In todays Globe, Joanna Weiss has in interesting editorial about public perception of unions. See here:
She qoutes a recent Pew survey that shows that a majority of the public does not support unions. This survey result should not be surprising given the last three months of saturation from the main stream media about public sector unions being the cause of the state fiscal crisis. Though, this poll conflicts with other polls that show that a majority of workers would like a union in their own work sites, and recent polls that show that over 60% respondents oppose taking away collective bargaining rights from public workers as Gov. Walker is proposing in Wisconsin.
However, the more interesting part of her column takes on the issue of why don’t unions organize more workers. She ends her column: “If you can’t win them over, sign them up.” In order to be represented by a union, workers must under go a laborious and lengthly election process that barely qualifies as democratic.
In a nut shell, after a group of workers petitions that the NLRB for an election, the employer gets about 6 weeks of time to dominate and harass workers against organizing. Workers are called in to closed door meetings with their supersvisor or the company ceo, or with special anti union consultants who tell them the worst could happen to them if the union is voted in.
The union is not allowed to attend these meetings and is not given access to any
But the worst happens on the day of the election. Imagine if during the last presidential election all the voting locations were stationed in John McCain campaign offices; and Obama supporters had to confront McCain operatives who were massing out in front of the voting location and hired guards were filming everyone who came in to vote.
This is what happens during a union election. The voting location is most often the headquarters of the company. Managers patrol the voting area. Scarey looking security companies are hired to “militarize” the voting process. Is there any wonder that most unions try to avoid this “democratic” process.
Most polls show that a majority of workers want a union in their own work site. Yet only 8% of private sector workers are in a union. The broken process for forming a union is at fault. If it were as simple as “signing up” workers, then we would have much different balance of power in this county.