Thursday, February 8, 2007

Former UFCW Organizer Speaks Out on EFCA

We received an excellent and informative e-mail earlier today from a former union organizer who wanted to share his opinion of the Employee Free Choice Act. We asked if we could post it and he agreed on the condition of anonymity...So, here it is:

I’d like to make a couple of comments regarding the “Employee Free Choice Act. While it may or may not pass into law, there are some things that people should know. First, I want to lay a foundation that I know what I’m talking about.

I’ve been involved in labor relations and later labor relations & human resources on a full-time basis since February 1972. I was a union representative until 1980 when I moved to management’s side of the table.

From February 1972 until October 1978 I was an International Representative for the Retail Clerks International Union (predecessor of the UFCW). My last three years as an International Rep I served on the Executive Staff of Don Hofer, the International Vice President assigned to the Northwest Region of the US covering Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. During this time I worked as an organizer, a coordinator of organizers or other special projects including labor negotiations. I worked on assignments throughout the NW Region and in other areas of the United States.

I left the International Union in October 1978 for a position as Secretary-Treasurer of UFCW Local 992 in Salem, Oregon. Among my many duties, I coordinated organizing at the local.

Local 992 has since merged with other UFCW Locals to form Local 555 based in Portland, Oregon. I worked for the local until February 1980 when I turned in my “black” hat for a “white” one, handling labor relations on the management side of the table.

It is never a problem getting employees to sign an Authorization Card or an Authorization Petition.

Here are some of the more common things I have personally seen organizers do to get signatures:

Without explaining what the card does, they’ll tell an employee to “fill out” the card to get more information about the union.

The union rep will have two different colored Authorization Cards. They will be identical except for the color of the printing and the color of the card stock it’s printed on. If it appears toward the end of the union rep’s presentation that the employee(s) are reluctant to fill out a card; the rep will say that filling out one color card means he/she wants the union and the other card means they either don’t want the union or they want more information.

The union rep will ask the employee to fill out a card because he/she’s putting together a mailing list to keep the employees “fully informed” about whatever issue they’re fronting.

The union rep will ask the employee to fill out a card so employees will get a chance to “vote” on whether or not the employees will have a union. (I have seen this done in cases where the employer has already agreed to a card-check.)

There is no obligation to signing a card, that the employee can change his/her mind later if he/she wants to. (Of course they never can get the card back.)

The union rep will ask employees to sign the attendance sheet for a meeting when it is actually a petition with language that clearly authorizes the union to represent the

I know most wouldn’t believe that people would fall for these misrepresentations but they do….and in droves!

When discovering they’ve been duped, employees sometimes ask the union rep to get their card back. Of course, they never get it back! The excuse used is the card was sent back to some distant headquarters or main office and not readily available.

I’ve been on management’s side of the table and have dealt with unions both at the bargaining table and in organizing drives now for 27 years. In general, union tactics have not changed since I was a union rep and there’s no reason to believe they will.

Frankly, I believe if the “Employee Free Choice Act” becomes law the misrepresentations and abuses by union reps and officials will go off the chart.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The TWU is trying to organize the dealers in Las Vegas. I think this is big news and they have potentially a lot of money to gain from it. There are over 10,000 in Las Vegas alone. They must me stopped. Pro-union dealers have duped the less knowledgeable and young about the union with some of the exact tactics mentioned in this article. Something must be done! Someone help!