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  • Morning Bell: Unions Out to Divide and Conquer Workplaces

    Unions suffered a resounding defeat in Wisconsin last week. They’re far from down and out, however. Unable to reverse their decline in membership under existing law, they are circumventing Congress and using the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to create an entirely new type of union. A new rule hatched by the Obama-appointed board, authorizes the creation of union cells—organizing a few employees within a company to gain a foothold—which will severely impact businesses.

    Until recently, employees organized based on shared job characteristics—for example, all the hourly employees at a firm. The new practice allows micro-unions representing only a small minority of workers in a company. Instead of a grocery store’s employees having a union, the store could face separate unions for cashiers, shelf-stockers, and janitors.

    The NLRB permitted this in its Specialty Healthcare decision last year, allowing organized labor to form unions by job title. A decision last month by one of the NLRB’s regional directors demonstrated just how harmful—and absurd—a policy this is. The regional director green-lit a union election at the Bergdorf Goodman department store. But most employees will not get to vote; only shoe salesmen will cast ballots. Not all shoe salesmen, however. Only those selling women’s shoes.

    As the HR Policy Association explains:

    The fact that hours, benefits (including the same health plans), and general productivity goals were common among all employees was dismissed because, among other reasons, the sale of women’s shoes ‘requires a distinct skill set from other sales associates due to the unique nature of the product they are selling.’

    While the men’s shoe salesmen—or any other type of salesmen—at the store will not get a say in the union’s presence, these excluded workers will share in all the risks and downsides of unionizing. Strikes will also harm them, and if the union bankrupts the company, they will also lose their jobs.

    With private-sector union membership down to 7 percent, labor leaders are desperate. Even the government unions are seeing workers quit en mass—when they have a choice. Columnist Charles Krauthammer described this lesson in Wisconsin:

    Without the thumb of the state tilting the scale by coerced collection, union membership became truly voluntary. Result? Newly freed members rushed for the exits. In less than one year, AFSCME, the second-largest public-sector union in Wisconsin, has lost more than 50 percent of its membership.

    Labor leaders and the NLRB have made several attempts to curb workers’ rights in recent years. They have tried to take away the secret ballot in union elections and to shorten the amount of time workers have to decide on unionizing. They have threatened to demand access to workers’ email addresses and phone numbers in workplaces that are targeted for unionization. The NLRB itself has its own scandals and has served as a revolving door for union big shots.

    The board’s tactics are in step with the Obama Administration’s penchant for skipping Congress completely.

    “The recent decision at Bergdorf Goodman is an example of the labor board’s doing through regulation what we ought to be doing through legislation on the floor of the Senate,” said Senator Johnny Isakson (R–GA), who introduced legislation last year that would reverse the NLRB’s decision on the so-called micro-unions.

    The practice will have devastating consequences for businesses and workers alike. Management could face contract negotiations with multiple union cells under one roof, which “increases the likelihood of industrial unrest and workplace disputes as different unions with differing goals represent different employees,” said Fred Wszolek of the Workforce Fairness Institute.

    In addition to divided workplaces, workers will face diminished professional opportunities. As Heritage’s James Sherk has explained, “Over time, unions destroy jobs in the companies they organize. In manufacturing, three-quarters of all union jobs have disappeared over the past three decades, while the number of non-union jobs has increased.”

    With organized labor cells, workers would be stuck in their current roles without the chance to advance through departments. Fragmenting the workplace into multiple bargaining units will make it very difficult for workers to work their way up through departments. They wouldn’t have the opportunities that Joe McFarland had when he took an hourly job at Home Depot in 1993.

    McFarland started out working in the electrical aisle. Over the next 20 years, he learned all he could about other departments in the store, worked hard—and got promoted. He rose from his hourly job to Western Division President, where he now oversees more than 440 stores and 78,700 employees in 13 states.

    If the electrical aisle employees had chosen to unionize, McFarland could have been stuck there. He wouldn’t have had the opportunity to train across departments and move up into management.

    But big labor’s strategy isn’t about growing skills and advancing careers. It’s about grasping for any amount of power—and union dues—they can grab.

