Archive for August, 2009


Like every other day of the week there was a funeral in Great Britain today.  But this one was different.  It wasn’t royalty or a celebrity that left us, it was Harry Patch.  Mr. Patch was the last known survivor of any nationality to have fought in the trenches in the WWI.  Mr. Patch was born on June 17, 1898 and when he passed away last month he was the third oldest man in the world and the oldest man in Europe.  He was by all accounts a simple man. 


So this got me thinking.  We are surrounded by people everywhere with vast pools of life experience.  We see them everywhere, yes, even at work.  And at work, as often as not, the old guy who sweeps the floor or who works in accounting and has been doing so for the last 30 years is just that:  The old guy who has been around forever.  He is not quite as fast as he used to be or as sharp as he once was.  And we don’t really give it much thought beyond that.  We should.


As we talk about how to manage, we always focus on the new thing.  The latest trend.  The shiny new tool.  And we often forget about the past.  About what made whatever company we work for great to begin with.  That guy who sweeps the floor, he knows. 


Yes, pay attention to what is new.  Be bold and embrace change.  But don’t forget what got you where you are to begin with.  Learn from the past.  That guy who has been around for 30 years probably has a lot more to offer than clean floors.  Talk to him, learn from him. 

AND WE’RE OFF . . . .

When I decided to start a blog on labor and employment law I spent a fair amount of time trying to decide how to kick it off.    What do I write about first and what tone should we take with the blog.  You’ll be happy to know that I have decided both.  Second first.  The tone will be a bit more irreverent than you may be used to from a lawyer.  Those of you that have read anything that I write for WNJs newsletter probably guessed that.  Why irreverent?  Because, especially today, I think we can all use a little humor.  Besides, I want you to read the thing. If I spent all of my time reciting facts from cases and pointing out the intricacies of a particular bill (we will do some of that, but only where I think it is really important) you would all stop reading the thing and then I would be writing to myself.  Which frankly is about as much fun as talking to myself!  “Oh, it is not, stop saying that.”  “Yes it is, mind your own business.”  Sorry, I got off track.


Anyway, having decided on the tone, I needed a first post.  And along came the United States Senate.  According to the headline in Friday the 17th‘s New York Times, “Democrats Drop Key Part of Bill to Assist Unions.”  You can see it here:

What Bill are we talking about now?  Oh yea, the Employee Free Choice Act, the talk of the labor lawyer town recently.  Also known as the “Card Check Act” the EFCA would amend the NLRA to among other things mandate union certification if a majority of folks in an appropriate unit signed union authorization cards.  No campaign, no election, no nothing.  Just behind the scenes union strong arming of your employees without you having a chance to do or say anything about it.  Interesting definition those unions have of “free choice” don’t you think.  So what “Key Part” of the Bill did the Senate agree to drop?  Why the card check part, that’s what key part?  Wow, the unions must be going nuts?  Not really.  I checked and as of the time I wrote this, which was well after the Times piece came out, only one comment from any union head and that was not a negative comment.  According to, Andy Stern, president of the SEIU said:


“As we have said from day one, majority signup is the best way for workers to have the right to choose a voice at their workplace. The Employee Free Choice Act is going through the usual legislative process, and we expect a vote on a majority signup provision in the final bill or by amendment in both houses of Congress.”


You can see the quote here:


Mr. Stern does not seem that broken up.  How come, after all, what is a card check bill without the card check.  Well let me tell you what it is, it is still a problem for employers and frankly for the economy.  Why?  Because this was never the worst part of this bill.  What was the worst part was always, and continues to be the provision that mandates arbitration of 1st contracts if agreement is not reached within a very short specified time limit.  Having an arbitration panel decide what you should pay and what benefits you should provide is likely to cause a whole lot of business to go under.  How is that good for the economy?  How is that good for employees?  How is it good for anyone? 

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