LABOR NOTES: On the Dunlop Report
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 1994 15:39:09 -0700
From: Labor Notes 
Subject: dunlop commission article

Clinton's Commission Opens Door to Company Unions

	-- by Steve Early 

"If organized labor hoped [the Dunlop Commission report] would be an 
administration polemic that could be used to blaze the trail for labor law 
reform in 1995, this ain't it."  Jeffrey McGuiness, president of the pro-
management Labor Policy Association, quoted in the Wall Street 
Journal.  

After months of hearings, the Commission on the Future of Worker-
Management Relations, headed by former Labor Secretary John 
Dunlop, released half its report on June 2.  The 163-page document 
contains no recommendations. Instead, it summarizes the facts collected 
by the commission from the workers, managers, union representatives, 
lawyers, and academics who testified before it.  

Dunlop and his Commission will now engage in six more months of 
discourse on the problems they have identified. During that time, they 
will continue to seek a labor-management consensus on ways to  
modernize the legal frameworkfor union organizing, contract 
negotiations, employee participation, and dispute resolution.  The 
Commission's official recommendations will be sent to the White House 
in December. 

By no coincidence, this means that any new labor law reform legislation 
won't be introduced until after this fall's mid-term elections, which are 
not expected to produce a Congress more sympathetic to workers' 
rights.  More significantly, the proposals the Commission eventually 
comes up with may not be all that helpful to workers trying to 
overcome employer resistance to unionization.

UPBEAT

Even after the Commission heard many wrenching tales about violations 
of workers' rights, its interim findings emphasize upbeat accounts of 
employee involvement at non-union firms, rather than what needs to be 
done to curb employer unfair labor practices:   Where employee 
participation is sustained over time and integrated with other 
organization policies and practices, the evidence suggests it generally 
improves economic performance. If more widely diffused, employee 
participation and labor-management cooperation may contribute to the 
nation's competitiveness and living standards.  

To the Commission and its Clinton Administration backers, Section 
8(a)(2) of the National Labor Relations Act, which restricts employer-
dominated labor organizations, is still viewed as a hindrance to such 
diffusion. In releasing the Commission findings, Labor Secretary Robert 
Reich noted that many managers feel that the Act is a constraint on 
labor-management teamwork.  According to Reich, there is an 
enormous potential for productivity improvements that has not been 
tapped into sufficiently because of 8(a)(2) and other obstacles to 
jointness.  As the Wall Street Journal reported the next day, the 
Commission's findings in this area could pave the way for the Clinton 
Administration to relax legal impediments on `quality circles' and other 
employee participation groups in non-union settings. 

NONSENSE

Several union organizing directors were critical of the Commission's 
treatment of organizing issues and its tendency to downplay the degree 
of legal and illegal management opposition to unions. "We basically say 
that the number of illegal dismissals is quite small in relation to the total 
workers engaged in organizing," said commissioner Paul Allaire, 
chairman of Xerox Corp.  "Nonsense," said Bob Muehlenkamp, 
organizing director for the Teamsters. 

"Virtually every employer violates the rights of virtually every worker 
who seeks to establish collective bargaining today.  The report grossly 
understates the level of employer interference, apparently in an effort to 
win management support for some sort of watered-down reform," 
added Larry Cohen, organizing director for the Communications 
Workers. "We shouldn't tolerate this minimalization of gross worker 
abuse. For those of us active in Jobs With Justice, the Dunlop report 
means we have to step up our community-labor campaign against 
employer interference in workplace organizing." 

Cohen said Jobs With Justice, the national network of labor, church, 
civil rights, student, and environmental groups, will be launching more 
unofficial workers' rights boards to monitor and expose management 
union-busting.  Local Jobs With Justice coalitions in Vermont and Ohio 
have already organized such boards. They are composed of community 
leaders and sympathetic political figures who stand ready to investigate 
the firing or mistreatment of workers engaged in union organizing. 

NO DEAL

Jobs With Justice national strategists hope that industrial unions 
affiliated with the group will also work together under its banner to 
maintain pressure on the Dunlop Commission and oppose any deal in 
which reform of the NLRA to make organizing easier is tied to a 
change in 8(a)(2) that would allow company unionism to flourish even 
more widely than it does today.   Along with Teamster General Counsel 
Judith Scott, Cohen testified before the Commission several months 
ago and strongly defended the protection that 8(a)(2) currently provides 
to workers within companies that set up employee committees as part 
of their union avoidance strategy.  Cohen cited AT&T's use of 
management-dominated satisfaction councils at the company's NCR 
subsidiary, which has repeatedly thwarted CWA organizing efforts.  

In the same week that the Dunlop Commission's interim findings tried to 
lay the groundwork for undermining 8(a)(2), the NLRB upheld the 
Communications Workers' legal challenge to NCR's satisfaction 
councils and ordered them disbanded. Without this important legal tool 
to insure that workers get to create their own organizations, like our 
supporters have done at NCR, management would be free to thwart 
organizing through phony representation schemes, Cohen said.

					-----

[Steve Early is a CWA International Representative active in Jobs With 
Justice.]