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Labor Related Essay, Research Paper

Essay Question: Identify and explain the major issues relative to the unionization process and what organizations do to make it difficult to implement the process relative to unfair practices. Cite sources and examples.


I intend to explain in great detail the major issues relative to the unionization process, the act, which governs, and the independent agency, which polices it. I will also show what organizations do to make it difficult to implement the process relative to unfair practices.


The NLRA (National Labor Relations Act) was enacted by Congress in 1935.

It has the power to regulate interstate commerce and to govern the employer/employee bargaining and union relationship on a national level. The NLRA was amended by the Labor Management Relations (Taft-Hartley) Act in 1947 and the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure (Landrum-Griffen) Act in 1959. Most employers and employees involved in businesses that affect interstate commerce in any way are regulated by the act. The NLRA gives employees the right to determine for themselves whether they wish to be represented by a union. If the majority of the employees in an appropriate bargaining unit indicate that they support a union a certification of representative is issued. This petition, which is normally filed by a

union, seeks an election to determine whether employees wish to be represented

by a union. It must be supported by the signatures of 30 percent or more of the

employees in the bargaining unit being sought. These signatures may be on paper.

Generally, this designation or ‘’showing of interest” contains a statement that the employees want to be represented for collective bargaining purposes by a specific labor organization. The showing of interest must be signed by each employee and each employee’s signature must be dated. These elections are conducted under laboratory conditions to ensure that the election represents the free choice of the employees. Violation of the laboratory conditions, or of the 24-hour silent period rules may result in the NLRB invalidating the election results. The twenty-four-hour silent period is intended to give the employees time to reflect upon their choice free from electioneering pressures.

The NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) is an independent federal agency established to enforce the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). As an independent agency, they are not part of any other government agency such as the Department of Labor. Congress has empowered the NLRB to conduct secret-ballot elections so employees may exercise a free choice whether a union should represent them for bargaining purposes. A secret-ballot election will be conducted only when a petition requesting an election is filed. Although representation elections conducted by the NLRB are the most common means through which unions acquire representation rights, an employer may also voluntarily recognize a union as bargaining representative for a group of employees when the union demonstrates majority support. This can happen provided that the employer has no reasonable doubt of the employees’ preference and that recognition is not granted for the purpose of assisting one particular union at the expense of another seeking to represent the same employees.

A bargaining unit is 4a group of two or more employees who share a ”community of interest” and may reasonably be grouped together for collective bargaining purposes. The NLRB is responsible for ensuring that any election in a representation case is conducted in an appropriate unit. A unit is usually described by the type of work done or jobs classification of employees for example, production and maintenance employees or truckdrivers. In some cases, the number of facilities to be included in a bargaining unit is at issue, and the number of locations to be involved may describe a unit. For example, in the retail industry, the NLRB may need to determine whether employees at a single

store or whether a bargaining unit consisting of several stores is appropriate. Generally, the appropriateness of a bargaining unit is determined on the basis of the community of interest of the employees involved. Union or employees may file a petition for a decertification election. This petition, which can be filed by anyone seeking an election to determine whether the authority of a union to act as a bargaining representative of employees should continue. The signatures of 30 percent or more of the employees in the bargaining unit represented must support it. These signatures may be on separate cards or on a single piece of paper. Generally, this showing of interest contains a statement that the employees do not wish to be represented for collective-bargaining purposes by the existing labor organization. Each employee must sign the showing of interest and each employee’s signature must be dated. When a petition is filed, the NLRB will determine whether the contract bar rule precludes holding an election. If it doesn’t the NLRB must then determine an appropriate bargaining unit. The contract bar rule is a written labor contract, which bars an election during the life of the bargaining agreement.

Unions may also acquire representation rights through unfair labor practice proceedings. The NLRB may issue a bargaining order when the effect of unfair labor practices by employers prevents a fair election from being held.

