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The Unionizing Thing

Steve Kaplan / December 13, 2014

Business Savvy, Union NewsWhy Union / no comments

As somebody who lives inside organized labor, this is heartening:

Federal officials unveiled new rules on Friday that will streamline and simplify the union election process, a reform long sought by labor unions and fiercely opposed by businesses.

Among other changes, the rules issued by the National Labor Relations Board will limit some of the litigation that can precede a union election, making it harder for parties to stall or drag out the process. The reforms will also allow unions to file election petitions and other documents via email, and they will require employers to provide unions with the email addresses and phone numbers of workers eligible to vote.

Many employers favor the older, slower election process, as it gives them more time to dissuade workers from unionizing. The reforms announced Friday have long been discussed and debated, and businesses have argued that they would infringe on the businesses’ free speech rights and lead to “ambush” or “quickie” elections. …

Employers favor the “slower election process” because it’s a way of running out the clock … and doing a little one-on-one with employees. (An employer can’t say: “You vote to go union and we’re closing the company!” But an employer can say: “Gee Bill, we know how you and the others feel about going union, but honest to Gosh, we just don’t know what we’re gonna do if good old Slave-Grind, Inc. has to go under a union contract.”)

You may have noticed that in our charming corporatist state, the land of Socialism for Mega Banks and the rich, Free Enterprise for the poor, that unionized work-places comprise a much smaller percentage of corporate America. This trend has been going on since I graduated from college, and we now have about 14% of the work-force under the wing of guilds and unions, about the same ratio we had a century ago.

Entertainment unions are outliers here in Freedom’s Land. They still represent a large part of motion picture and television workers, even as other areas of employment slip away. The Animation Guild has had some momentum on its side these past few years, as we’ve organized a number of non-union cartoon studios in Los Angeles.

The new rules will help TAG and other labor unions secure better wages and benefits for people they strive to represent, which is a good thing.

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