    Quick Hits:

    • Russian police raided the homes of opposition leaders in advance of a scheduled opposition rally in Moscow, “the largest pre-emptive action against dissidents since the beginning of the protest movement last December,” according to the Financial Times.
    • President Obama said in an interview yesterday that he was too busy to help Democrats with the Wisconsin recall election. “The truth of the matter is that, as president of theUnited States, I’ve got a lot of responsibilities,” he said.
    • North Dakotans will vote today on whether to abolish their state’s property tax. Both unions and the Chamber of Commerce in the state oppose the measure.
    • Last night, the White House announced at 10 pm that Commerce Secretary John Bryson will take a medical leave of absence following traffic accidents reportedly brought on by seizures.
    • Today, Heritage celebrates the 25th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s call to Mikhail Gorbachev to “Tear down this wall.”
    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    45 Responses to Morning Bell: Unions Out to Divide and Conquer Workplaces

    1. glynnda says:

      It will be up to employees then to begin to figure out the harm of the corrupt union practices. It is truly too bad as unions could have been a true force for good will and understanding between employers and employees. Unfortunately corruption has been a part of unions almost since the inception of the NLRB decades ago. The employer also has a role and responsibility in this mess. They have accepted too much garbage from union leaders rather than taking on their role as negotiator responsibly and confronting union corruption. They must do so now or face downsizing their business again.

    2. toledofan says:

      It seems to me that each day there is another sinsiter twist and turn in the Obama administrations efforts to remake America into a Facist state. Their agenda is, I think, so far out of the mainstrem thinking, it's pathetic that anyone would want America to look like China, Russia, or Mexico. Why would we ever consider giving away our God given freedoms for an ideology we know doesn't work.

    3. Jim Uberti says:

      This article alone is reason enough to defeat Obama in November.
      This new wrinkle, if it were to become reality, would have employers scrambling to put out individual "brush fires" as they try to keep their businesses open.
      Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue. There would be pockets of employees on strike at any given time.
      The NLRB has been Obama's most potent weapon. He needs to go!!!

      • Roger S. says:

        Got that right! This is the Saul Alinsky method on steroids ….directed at job-creators….with federal sanction. — Divide and conquer, union style. The NLRB needs to go, forever!

    4. Ron Welch says:

      Cell union employees have only one bargaining chip and that is to strike. In todays economic enviroment if a small group chooses to strike while the rest of the grocery or shoe store keep working, it would be most ineffective. Unions are pretty much history in this country until and if industry and other jobs return.

    5. John Bayless says:

      [FROM WIKIPEDIA] On January 4, 2012, Obama announced recess appointments to three seats on the board: Sharon Block, Terence F. Flynn, and Richard Griffin. The appointments were criticized by Republicans, including the House Speaker John Boehner, as unconstitutional and "a brazen attempt to undercut the role of the Senate to advise and consent the executive branch on appointments", according to The New York Times. Although made as recess appointments, critics questioned their legality, arguing that Congress had not officially been in recess as pro forma sessions had been held. Former U.S. attorney general Edwin Meese stated that in his opinion, since the appointments were made when the Senate was "demonstrably not in recess" they represented "a constitutional abuse of a high order." On January 12, 2012 the U.S. Justice Department released a memo stating that appointments made during pro forma sessions are supported by the Constitution and precedent.

    6. Nick verna says:

      We must fire mr Obama in November….period….

    7. Steelreign says:

      Why demonize Unions, the American Workers? It's the Corporations who are trying to bust unions and lower the standard of living for the working class throughout America. Maybe instead of blaming every problem on labor costs, Corporate types might want to eliminate mismanagement that costs millions of dollars, million dollar bonuses for the CEO's who run these companies into the ground. They might want to listen to the employees advise and ideas instead of a special projects engineer who has no idea how to do the jobs, yet wants to change how the jobs are done to be more efficient and then spends millions only to see those changes turn out to be a massive failure after they were warned it would not work. Then they demand the workers take a payout to subsidize their mistakes. I guess you have to destroy the working class to fix the country and the economy.

      • John Bayless says:

        I have to nod my head with some of your comments and LOL with other parts of your comment. I agree with "Corporate types might want to eliminate mismanagement that costs millions of dollars, million dollar bonuses for the CEO's who run these companies into the ground", but have to ask if you are really serious with your statement that employees could assist in finding ways to lower costs. Unions are going to throw up every obstacle that they can find as far as decreasing cost. Give me a break. With every action (Unionization) there is an equal and opposite reaction, modernization (fewer employees) and if that is not possible, then bankruptcy or moving the manufacturing overseas.

