After an impressive losing streak in the courts, the Obama National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) finally won one. Just recently, the Sixth Circuit issued a decision that preserves the ability of Big Labor to intimidate and harass employers into agreeing to neutrality card check agreements.
The employer, Dana Corporation, and the union, the United Automobile Workers, entered into a Letter of Agreement (LOA) before the employees voted for the union that established a “framework for collective bargaining” that included a neutrality card check agreement, and certain substantive terms to be included in any future collective bargaining agreement.
Prior law prohibited an employer and a union from entering into a collective bargaining agreement that was contingent only on the union winning the majority support of the employer’s employees. Such pre-recognition agreements were reasonably considered as giving the union a “deceptive cloak of authority” that would interfere with employee free choice.
Not so said the Sixth Circuit when the employer and the union do not agree to a complete collective bargaining agreement. The Court deferred to the Board majority which the court said “reasonably determined that the agreement did not impermissibly restrict employee choice.” The only problem is that the NLRB’s “determination” was driven by an ideological vision that favors unionization at all costs. And the court should have known as much. The Board quashed subpoenas that sought to develop evidence on what the employees were told about the LOA. .
Apart from the error in the court’s decision, the complaint that gave rise to it unfortunately focused the debate on the extent to which a pre-recognition agreement can include substantive terms of a future collective bargaining agreement. Hidden between the covers – the elephant in the room – was the impact of neutrality card check agreements that unions extort from employers through corporate campaigns and other pressure tactics on employee rights.
It cannot fairly be disputed that neutrality card check agreements are pre-recognized, they provide unions with a significant advantage and clearly restrict employee free choice. Card check subjects employees’ vote to public scrutiny; neutrality agreements deprive employees of the information they need on the consequences of unionization to make an informed choice. And these agreements are negotiated behind closed doors; the employees whose rights are being restricted have no say in them whatsoever.
For these reasons, WFI supports making the secret ballot the only method for determining employee choice. The availability of card check invites union abuse, undermines workplace democracy, is harmful to the workplace and ultimately the economy.