan fired the strikers and avoided an economic meltdown. One can hardly expect such decisive action from President Obama who has appointed pro-union advocates to the NLRB.

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