When "The Sopranos" Force an Employee To Sign a Union Card...
May 05, 2008
Just to be clear before I start this post, this isn't a political site. It's a "HR/Human Capital meets the business world" type of site. Remember that as the post starts below.
There's this little thing on the horizon called the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). Most pundits (Republican and Democrat alike) agree that if the Democrats take the White House, the act will pass both the House and the Senate - because it won't face a presidential veto.
If that happens, your life as a HR pro changes. Once the EFCA is law, employees would no longer have the right to a confidential vote on whether they want to be represented by a union or not. If you know how organizing works, you know that today employees express their interest in having a vote by signing what's known as an authorization card. Once the union gets the necessary number of cards (30% of employees, but most unions shoot for 50% because that's what they need to win the resulting election), an election is called and employees then get the luxury of both unions and employers campaigning for their vote. Then they vote via a confidential ballot, much like your presidential vote.
Even if an employee signs the card, they can vote the other way in the union election. Many change their vote in the election because that's how they really feel. Many sign the card because they don't want to be hassled/harassed/intimidated in the workplace.
If the EFCA passes, there's no vote. Once the necessary number of cards are signed, the union's in. No confidential election (like the one you get to elect the president), just a bunch of people coming up to you and asking you to sign a card.
And that's wrong. That's not America.
Here's the problem with that. If the EFCA passes, Unions get authorized based on peer pressure. Imagine a group of employees coming up to your work station/cube/desk/whatever and putting a card down and saying "you're with us, right?".. If you refuse, maybe the group starts to smear you in the workplace, maybe they start calling you at all hours of the night, etc. Any type of pressure to get you to sign the card. Your vote is public, and you're subject to harassment, not unlike the video below.
Hat tip to Seth Borden of the Union-Free Employer for the video...Regardless of your political views, educate yourself on this bill and make your feelings known as a HR Pro to your representative/senator, etc...
Good post. I think this effort is indicative of the breakdown between Corporate America and the labor force. Rising health care costs, more competition from China, etc., have changed the fundamental ways in which the employer interacts & manages the employee base. Without thoughtful management, employees & politicians will gravitate to short-term solutions, such as the no-vote efforts, in an effort to counteract some of the extreme changes in the workforce.
Posted by: laurie ruettimann | May 05, 2008 at 10:53 AM
Good luck America...
Posted by: Frank | May 05, 2008 at 08:31 PM
Unions have been effective in stopping employer intimidation. Without them, employees would not have many of the benefits that they are currently being taken away from them by companies without unions.
Posted by: Bill Powell | January 08, 2010 at 01:21 PM