March 1, 2007

Union Intimidation Tactics: An Extreme Example

Marc Comtois

So far, I've posted on how the Democrats in the House have attempted to remove the ability of workers to vote via a secret ballot if they want to unionize and how most workers dislike union card checks, which is the "approved alternative" of the House Democrats and their Labor Boss buddies. One area of contention seems to be over just who, exactly, intimidates workers more: unions or companies. As my last post indicated, it seems that most of the company-sponsored intimidation is anecdotal. Additionally, according to the poll I cited, "[o]ver 92 percent of union objections to employer misconduct during organizing elections in 2005 were either withdrawn or, upon investigation by the NLRB, dismissed."

Now, an Anchor Rising reader has emailed me some documents that provide an example of the types of intimidation tactics in which one particular union engaged during an organizing campaign. According to this source:

[T]he attached is quite “interesting” regarding the lengths to which union organizers will go.

It is an employee bulletin board notice that the National Labor Relations Board ordered posted at the trucking company Overnite Transportation facilities. The Teamsters agreed to this as part of a stipulated agreement (also attached) settling charges against the Teamsters, which at the time were attempting to organize Overnite.

By no means is this Teamster activity representative of union pressure during organizing drives, but “less extreme” union pressure certainly is: from fraud (telling employees that signing the card is only so that the union can mail information to the employee’s house) to nagging (many employees sign the cards simply to get the pro-union employees to stop bothering them) to subtle intimidation (groups showing up at employee’s houses seeking signed cards) to more shall we say “unsubtle” intimidation.

Here is a PDF detailing the settlement and here is a PDF containing the actual posting. Here's a sample of some of that "unsubtle" intimidation, which was subsequently prohibited in the postings:

WE WILL NOT brandish or carry any weapon of any kind, including, but not limited to, guns, knives, slingshots, rocks, ball bearings, liquid-filled balloons or other projectiles, sledge hammers, bricks, sticks, or two by fours at or near any picket line, handbilling effort, rally or in any vehicle engaged in ambulatory picketing of any Overnite vehicle or following the private vehicle of any Overnite employee.

WE WILL NOT use or threaten to use a weapon of any kind, including but not limited to guns, knives, slingshots, rocks, ball bearings, liquid-filled balloons or other projectiles, picket signs, sticks, sledge hammers, bricks, hot coffee, bottles, two by fours, lit cigarettes, eggs, or bags or balloons filled with excrement against any non-striking Overnite employee or security guard in the presence any Overnite employee.

WE WILL NOT damage, threaten to damage or attempt to damage any vehicle or equipment owned or operated by Overnite, its employees or security guards, by any means or manner, including but not limited by slingshots, rocks, ball bearings, liquid-filled balloons or other projectiles, knives, picket signs, sticks, sledge hammers, bricks, bottles, two by fours, eggs, or paint, or by tearing off mirrors, windshield wipers or antennas, or breaking windows.

WE WILL NOT disable or attempt to disable vehicles owned or operated by Overnite, by any means or manner, including but not limited to disconnecting or otherwise severing air brake lines, padlocking doors, spraying substances in or otherwise jamming locks, stealing keys, puncturing radiators, cutting hoses or door cables, flattening tires or throwing, placing or otherwise spreading any nails, screws, star nails, jack rocks or similar devices capable of puncturing tires on any road surface.

WE WILL NOT endanger or impede the progress of or harass any non-striking employee or any employee of a neutral person doing business with Overnite, while he or she is operating a company vehicle or his or her own personal vehicle, by forcing or attempting to force him or her off the road, blocking, delaying or limiting his or her access to or passage on any road, swerving toward, driving recklessly near, tailgating or braking abruptly in front of him or her, impeding his or her progress by speeding up and slowing down, driving at speeds below the legal minimums while in front of him or her.

WE WILL NOT endanger or impede the progress of or harass any non-striking employee or any employee of a neutral person doing business with Overnite, while he or she is operating a company vehicle or his or her own personal vehicle, by jumping on vehicles, by attempting to open the doors of vehicles, by throwing paint on windshields, by using mirrors, laser pointers, spot lights or flash photography in the eyes of drivers, or by obstructing the view of drivers by holding picket signs over the windshields of vehicles.

That's just Page 1. To re-emphasize what the e-mailer wrote: by no means is this typical union behavior. But it is a documented example of how far some union's will go to organize a workplace. And it's exhibit "1A" of why secret ballots need to be maintained. And don't forget, secret ballots also protect the worker from their employer, too. I simply fail to see how removing such a fundamental right as the secret ballot can help workers.

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Oh, well, if you're talking about the Teamsters.... :)

Posted by: mrh at March 1, 2007 11:11 PM

White House Statement on HR 800

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 800, the “Employee Free Choice Act.” H.R. 800 would strip workers of the fundamental democratic right to a supervised private ballot election, interfere with the ability of workers and employers to bargain freely and come to agreement over working terms and conditions, and impose penalties for unfair labor practices only on employers -- and not on union organizers -- who intimidate workers. If H.R. 800 were presented to the President, he would veto the bill.

The Administration opposes any effort to circumvent supervised elections and private balloting. It is a fundamental tenet of democracy that individuals are able to vote their conscience, privately, free from the threat of reprisal. It was in part because of widespread intimidation of workers during organizing drives in the 1930s and 1940s that Congress amended the National Labor Relations Act in 1947 expressly to provide workers with the right to a private ballot. Substituting a “card check” mechanism for private ballots would turn back the clock 60 years and return us to a failed system.

Additionally, compulsory binding arbitration as required by this legislation would be an unprecedented government intrusion into the right to bargain freely over working terms and conditions, would take away the right of members of a newly recognized union to accept or reject a contract, and would overturn nearly 60 years of law and precedent on collective bargaining.

Under this bill, workers would lose substantial control over their employment situation: without a private ballot they lose control over whether they belong to a union in the first place, and with mandatory binding arbitration they lose control over the decision to accept a collective bargaining agreement.

Finally, the bill would provide excessively punitive penalties that apply only to employers, not to unions, that interfere illegally with organizing drives. The National Labor Relations Board can already order remedial damages if an employer is found to have committed such violations.

The bill’s one-sided penalties are particularly troubling in conjunction with a mandatory card check process. The bill would effectively expose workers to coercion to join a union through card check, and then muzzle employers with new penalties, without any offsetting check on unions’ behavior in obtaining signed cards.

Posted by: Tom W at March 2, 2007 11:37 AM

What about the many, many, many ways management has of intimidating employess? Like, oh, firing anyone who tries to organize?

Seems pretty intimidating to me. And effective. Of course, it's illegal, but for that to matter someone would actually have to enforce the law. Ha! That's a laugh.

Posted by: klaus at March 5, 2007 7:38 PM

Hello. And Bye.

Posted by: XRumerTest at June 25, 2011 6:12 PM

Hello. And Bye.

Posted by: XRumerTest at June 26, 2011 1:47 AM
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