Washington, D.C. – The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), composed of more than 400 major business and trade organizations, released the following statement today after submitting an amicus brief to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in American Steel Construction, Inc. (Case 07–RC–269162). The group called on the NLRB to reaffirm the traditional standard used to determine the appropriateness of a petitioned-for bargaining unit in a union representation election. The traditional standard, applied in PCC Structurals (2017) and Boeing (2019), protects against disenfranchisement of workers’ right to vote on union representation in the workplace.
The following statement is attributable to CDW Chair Kristen Swearingen:
“The NLRB is considering whether or not to reinstate an Obama-era standard that allowed unions to create ‘micro-unions’ to effectively gerrymander representation elections in favor of unions.
“As clearly demonstrated in our amicus brief, the NLRB should reaffirm its standards for determining appropriate petitioned-for collective bargaining units as established in the NLRB cases of PCC Structurals and Boeing, which would prevent union organizers from disenfranchising workers who do not want union representation.
“Micro-unions would hurt job creation and economic growth. They greatly limit an employer’s ability to cross train employees and meet ever-changing customer and client demands via flexible staffing as employees would not be able perform work assigned to another unit. Employees in micro-unions also suffer from reduced job opportunities, such as workforce development, promotions and transfers.
“The NLRB should support the rights of all workers, not just pro-union ones, and maintain a level playing field in union elections by reaffirming the traditional standard for determining appropriate petitioned-for collective bargaining units instead of stacking the deck in favor of unions during union elections and limiting job creation and advancement.”
About The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace
CDW is a broad-based coalition of hundreds of organizations representing hundreds of thousands of employers and millions of employees in various industries across the country concerned with a long-standing effort by some in the labor movement to make radical changes to the National Labor Relations Act without regard to the severely negative impact they would have on employees, employers, and the economy. CDW was originally formed in 2005 in opposition to the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) – a bill similar to the PRO Act – that would have stripped employees of the right to secret ballots in union representation elections and allowed arbitrators to set contract terms regardless of the consequence to workers or businesses.
Today, the Washington Examiner published an op-ed from Coalition for a Democratic Workplace chair Kristen Swearingen York titled “Stealing workers’ secret ballots: A ‘card-check’ sequel that’s worse than the original,” which reads:
Summer is the season for bad sequels. This time, it’s a handful of U.S. lawmakers — led by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., kowtowing to union bosses ahead of the 2020 election by trying to revive the old, audience-panned “card check” bill from last decade, with a host of new villainous additions.
Those unfortunate enough to recall the original 2005 release of the deceptively named “Employee Free Choice Act” can’t forget its main antagonist — “card check” — a provision that would strip workers’ right to vote privately on whether to unionize their workplace. Opinion polls consistently showed that employees, including those in union households, routinely rejected this affront to workplace democracy. EFCA went beyond killing voting rights, however, with a provision that would have given unelected, unqualified, and unaccountable third parties plenary power over private contracts via “binding interest arbitration.”
It didn’t work, fortunately. Despite aggressive union lobbying and Democratic control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, EFCA was unpopular and had to be abandoned.
Fast forward to the present and Sanders, Warren, and likely 2020 presidential candidates Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., have introduced the cynically mislabeled “Workplace Democracy Act.” This is just more than just a devious effort to revive card check and binding interest arbitration. It also includes provisions to strike right-to-work legal protections for employees in 28 states, curb opportunities for people to work independently through gig economy platforms or contractor roles, and codify the National Labor Relations Board’s controversial joint employment standard that continues to threaten our nation’s small and local businesses.
If these points aren’t concerning enough, the bill would also interfere with attorney-client confidentiality and make it harder for businesses, and particularly small businesses, to secure legal advice on complex labor law matters.
Finally, it would strip away “secondary boycott” protections, which prevent unions using their exemptions from antitrust laws and immunity from some state laws from targeting business for anti-competitive reasons and purposes other than organizing.
While this all may just seem like a “Fantasia” for union lobbyists, the threat is real. Organized labor almost convinced Congress to pass EFCA in 2010. And if we learned anything from the eight years of anti-business decisions by the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board, bad labor policy does nothing to promote robust job growth nor to increase wages.
It is conventional wisdom that a Democratic presidential candidate cannot emerge as the party’s nominee without extensive support from labor unions. And union officials have made signing onto the Workplace Democracy Act the ante to be considered for labor’s war chest that still holds hundreds of millions of dollars.
Nonetheless, supporters have remained fairly quiet about the bill. It’s not surprising, considering the reception the public gave it last time around.
The media outreach is part of a six-figure, ongoing campaign by CDW to warn of this “Workplace Democracy Attack.”
Since the election of President Trump, it has been a question of “when,” not “if,” the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board” or the “NLRB”) would revisit many of the noteworthy decisions issued by the Board during the Obama administration. With Chairman Philip A. Miscimarra’s term expiring on December 16, 2017, the Board issued a number of such decisions in mid-December.