      • Slave2liberty says:

        rigth on, man!

        why the hell should managers, executives and business owners have any say in how their company is run. We should get rid of owners and management altogether and just let the benevolent workers take charge. Obviously, the non-ownership employees know best and are most capable of running business that's why, they're not running their own….</sarcasm>

      • Patty says:

        Why do people forget that in any "contract talks" there are two sides talking? The Unions can ask for the moon, but it is Management who agrees to these items. If they can't figure out the best contracts for their company, then they need to be fired. Don't blame the unions, they just try to keep their members alive and well.

        • Wayne Peterkin says:

          And often keep their members "alive and well" by strikes that can cripple and bankrupt employers. Avoiding that is why employers often give in to demands. Now if the NLRB would allow them to simply hire replacement workers, we couldn't blame the unions any longer.

      • Wayne Peterkin says:

        I don't know of anyone trying to lower the standard of living. However, I also know that paying some relatively unskilled people $30/hr to install a few bolts on an assembly line is inflating the cost of things we buy and is unjustifiable. That said, there are three major contributors to controllable business costs: Labor costs, taxes, and regulatory burdens. Since we generally do not want to reduce living standards by reducing incomes, that means we need to keep the taxes and regulatory costs as low as possible, otherwise we see jobs leaving the nation for elsewhere. If we don't wise up as a nation, jobs will continue leaving the country and be difficult to replace.

    8. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Again, you are blaming the wrong bunch. Who appointed members of the NLRB? Obama! Who does the unions support with membership dues? Obama! Why then do you not realize it's Obama that is in control. We must face the fact that unions in general, have been infected with Marxist that does Obama's bidding. These people do not act on their own without direct instruction. Ask the question: who is giving those directions? Obama!

    9. chukker says:

      If these communist union organizers spent as much time doing good as they do plotting evil and destruction in their host businesses and country, the world would certainly be a better place.

      It's all about power and greed: using the drones (useful idiots) to maintain and grow the power and coffers of those at the top. Like the Obama presidency . . ..

    10. This article points out another "end run" policy that by-passes Congress. I read something like this going on almost every day. Obama is trying to get in place programs that give him more and more control before the election. He did the same thing when he was elected in 2008. He "rushed" through programs, like the socialized medicine or Obamacare plan before the ink was dry and anyone had a chance to read the legislation. The "czar sprinkled" agencies find ways to introduce programs and policies without any approvals from Congress or the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is slowly being filled with people who follow his "Socialist" agenda. After three years of his administration I started naming him "President Zero". I now have to change that title because his greatest accomplishment and the only one he seems to be expert in, is dividing this country. His new title is "The Divide and Conquer President".

    11. lfmorgan says:

      oh well, I tried! Goobye Oh Mighty ONE!

    12. Donald DaCosta says:

      The Unions as well as other organizations dedicated to self aggrandizement, personal enrichment and the acquisition of power, are dedicated to and have become expert at, conflict and confrontation as their preferred negotiating tactic. All of these organizations are becoming increasingly desperate, antagonistic and demanding; all resort to the use of fear as their weapon of choice and none seem capable of modifying their approach. Collaboration and cooperation is never a consideration though it wold likely save many of these single issue movements from the process of self destruction evident in the modern Union movement.

    13. J E Houser says:

      When I learn of "other" preposterous things that unions spend their money on, I wonder why in the *** would someone be willing send money to them when they have to work for it.

    14. Wayne Peterkin says:

      As with virtually everything else he has touched, which is pretty much everything, Obama has twisted an agency that was intended to be an neutral arbiter of labor/management disputes into a highly partisan dictator of liberal policy. Once Obama is replaced, we can only hope that new government management will revert the NLRB back into the entity it was supposed to be or eliminates it altogether.

      • John Bayless says:

        Fat Chance of that happening. President Bush tried to appoint members to the NLRB in 2007 and 2008, but the democrats in congress would not approve them. The NLRB was only operating with 2 members for a few years. I assume that it will be the same if / when Romney is elected. GRIDLOCK

    15. gil doan says:

      Well, it figures. Of course.____But if they keep it up, Americans will soon catch on.____And then the dividers and the conquerors will start leavng__even more rapidly than they already are. One or two of__the divide-and-conquer types in one threatened shop__will soon feel pretty lonely.

    16. Eileen says:

      Typical 'Obama-type legislation' to divide us. Now we will get to hear about all the micro-unions arguing with each other over who gets the most money and stuff. If this gets put into action, it will be to their own demise. How very sad – Obama does not know how to unite employees to run a business that serves the needs of citizens.

