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CDW Sends Letter to House Committee Cautioning against PRO Act, NLRB Overreach

Washington, DC – On September 12, CDW sent a letter to the House Education and Labor Committee expressing serious concerns with the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and recent activity and policies pursued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and its General Counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo.

The following statement can be attributed to CDW Chair Kristen Swearingen:

“Economic analyses have proven that the PRO Act would have devastating consequences for the economy. It would cause economic upheaval at a time when our economy is still struggling with recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Inflation is rising, fears of a recession are top of mind, supply chains continue to lag behind demand, and workforce shortages are limiting economic growth. Particularly concerning at this moment in time is the PRO Act’s provision removing the 70-year ban on secondary strikes. As seen by the recently threatened rail strike, this provision alone could shut down the country’s supply chain. Surveys have also shown that the PRO Act is not supported by the public. Congress should abandon the PRO Act and work towards helping the economy get back on track.

“At the same time as Congress pursues this misguided legislation, the NLRB and General Counsel Abruzzo are attempting to rewrite labor law to force unions on workers whether they want one or not. They are trying to eliminate secret ballots in union representation elections and wipe out employers’ First Amendment rights during union organizing campaigns. They are putting employers in an impossible position by forcing them to tolerate discriminatory behavior in the workplace despite the clear violation of federal anti-discrimination laws that such tolerance would require. The Board is pursuing a new joint-employer standard that would destroy small and local businesses. This NLRB and General Counsel Abruzzo are pursuing radical policies without any consideration for the damaging effects they will cause for the regulated community.

“And now, there are allegations that NLRB staff are colluding with labor unions in representation elections and unfair labor practices cases against specific employers. This is simply beyond the pale. The NLRB is supposed to be a neutral arbiter of the law, and instead, staffers are tilting the balance in favor of their preferred side.

“Congress should demand the NLRB and General Counsel Abruzzo stop rewriting labor law to impose their own beliefs on the nation’s economy. The economy simply cannot right itself while simultaneously struggling to keep up with the never-ending radicalization of labor policy.”

CDW Sends Letter to House Opposing Radical Labor Provisions in NDAA

On July 11, CDW sent a letter to all members of the House of Representatives urging them to oppose an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2022 that “would eliminate workers’ right to secret ballots in union representation elections, infringing on their right to privacy and their right to vote their conscience on whether or not they want to be represented by a union.”

As we explain in our letter, Amendment 237 would require employers who contract or subcontract with the Department of Defense to recognize a labor organization as the representative of their contracting workforce if the union presents signed authorization cards from a majority of the workers eligible to participate in the petitioned-for bargaining unit. Passing this amendment would replace secret ballot elections with card check, a fundamentally flawed system that needlessly exposes workers to coercion, harassment, and intimidation and has been criticized by the Supreme Court, federal courts of appeals, the NLRB, and even several unions.

The letter states, “Card check is an unreliable method for determining workers’ wishes on union representation, and it exposes them to potential coercion, intimidation, and harassment by individuals attempting to influence their vote. The secret ballot, NLRB-supervised election process provides necessary safeguards to protect workers and their right to freely vote their conscience.”

CDW urges the House to oppose this amendment as well as two other amendments that would implement labor restrictions and do not belong in this bill – Amendment 403 and 809.

CDW Issues Report on the Dangers of Online Voting in Union Representation Elections

Washington, DC – On July 12, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, composed of more than 400 major business and trade organizations, released a new report, Online Voting in Union Representation Elections: The Latest Attempt to Eliminate Workers’ Right to Secret Ballots, which highlights the dangers of implementing online voting in union representation elections and calls on Congress to reject a provision in the House appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2023, that requires that the NLRB to implement a system to conduct union representation elections electronically.

The following statement can be attributed to CDW Chair Kristen Swearingen:

“The provision included in the Labor HHS appropriations bill is the latest attempt in a two-decade-long effort by unions and their allies in government to eliminate secret ballots in union representation elections. Secret ballots are a fundamental right in any democracy and provide voters with the ability to vote their conscience without influence from others, but if unions get their way and this provision is passed into law, workers will be forced to vote for or against union representation with union organizers and coworkers standing over their shoulders, pressuring them to support the union. Eliminating secret ballots would be a gross violation of workers’ privacy.

