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September 20, 2004

Why the NLRB Is Pretty Worthless

Why do organizing unions try to avoid the NLRB route? Exhibit J comes from a recent NLRB ruling.

On July 19, 2004, the NLRB found this Los Angeles nursing home [Mid-Wilshire Health Care Center] guilty of coercing, threatening and, in effect, bribing its employees into signing a decertification petition to do away with their union. The violations started when the workers' union representative, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), attempted to renegotiate their contract with Mid-Wilshire in 2001. According to the NLRB decision, workers were met with fierce resistance and a host of illegal anti-union tactics, including: withholding wage increases, suspending and firing pro-union workers, and pressuring employees into signing a decertification petition.

In order to obtain enough support to trigger a decertification election, Mid-Wilshire exploited the fears of its employees. In the NLRB's findings, the company threatened to report workers to the INS if they did not sign the decertification petition. According to testimony, a supervisor urged two employees to sign the decertification petition, because "they didn't have immigration papers, she had helped their friends, and they needed to help her."

In another instance of Mid-Wilshire's pressure tactics, Maria Guadalupe Garcia was advised by a supervisor about the decertification petition and told to "Sign 'no' to the Union. Garcia and the supervisor then entered an elevator with Martin Perez, an employee who was circulating the petition. The supervisor stopped the elevator mid-floor and demanded Perez to "give her the paper [because] Maria is going to sign 'no' to the Union." Held captive in the elevator, Garcia was intimidated into signing the petition.

The NLRB decided this behavior was just a wee bit out of bounds, so they decided to intervene. They prevented the decertification. And they enacted a terrible punishment:

Mid-Wilshire was only ordered to post a notice saying they will not coerce employees into signing a decertification petition.
How long did it take them to rule? Three years. Three long years. Eliot Ness ain't got nothin' on these Bad Boys.

This is also a good example of why the recent NLRB moves to abolish card check are so potentially devastating. Organizing unions try to use card check instead of standard NLRB elections because the NLRB is about as effective at ensuring fair elections as poll watchers were during El Salvador's death squad days. Without card check, almost all the cards are in the hands of the backstabbing, Law-breaking employers.

For more information, check out a terrific, relatively new organization, American Rights at Work.

Posted by RT at September 20, 2004 07:29 AM