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Sat Nov 19, 2016, 03:08 PM


Unions May Be Among the First Casualties of the Republican Sweep

I spent the week Las Vegas with over 1,500 union leaders from all over the country as we assessed the outcome of the election. The meeting was set well in advance and we were there to discuss our strategy in a new administration. To our chagrin, what could have been a strategy for moving the working class into a stronger position in the work place, turned into a strategy for survival.

Most of the members we represent have no idea how important it is that Democrats stock the positions that deal with our issues. I am a Business Agent and Organizer. It really doesn't matter from the point of view of a union which Republican wins or which Democrat, the appointments to those boards, commissions and judgeships, do. What the rules are and how they are set by Congress does matter. Whether or not they can pass both the House and Senate, and be signed into law by the President does matter.

Let's take just a couple of rule changes that are already in the "hopper". Paul Ryan's "better way forward" or some other such bull shit slogan like that. Currently, if employees at a work site reach out to the union (or they respond to our overtures), they need to sign union cards for their intent to be represented by my union in order to move forward. 30% is the minimum that have to be signed. We usually don't enter an election without more than a majority of employees signing (50% to 60%). We submit the cards to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB consists of 5 members. 2 Democrats, 2 Republicans and the fifth chosen by the President. of course, they are all chosen by the President. The President also chooses the General Council. The current General Council used to by the attorney for the Operating Engineers, so he is very union friendly. His term expires in November, 2018. The NLRB will then set an election date, usually within 28 days of the filing. If we win the election, the place is unionized and we are set to bargain a first contract. Currently, the rule is that a majority of the votes wins the election. The union loses ties. If there is a unit of 100 employees and 55 sign cards, and election is called. If the election ends up 42 yes and 29 no, the union wins. The Republicans have legislation that states that a majority of employees must vote yes, not a majority of voters. By way of example, if the same 100 employees voted the same way (42 to 29 yes), the union loses. We need 51 votes, regardless of the turnout. Employers could intimidate workers into just staying home. The secret ballot would be useless, because employees who opposed us would tell their fellow employees that the company would rather have them not vote at all, this way they are sure where you stand. Employees could tell the union friendly employees any excuse to stay home if they got cold feet.

Let's take the Friedrich's case for instance, which will surely be found against the public sector unions and make America a right to work country once Trump appoints the ninth vote on the Supreme Court. "Right to Work" makes dues voluntary, but union service to the employee mandatory. When you hear "right to work", remember that the Democratic Republic of North Korea is far from Democratic. The name is not descriptive. This law requires unions, as the only private entity in American history, to perform a service for free or face governmental fines and punishment. This law was designed to eradicate unions and has successfully done so, over time (see North Carolina).

These are just a couple of examples. The Davis Bacon act, which requires prevailing wages on federal projects, will probably be exempted in any construction bill that is passed by a Republican controlled Congress. Project Labor Agreements (PLA's) which sets construction standards for wages and benefits for the public good, will be eliminated when ever possible.

These major changes, which will depress wages and benefits for the middle class, would be put into affect whether the Republican President was Trump, Bush, Kasich, Romney, Pense, Cruz or anyone else for that side. None of these changes and, in fact, positive changes, would have be enacted if the Democratic President was Hillary, Bernie, Biden or anyone else.

We expect a tough 4 years. We need to stand and fight and hope that some of the most onerous laws and rule changes can be filibustered in the Senate.

What should have been 4 years of more forward movement for Organized Labor and the middle class is now trench warfae in a fight for survival.

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Arrow 6 replies Author Time Post
Reply Unions May Be Among the First Casualties of the Republican Sweep (Original post)
louis c Nov 2016 OP
Wellstone ruled Nov 2016 #1
Thinkingabout Nov 2016 #2
yallerdawg Nov 2016 #3
Kennah Nov 2016 #4
louis c Nov 2016 #5
Mc Mike Nov 2016 #6

Response to louis c (Original post)

Sat Nov 19, 2016, 03:32 PM

1. The first Unions to take the hit will be


every Governmental Employee Union. First will be TSA,and then the Department of Agriculture. Watch and see.

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Sat Nov 19, 2016, 03:33 PM

2. Exactly, we could be having four years of advancement and now we will have four years of

backward stepping.

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Sat Nov 19, 2016, 03:35 PM

3. Eight years ago...

we had a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress.

"Card check" was finally going to be a reality!

I don't know what we do to help Organized Labor anymore...than tread water?

You are right - Davis Bacon on Federally funded projects, the notion of prevailing wages, Obama's $10.10 minimum wage - gone, and I bet we won't even hear a whimper.

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Response to louis c (Original post)

Sat Nov 19, 2016, 04:02 PM

4. Once Trump gets his new Scalia, we're in for it with the next Friedrichs case

I know more than a few Union Members who voted for Trump, and some are quite proud of themselves. I don't get it, and I expect them to cry the loudest when the effects begin to hit.

"Why are I getting a pay cut? You guys with the Union should do something."
"Why am I paying more for healthcare? Now I can't afford to get sick."
"They laid off a bunch of people, and now my workload is doubled. I need help."

It becomes quite challenging as a Shop Steward when someone needs my help. I try to stay focused, but I do sometimes intentionally pass people off to other Stewards. Guilty doesn't afflict me. I'm one of about 30 Stewards at our office, and I have filed 5 of the 16 Grievances filed this year at our Agency. If I hadn't been so active in working with Management to resolve things, I probably could have filed 20 or more Grievances. Between the Chief Steward and I, we do about 80% of the Steward work.

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Response to Kennah (Reply #4)

Sat Nov 19, 2016, 07:39 PM

5. I know exactly how you feel


I oversee 35 maintenance contracts, both in negotiations and in service. I am also the organizer.

Many of our members voted Trump.

I used to think "I don't get it".

In fact, they don't get it. What they do is vote in such a way as to take away our tools and then criticize us for not being able to fix it.

Let me give you an example. A year ago we had a Governor's race here in Massachusetts, Republican Baker against Democrat Martha Coakly. A lot of our members went with Baker. As I tried to get our members to support and work in the Coakly effort from the workers we represent at the MBTA (transit authority in Boston), I got tremendous resistance. "I can't stand her". "You guys always tell us to vote for Democrats, but they suck just as much." stuff like that.

Baker wins narrowly. The first thing he does is privatize the MBTA. sure, not all of it, but he started with, you guessed it, the guys we represent. Now, they are all facing lay-offs. The very people I asked to stop Baker voted for him, and the're the first guys out. Now I get "what are you going to do about it?"

We will fight for them, but they're the ones who disarmed us.

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Response to louis c (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 20, 2016, 07:49 AM

6. They don't just shoot themselves in the foot with their stupid votes,

they shoot all of us in the foot at the same time. Then whine that their feet hurt.

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