“Electronic voting is a system ripe for coercion, intimidation, and harassment. It violates workers’ privacy and makes it impossible for the NLRB to safeguard the election. Moreover, as the report notes, the National Mediation Board, several states, and various foreign countries have all shelved online voting programs because of costs and cybersecurity concerns. For these reasons, the Supreme Court, other federal courts, and the NLRB itself have all recognized that secret ballots are the best method for determining the will of the workers.

“CDW’s new report highlights the dangers of implementing electronic voting and how unsuitable electronic voting would be for union representation elections. Our report proves secret ballot elections are the best method for protecting workers’ freedom to join or refrain from joining a union.”

NLRB General Counsel Wants to Throw out Decades of Labor Law Precedent to Tip Scales in Favor of Unions

Washington, DC – The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), composed of more than 500 major business and trade organizations, released the following statement today in response to the NLRB’s Council of the General Counsel’s brief in Cemex Construction Materials Pacific LLC, in which the CGC calls on the Board to overturn five significant cases and standards in order to tip the scales in favor of unions.  Most troubling of the changes proposed by the CGC is replacing secret ballots as the preferred method for determining whether employees want union representation with “authorization cards,” which are not private and are signed in front of coworkers and union organizers.

The following statement can be attributed to CDW Chair Kristen Swearingen:

“General Counsel Abruzzo is pushing unionization at the expense of employees, who would be forced to cast  “votes” in union representation elections by signing cards in front of union organizers rather than in an NLRB-supervised, secret ballot election. Card check is notoriously vulnerable to fraud and coercion by union organizers who try to force workers to sign the cards with threats and misleading statements about what the cards actually mean. Allowing this back door organizing will only disenfranchise workers of their right to vote on union representation and expose workers to intimidation and harassment.

“Abruzzo is advocating for changes that will ensure unions have a monopoly over the information provided to employees before deciding whether or not they want union representation. This is despite Supreme Court and NLRB precedent protecting free speech rights and the importance of debate. Her efforts should concern anyone interested in protecting privacy, free speech, and due process rights.

“The General Counsel and the NLRB are supposed to be neutral arbiters of the law, but Abruzzo again is demonstrating her complete inability to fulfill that responsibility. The Board should reject her blatantly partisan efforts to tip the scales in favor of unions.”

Business Leaders Blast Labor Provisions in America COMPETES Act Passed Today in the House

Business leaders say union lobbyists snuck provisions stripping away workers’ right to secret ballots in union elections into House version of America COMPETES Act

Washington, D.C. – The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), composed of nearly 500 major business organizations, released the following statement today in response to a last-minute amendment snuck into the House version of the America COMPETES Act. The amendment includes two labor provisions that threaten workers and businesses.

The first is a provision that would require employers receiving certain funds authorized by the bill to bargain with a union based on signed authorization cards. The process—known as “card check”—involves workers “voting” by signing or refusing to sign union authorization cards in front of union organizers and co-workers. This card check process would replace secret ballot elections overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. This change unnecessarily invites intimidation and fraud to employees’ decisions to join or refrain from joining a union.

The bill also includes a provision that requires employers receiving certain funds to agree to be bound by collective bargaining terms set by an arbitrator if the union and the employer cannot come to agreement on their own. Under the provision, arbitrators, who likely lack business experience, would determine what a business can or cannot afford.

The following statement is attributable to CDW Chair Kristen Swearingen:

“’Card check’ is anti-worker and anti-American. Congress has no legitimate justification for forcing workers to sign union authorization cards in the presence of their coworkers and union organizers, opening them up to harassment and intimidation from union organizers and eliminating the right to privacy normally provided by secret ballot elections.

“Having an arbitrator set terms of collective bargaining agreements between a union and private sector employer will lead to job loss, bankruptcy, and government bailouts. It also incentivizes unions to propose outrageous terms in hopes the arbitrator will have their back.

“The U.S. Senate should reject these radical anti-worker, privacy-evading and anti-business provisions to protect both workers and employers, especially small business owners, from harassment and intimidation from unions and their cohorts on the NLRB.”

 

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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.