    17. Richard Waller says:

      As a retired member of a private sector union, the distinction between public and private unions must be made often and frequently for me. Public workers unions are the problem because they often wind up negotiating with people they have put in office! Does that make sense??? certainly not for the taxpayer!
      Samuel Gompers, founder of the AFL, later to become the AFL/CIO was totally against collective bargaining for public workers as were two later presidents, notably George Meaney and Walter Reuther. FDR, the great progressive did not believe in collective bargaining for public workers and last I heard Obama has not tried to give collective bargaining rights to the two million federal employees within his regime.

      • Clearhead says:

        You must have left America on or about November 6, 2008. Things have changed here, Dicky boy. But welcome back anyway and we hope you had a nice time wherever you were.

    18. Jeanne Stotler says:

      When Unions were first formed there was rampant misuse of power among the corporations, they worked their employees for long hours, low pay and without breaks, paid vacations, overtime. etc. Today we have LAWS on federal books and State books regarding age, hours, breaks, overtime etc. Not only do corporations realize that having clean, safe conditions, fare pay, vacations, etc. provides for high morale which in turn means more out put, which means more profit, this makes Unions redundant and their only aim to CONTROL workers and Goverment . BHO has no idea what he's gotten into, he has opened a powder keg, WE THE PEOPLE will not allow him to put this country in the sewer so China and Russia will take over, we know he's Geo. Soros puppet and we need to evict both, Obama from the WH and Soros from the USA, he became a citizen with full intent to overthrow the gov't. that is a federal crime.

    19. John Ames says:

      How about trying to make unions a positive force, rather than just a cost?

      I envision a situation where employees are free to join or not join a union. Furthermore, there would be no limit on the number of unions active in a given enterprise.

      Why not allow enterprises to pay employees separately if they are in the union or out of it. That is, union employees would be paid, and work to rules, defined by their union contract; and non-union employees would be paid whatever they could negotiate with the employer. This would give both the union and the independent employees an incentive to be the best they could be. A union might develop a reputation for admitting to membership only the most qualified workers, and thereby being able to command a premium in pay and other conditions.

      The union contracts would have to be negotiated so that workers could move between tasks in order to cross train and develop new skills. I realize that this whole idea would be complex, but would at least be worth studying.

      The whole idea is to convert unions into something that employers would seek out like any other supplier of services rather than avoid.

      • Pragmatic says:

        I applaud your comment and your open-mind. I think people often forget the unions are a free market development, but then we grant them monopoly power in an organization and the inefficiencies follow. I don't have the answer, but your post seems like a good place to start studying.

        • Bobbie says:

          Just think if more people could see better of themselves to work through those ambitions for themselves without having to pay a government union (known as big brother communist dictators today,) to do it for them.

          Didn't Jimmy Hoffa Sr. detest the government? Now his wimpy son (exploiting his dad's name) is doing the government's bidding? Divide and conquer workplaces! hmm…

      • Larry N Stouffer says:

        The shortest distance between these two points is to make America a RIGHT TO WORK country. This way anyone who wants to would be welcome to join any club (union) they'd like to. Or not. The key component of such a new law would be that these clubs or unions would have NO MONOPOLY on anything.

    20. Johncdavidson says:

      Every day, new organizing groups are popping up all over using all sorts of ruses to get a foothold. One of the more obvious ones are food banks located in areas that actually have no need for their services. In fact, they may well put local groceries out of business. Well, maybe that is their intent.

    21. will says:

      Think of Bergdorf Goodman as America without a Constitution. The newly unionized Women's Shoes Department is Congress. The country has an Executive branch (the CEO), and a Judicial Branch (the Board), and the rest of the country is the states (other departments) and the general public (Employees.) Well, on day one Woman's Shoes, oops Congress makes a demand for tenure (Safe Districts, no term limits.) The Executive and Judicial Branches cave… after all, people in Congress are unique. With that victory secured demands follow for free pensions and free health benefits. Expensive, but not a problem… after all, the 1%ers are making all the money and not paying their fair share. The States and the General Public are evenly split between those who want to go back to the country's founding principles and those who think the 1%ers should also fund their retirement and free lifetime healthcare. Likely outcomes for each side of the metaphor. Bergdorf Goodman's troubles spread to other departments, and then to Neiman Marcus and both go under. America's future will be decided in November. Mixed metaphor … Bloomingdale's (China) is smiling.

