Argument: EFCA opens door to intimidation of union holdouts

Issue Report: Employee Free Choice Act


James Sherk and Paul Kersey. “How the Employee Free Choice Act Takes Away Workers’ Rights”. Heritage Foundation. 23 Apr. 2007 – Harassing Holdouts. With card checks, union organizers know who has and has not signed up to join the union, allowing them to repeatedly approach and pressure reluctant workers who declined to sign after the first sales pitch. With this technique, a worker’s decision to join the union is binding, while a decision to opt out only means “not this time.”

Moreover, some organizers go beyond pressure to outright harassment. Hotel workers in Los Ange­les, for example, had to seek an injunction against union organizers after groups of eight to ten orga­nizers harassed employees on their homes’ porches late at night.[14] A labor lawyer explained what hap­pened to Trico Marine employees during a card-check drive:

Some employees, when solicited at their homes by union representatives, said, “No,” to signing a card; yet, they reported repeated, frequent home visits by union representa­tives continuing to try to secure their signa­tures, and they complained to the company of this harassment. After 8 visits, one vessel officer in southern Louisiana had an arrest warrant issued against a union organizer…. Employees volunteered that they signed cards just to stop the pressure and harassment.[15]

A card signed after union organizers’ eighth pitch to a reluctant worker hardly reflects that worker’s true opinion; nor does a card that is signed just to prevent further harassment.

[…]Union Coercion a Real Problem. In fact, union coercion and intimidation are not as rare as labor activists contend. Thousands of unfair labor prac­tices cases have been filed against unions since 2000, including 1,417 for coercive statements, 416 for violence and assaults, 546 for harassment, and 1,325 for threatening statements.[65] Many of these cases did not involve election campaigns, and the unions were not found guilty in every case, but these numbers show that workers have a real prob­lem with union intimidation.

Workers have a right to decide whether to join a union without being subjected to coercion or pres­sure. Threats and intimidation from either employ­ers or unions are equally repugnant. By increasing penalties against only employers, the EFCA sends the message that union threats are less of an injus­tice than employer threats. Prioritizing cases of employer discrimination forces workers who face union intimidation to wait longer for justice.

The law should not make this distinction. A worker assaulted by union members for refusing to sign a union card has been subjected to no less an injustice done than has a worker fired by his employer for signing a union card. If Congress believes stiffer labor law penalties are needed, those higher penalties should apply equally to employers and to unions. Cases of union violence and employer intimidation should also have equal priority.

“The Impact of the Employee Free Choice Act on Employers”. Ford and Harrison – EFCA Would Create An Atmosphere Of Peer Pressure … Or Worse. The NLRB’s secret ballot election process protects employees from any undue pressure at the crucial moment when they are being asked whether or not they want to be represented by a union. No one ever knows how the employee voted, unless s/he volunteers that information. EFCA would strip away the secrecy of the process and introduce the potential for high pressure tactics in its place. It would subject the employee to the urgings of professional union organizers and pro-union coworkers in an unregulated atmosphere.