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CDW Urges Congress to Reject Anti-Worker Policies Snuck into America COMPETES Act

On February 3, CDW sent a letter to the full House of Representatives calling on them to oppose the America COMPETES Act (H.R. 4521) “due to the last-minute addition of provisions within the Manager’s Amendment that strips employees of their right to a secret ballot in union representation elections and their right to vote on their collective bargaining agreement.”

The Manager’s Amendment included two provisions that infringe on the rights of workers in union organizing drives. One provision strips workers of their right to a secret ballot election in representation elections, needlessly exposing those workers to intimidation, coercion, and harassment. The other provision would force mandatory arbitration on the workforce, depriving workers of the opportunity to vote on their collective bargaining agreements. This is an invitation for bankruptcies, job loss, and government bailouts and could destabilize labor relations by encouraging parties to bargain in bad faith.

As our letter explains, “These provisions do not increase our competitiveness with China, as the America COMPETES Act is intended to do, but will instead undermine it. These provisions will destabilize our economy and disenfranchise workers of their right to vote their conscience.”

CDW Statement on Republican Opposition to Electronic Union Election Voting

Washington, D.C. – On June 30, Republican leaders on the House Education and Labor Committee, Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Tim Walberg (R-MI), sent a letter to the Chairman and General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board opposing efforts by Democrats to force the Board to hold union elections electronically.

CDW applauds Reps. Foxx and Walberg for their efforts to stop Democrats’ assault on workers’ free choice and right to privacy. As the letter clarifies, “Electronic voting would create one more opportunity for union organizers to intimidate and coerce workers at their homes, in public, and elsewhere, and provide another conduit for workers’ personal information to be compromised.”

In-person voting remains the fairest, safest, and most effective means on holding union representation elections. CDW strongly encourages the NLRB to heed the representatives’ warning and continue to protect workers’ rights.

PRO Act’s stealth ‘card check’ option gives unions unfair advantage

Here they go again, attempting to take away the secret ballot in union elections.

In 2009, Democrats tried to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have taken away workers’ rights to use the secret ballot in unionization elections. Even though they controlled the House and Senate, and Barack Obama was in the White House, their attempt failed.

CDW op-ed warns of a ‘card-check’ sequel that’s worse than the original

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.”

National Coalition Warns Of Sanders and Warren’s “Workplace Democracy Attack”

FOR RELEASE: June 20, 2018

National Coalition Warns Of Sanders and Warren’s “Workplace Democracy Attack”
Coalition for a Democratic Workplace Calls Out Card Check Sequel

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) launched a multi-prong educational campaign to push back against the so-called “Workplace Democracy Act”—an unwise, unfair, anti-democratic bill that revives the failed “card check” scheme to eliminate secret ballot elections.

The initial six figure launch includes a new website and a full-page ad in USA Today warning of the “Cracked Vision for 2020” co-sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), all of whom would need union support if they seek the 2020 Democratic nomination. The ad warns that the card check sequel “is worse than the first.”

Areas of distribution will include Washington, D.C., Burlington, Vermont, and Boston, Massachusetts to ensure that the staffs and electorates for Sen. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are alerted to this direct attack on workplace democracy.

CDW chair Kristen Swearingen York said, “In anticipation of the 2020 elections, unions’ Washington lobbyists are up to their old tricks, trying to buy influence and pushing changes that would allow them to steamroll over the rights of workers, small and local businesses, entrepreneurs and the gig economy all in the name of making it easier to unionize.”

She continued, “It’s was hard to fathom legislation worse than the card check bill that went down in flames less than a decade ago, until we saw this rotten sequel. We are disappointed that four senators and possible presidential contenders are so out of touch with America that they would support a bill that obviously inflicts substantial harm on workers, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and job creators. Our goal is to ensure there is enough visibility on this issue that moderate, sensible elected leaders across the country will oppose this Workplace Democracy Attack.”

The Coalition today also sent a letter to legislators co-signed by more than 125 national and local organizations opposing the bill. The letter can be found here.

The campaign also launched WorkplaceDemocracyAttack.com, where more information can be found on the details of the cynically misnamed “Workplace Democracy Act.”

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace represents 500 national and local organizations, associations, non-profits, and employers. It worked extensively to defeat card check legislation from 2005 to 2010 and has successfully litigated against anti-democratic, anti-employer, and anti-employee legislation and regulation.