MAYBE EMPLOYEES HAVE ALREADY MADE THEIR CHOICE?

Ok, I said it in print and I said it in person.  Before the new Congress took its seat and before the new President took office, I was sure that the first bill out of the new Congress was going to be the Employee Free Choice Act.  After all, we have, for the first time in a very long time, a House of Representatives controlled by pro-union Democrats.   We have a pro-union Democrat in the White House, and a pro-union Senate controlled by Democrats.  In fact, a pro-union Senate that can invoke cloture and shut down a filibuster on any bill they really want too.  (By the way, I use “pro-union” and not “pro-labor” because most of the people who actually “labor” in this country do not belong to unions). And yet here we are, on the 09-09-09 and still, no Employee Free Choice Act?  Seems I was wrong.

 

That’s good, but one wonders why?  I mean, come on, this was a slam dunk.  So what happened?  Well, a bunch of stuff, for example it took forever for Minnesota to work out their difficulties and actually seat Senator Franken.  Then, one of the clear voices in favor of this bill and a key figure and chairman of the committee, Senator Kennedy became ill and ultimately passed away.  Then Congress and the President decided to tackle health care reform.  And now, this. 

 

On September 7, the Los Angeles Times featured a really interesting article about a recent Gallup Poll.  According to the poll, the general public is not as keen on unions as it once was.  In fact, according to the Times article:

A Gallup poll last month found that the public has become less supportive of unions than at any time since Gallup began asking that question in 1936.

Forty-eight percent of the 1,010 respondents in the Aug. 6-9 telephone poll said they approved of unions, down from 59% a year earlier, Gallup said.

The percentage saying they disapproved of unions jumped to 45% from 31% in the same period. (The rest had no opinion.)

Now unions are pushing hard for the EFCA because they say that the current deck is unfairly stacked against them.  Anyone who has had to deal with an NLRB complaint or election might disagree with that.  In fact, most employers would say that the deck is unfairly stacked in favor of unions already.  Yet, union membership in the private sector continues to decline.  The Times article suggests that one of the reasons that the public’s view of unions is so negative is jealousy.  According to the Times, non-union workers may just be jealous of the security and benefits union workers have.  Really?  Wouldn’t that make union membership increase?  I think another statistic from the poll is more telling. 

And 51% now say unions “mostly hurt” the economy in general, up from 36% in 2006, the last time that question was asked.

 

Seems to me the public may have caught on.  Look at the American auto companies.  One of the most unionized industries in American history.  On the brink of falling apart and being replaced by largely non-union Asian companies.  Sound familiar?  Sure it is, anyone remember big American steel?  Same story.  Still, in speeches given on Labor Day, both President Obama and

Vice President Biden reaffirmed their support for the EFCA.  In fact, the Vice President promised it would pass by the end of the year.  So much for how the public feels.

You can see the rest of the Times story at http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2009/09/public-support-for-unions-slumps-afl-cio.html  and decide for yourself.