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New decision by NLRB approves “sweetheart contracts” for unions

Prolific labor relations and political blogger Peter List of  Labor Union Report has posted an important article today about a newly released decision by the National Labor Relations Board.   The stuff List is reporting on is very much the stuff that makes labor relations people geek out, and busy HR Generalist suddenly think that a file review of their I-9 files suddenly sounds like a great idea, but this is important stuff.   Take a look at a portion of what List has to say, and then I will break down the important parts of the decision after the jump:

New NLRB Decision Legitimizes Unions’ Race to the Bottom

They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  If that is true, then every non-union worker and legitimate union agent has great cause to be concerned. You see, the union-controlled National Labor Relations Board just paved the roadway and gave every unscrupulous union boss and employer the means and the   to severely undermine workers rights in America.

On Monday, in the haste to do everything they can to put workers and their paychecks into union bosses’ hands at all costs, the union-controlled NLRB issued a decision that has those in control of today’s unions (and certain kinds of employers) grinning from ear to ear. You see, the union-controlled NLRB just legitimized “sweetheart unions” who come knocking on employers’ doors bearing gifts called “sweetheart contracts.”

In a decision [in PDF] involving the United Auto Workers and the Dana Corporation, the NLRB dismissed unfair labor practice charges that Dana employees filed in 2003 and 2004 against both the UAW and their employer.  The employees’ charges were based on the UAW and Dana entering into a Letter of Agreement on behalf of the then non-union employees that gave the UAW the right to unionize Dana’s employees without a secret-ballot election (through “card-check”) and established the parameters of a contract before the union was even their collective bargaining agent.

Read the rest of List’s article here.

Here is the bottom line of this decision: the NLRB has said it is okay for unions and employers to bargain for a union contract and create a unionized workplace without first asking if that is what the majority of the employees if that is what they really want.   The union and company can meet privately, craft a tentative deal, and then the union can go out and ask employees if they want to sign up for it, with no real opportunity to discuss any of the pros and cons of unionism first.  This doesn’t ensure a union necessarily, but it greatly increases the chance of unionization while at the same time taking the employees right to choose hich union they might want or not want.  Hence the term “sweetheart deal”. The union and company make a deal good for them, but maybe not the nest deal for employees.

Most employers would not agree to card check, even in this type of situation, but some companies would, either to avoid a prolonged campaign, or to ensure that they got a more favorable agreement from a specific union, in exchange for agreeing to campaign neutrality.    That is what makes this ruling one brick in the regulatory implementation of card check.  It gives unions a little more room to pressure companies to accept card check voluntarily, rather than using the private ballot election.

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