The dues came out of my paycheck. Every two weeks, the union took its few dollars for which it promised to fight, fight, fight for my rights as a worker.
I was never too confident in that claim and after witnessing multiple rounds of staff layoffs, pay cuts and two trips by the corporate counsel to bankruptcy court, it was pretty clear the union was powerless to protect much. Worse, it would huff and puff and threaten to blow things down but, really, it was all just theatrics.
That was 20 or so years ago, and I was glad to get out of the union at my next job. Today’s unions enjoy little support, representing just 11.3 percent of the workforce compared to more than 20 percent a few decades ago. The National Labor Relations Board, however, is now apparently on some kind of misguided campaign to resuscitate organized labor.
In the clearest sign of this, it recently re-issued proposed amendments to its rules that would speed up the union election process to as little as three weeks.
The last time the NLRB tried to alter the rules governing union elections, the change was invalidated by a federal court that decided the board did not have the authority because it didn't have enough members to form a quorum.
The quorum question has since been resolved. What hasn’t changed since the last time round is the plain fact that, while cutting the time between when a petition to unionize is filed and when an actual vote is held might help union forces, it is certainly unfair to employers.
A compressed timeline would leave employers with virtually no opportunity to present their views to employees.
This is the sort of rule that gives credence to charges that the NLRB has tilted toward unions under President Obama, especially since he’s been able to make several appointments of Democrats to the board.
It’s hard to tell exactly what the NLRB is trying to fix. The median time for a union election to be held is just 38 days, and unions win 65 percent of their organizing elections.
To be sure, union elections shouldn’t take years to hold, as some now occasionally do. On the other hand, unions shouldn’t be allowed to try to organize employees without notifying employers of their efforts, then spring an election on them.
The NLRB has scheduled a hearing in April on its proposed rule change. Let’s hope it hears employers’ concerns and makes the right changes to the rules.
I have no idea, by the way, what that union did with my dues.