Doing Big Labor's Dirty Work; Front Groups Skirt the Law to Prop Up Failing Unions

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 4, 2013 | Go to article overview

Doing Big Labor's Dirty Work; Front Groups Skirt the Law to Prop Up Failing Unions


Byline: Richard Berman, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

On Wednesday, several dozen unionized workers assembled at the World War II Memorial in an effort to share the stage with many of our nation's veterans. Notwithstanding the vanity of their brazen act, the protesters - who belong to an organization called Good Jobs Nation - used the opportunity to demand that House Republicans give in to the president's demands and reopen the federal government.

While the demonstration had many of the hallmarks of a protest coordinated by a labor union, Good Jobs Nation is merely the latest entrant into the burgeoning movement of so-called worker centers. These groups, which have stolen national headlines in recent months with nationwide protests at fast-food and retail outlets, are the brainchild of labor leaders who have seen their membership and relevance precipitously decline in recent years.

Labor leaders have turned to worker centers precisely because they can target non-unionized industries in unique ways. Whereas traditional union organizational pickets are restricted to 30 days, at which point they either have to file a petition for unionization or pack up and leave, worker centers can picket indefinitely - so long as they don't actually try to bargain with the targeted employer on behalf of employees.

The National Labor Relations Act specifically prohibits this kind of activity. It unnecessarily creates employer-employee friction in industries where there is nowhere near the 30 percent threshold at which point employees may request unionization. Absent such a restriction, unions are able to bring any business to its knees - with or without employee support.

Worker centers circumvent this prohibition by registering as charities or nonprofits. When they target an employer, they only use a select few disgruntled employees, who then claim to speak on behalf of their co-workers. Then they artificially boost the size of their always-tiny employee contingent by hiring more protesters and bringing in friendly community groups and non-employee union organizers. …

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