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Hearing Recap: Big Labor Tactics Edition

Hearing Recap: Big Labor Tactics Edition

The Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee convened today to shed light on the nefarious tactics used by Big Labor to unionize workplaces. 
Chairman Bob Good (R-VA) kicked off the hearing by sorting the array of unfair union tactics into three main buckets: corporate campaigns, neutrality agreements, and salting. Each of these tactics are intended to give Big Labor an unfair leg up in labor organizing and ultimately erode trust in the employer-employee relationship.

Mr. Michael Alcorn, a crew member at Trader Joe’s, testified to his personal experience navigating a workplace with pro-union agitators utilizing these methods. “They’ve done nothing but be adversarial, misleading, exclusive, and discriminate against anyone who challenges or disagrees with them,” he said. “It seems that their only tactic is to paint Trader Joe’s as a bad company, while also seeking to silence those of us who don’t agree.”

Two other Republican-invited witnesses testified: Mr. William Messenger, Vice President and Legal Director of the National Right to Work Legal Foundation; and Mr. Stephen Delie, Director of Labor Policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

On the other hand, Democrats chose a Biden partisan to testify on behalf of Big Labor’s union schemes, Ms. Lynn Rhinehart. Ms. Rinehart, a Senior Fellow at the Economic Policy Institute, was senior counselor to the Acting Secretary of Labor under President Biden and a leader on the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment in her recent past.

Moving to questioning, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) poked holes in the unfair bias towards unionizers. He criticized the fact that a small minority of workers can effectively speak on behalf of an entire workplace.

Mr. Delie gave a clear example. “In Riverside, California, there was an election at a Starbucks franchise. That election was won by the union with 11 percent support. There were 28 workers at that franchise. Three voted for. One opposed. Twenty-four abstained.”

Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) talked about the pitfalls of top-down organizing tactics as opposed to bottom-up. In an exchange with Mr. Messenger, she asked, “Can you discuss how top-down unionizing tactics undermine an atmosphere of free and open debate?”

“One of the aims of almost any top-down organizing campaign is what unions euphemistically call a neutrality agreement,” said Mr. Messenger. However, he continued, “The key to neutrality is a gag clause on employer speech.”

Union salting can also skew the dynamics of a workplace. In Rep. Rick Allen’s (R-GA) words: “Salts are paid union agents and have no obligation to disclose their union affiliation with their employer or coworkers.”

He then added, “In contrast, if an employer hires a consultant to discuss the impacts of unionization with workers, the employer must disclose his or her identity, compensation, and activities.”

Republicans have a solution. Rep. Allen’s bill, the Employee Rights Act, would enshrine secret ballots elections, workplace transparency provisions, and many other worker protections that would reestablish the rightful balance in union negotiations. While the choice to join a union is ultimately a personal one, no union can be just without a free and fair election.

After an hour of testimony, it became abundantly clear that the balance of power has obviously been artificially distorted. Rep. Eric Burlison (R-MO) asked a simple question. Why? What happened to the American workforce? 
Mr. Delie responded with a simple answer: “The American worker has changed.”

“Workers want different things. They want the ability to make a choice freely and fairly and without interference. They want that choice to be meaningful, but they also want independence and a direct relationship and workplace flexibility and work from home—a whole bunch of things that aren’t conducive to a one-size-fits-all approach to how you regulate a workplace,” he added.

Bullseye, Mr. Delie.

Bottom Line: Republicans want free and fair union elections for a freer and fairer American workplace. 
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