    22. victorbarney says:

      Here's the real deal folks, but in this marxist(anti-christ, as Islam, except marxist don't even accept that there is a spiritual deal) generation at the end of man's age was predicted even in Issaiah(Yeshayayahu in Hebrew), but actually really was begun was back at the beginning when our first mother made a first blorn blood covenant with her first-born son Cain, but it turned out to be a blood covenant of death when Cain murdered his younger brother Able and that is exactly WHY in the LAST DAYS OF MAN'S 6,000 GIVEN YEARS DID OUR MORE VERBALY EDEPT WOMEN NOT ONLY VOTE FOR THE PROMISED "FUNDAMENTAL TRANSFORMATION of government" into MARXISM, but also elected the "FORBIDDEN FOREIGNER" of Deuteronomy 17:15 to forefill her first-born blood covenant of death to end man's age! And, that's besides both women & blacks being "gatherer's" in their general demeanor! Just saying…

    23. GRACE E. PRATTI says:


    24. Jack W Estes says:

      Been on both ends of the Union-Mgmt spectrum in my career. It seemed like union bosses rapidly turned into thugs bent on extracting as much blood from the Company as possible and looking out for the union "brothers"? Once the employee moved up from rank-and-file to steward to business rep, it was all out war on their co-workers AND the company. All this to the detriment of successful business proliferation and harmonious worker relations. This is not the days of The Jungle and 1920's Chicago Meat Packing Plants.

      • Clearhead says:

        "Fir 'tis a common proof that lowliness is young ambition's ladder whereto the climber upward turns his face. But when he has attained the utmost round, he looks back down, scorning the base degrees by which he did ascend" (William Shakespeare) i've been there and done that also, Jack. And you're so correct — This is not the 1920's, and we don't need another United Mineworkers' Union. Earlier today, Lloyd Scalllan pointed out where the blame actually lies. As Harry Truman implied last century, "The buck stops (there)" Yessir, Mr. obama has certainly left his Marx on America.

    25. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      FDR and George Meaney were right. Unions have no place in government. If union membership was made voluntary, the SEIU, AFSCME, and other public unions, including the teachers' unions, will see their members
      head for the lifeboats. The unions are just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    26. belleboy says:

      Evil is evil. I will believe this union crap when pigs are able to fly.
      "Save America, Defeat Obama."

    27. RennyG says:

      Chaos, devide and then take over. No need for the Constution or Congress. "He" is control now. Has anyone read the "Alinsky Model?" Picture perfect!!!!!!! I don't understand why we are so unconcerned?
      Talking or complaining about the situation won't STOP IT/HIM!!!!!!
      I am on my knees praying to the one in control!!!!!!!!!!

    28. Bobbie says:

      anyone hired by government (not by the people) paid through government tax dollars (not by choice) should be the first to sacrifice since it was their boss government that governed us ALL into hell (not the peoples' fault the government refuses responsibilities in all areas the government takes on, budgeting behind the people that expect integrity, while those that don't work for but forced to pay government gets the biggest blow when it's not within our control. Wanting unions to back you today is admitting your personal work isn't worth it.

      Unions are bully base that give equal pay and benefits to the non productive, liabilities as the most ethical worker. Guess what happens when a company gains more of the former with few of the latter? Same thing that's happening in all public services, no quality… union backed. wasting time, money and brains…

    29. texan59 says:

      And just exactly what will Romney do about this type of ludicrous action from the NLRB during his first 100
      days , if elected.

    30. guest says:

      Unions are Dinosouers like the typewiter, house phones, newspapers, and many other things. They just do not know it yet. We now have government to tell us how to work.

    31. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      It's time to divide and conquer the unions.

    32. Oscar Manful says:

      Labour Unions offer an integral resource in the conflict management division of most organizations. They are a "necessary evil". Simply because they manage conflicts and labour disputes. The piece is an insightful analyses of the nature, work and inclination of these societies.

      A necessary evil because, they are known to provoke as well as insight violence. Legislation of the highest order tackles such issues and problems. The No Child Left Behind policy, places the minds of most parents to rest, because Education is always a thorny issue. As such, such legislative processes must be encouraged, the Socialist parliamentary elections in France of Francois Hollande is encouraging a well as noteworthy.

      Internal Corporate strategies may include the setting up of special boards to tackle Labour grievances and shortages. A board of Directors in some Multinationals, including some African countries, offer guidelines.

      The Obama administration will do well to address some of these challenges.

    33. Richard says:

      Wow! The Oval Office, an organized union cell. All that union money for 2008 election and the more recent
      bailouts make more sense now. Whoodda tjhunkit?!

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