The unionization process is not always welcome by employers and sometimes-illegal activity will go on to make it difficult to implement the process. Section 8 of the NLRA outlines specific behavior, which is unacceptable for employers. Section 8 states: It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer-(1) to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in section 7 [section 157 of this title];

(2) to dominate or interfere with the formation or administration of any labor organization or contribute financial or other support to it: Provided, That subject to rules and regulations made and published by the Board pursuant to section 6 [section 156 of this title], an employer shall not be prohibited from permitting employees to confer with him during working hours without loss of time or pay; (3) by discrimination in regard to hire or tenure of employment or any term or condition of employment to encourage or discourage member-ship in any labor organization: Provided, That nothing in this Act [sub-chapter]or in any other statute of the United States, shall preclude an employer from making an agreement with a labor organization (not established, maintained, or assisted by any action defined in section 8(a)of this Act [in this subsection] as an unfair labor practice) to require as a condition of employment membership therein on or after the thirtieth day following the beginning of such employment or the effective date of such agreement, whichever is the later, if such labor organization is the representative of the employees as provided in section 9(a) [section159(a) of this title], in the appropriate collective-bargaining unit covered held as provided in section 9(e) [section 159(e) of this title] within one year preceding the effective date of such agreement, the Board shall have certified that at least a majority of the employees eligible to vote in such election have voted to rescind the authority of such labor organization to make such an agreement: Provided further, That no employer shall justify any discrimination against an employee for non-membership in a labor organization (A) if he has reasonable grounds for believing that such membership was not available to the employee on the same terms and conditions generally applicable to other members, or (B) if he has reasonable grounds for believing that membership was denied or terminated for reasons other than the failure of the employee to tender the periodic dues and the initiation fees uniformly required as a condition of acquiring or retaining membership;(4) to discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee because he has filed charges or given testimony under this Act [subchapter];(5) to refuse to bargain collectively with the representatives of his employees, subject to the provisions of section 9(a) [section 159(a) of this title].

Cornell and Harvard Universities did research on employer coercion, harassment and firings, due to union campaigns, these findings were:

One in four employers fires workers who are active in union campaigns-in all, it’s estimated that at least 10,000 workers are fired each year for exercising the freedom to join a union.

Ninety-one percent of employers, when faced with employees who want to join together in a union force employees to attend closed-door meetings to hear anti-union propaganda. 80 percent require immediate supervisors to attend training sessions on how to attack unions; and 79 percent have supervisors deliver anti-union messages to workers they oversee. Eighty percent hire outside consultants to run anti-union campaigns, often based on mass psychology and distorting the law. Half of employers threaten to shut down if employees join together in a union. Martin Jay Levitt, who had been among the fiercest hired guns brought in to fight organizing campaigns, said there were more than 7,000 attorneys and consultants who made their living busting unions. All told, the union busting industry had grown more than a billion dollars a year. Levitt, who planned and ran more than 250 union-busting campaigns across the country before renouncing the profession, described in detail the manipulation, dirty-tricks, abuse of the law and disregard for lives that are all part of a corporate campaign against a union drive.

“Some corporate executives I encountered liked to think of their anti-union consultants as generals. But really the consultants are terrorists. Like political terrorists, the consultants’ attacks are intensely personal,” he wrote. “Terrorists do not make factories and air strips their victims; they choose instead crippled old men and school children. Likewise, as the consultants go about the business of destroying unions, they invade people’s lives, demolish their friendships, crush their will and shatter their families.”

Levitt’s standard operating procedures not only included investigating police records, personnel files, medical records and the family lives of union proponents to find a way to discredit them, but in the absence of any good ammunition he would simply concoct something to do the job. “To fell the sturdiest union supporters in the 1970s, I frequently launched rumors that the target worker was gay or was cheating on his wife,” he wrote. “It was a very effective technique, particularly in blue-collar towns.”

Here is a first hand account of what can happen when employers have a lot of

power and money and want people to be influenced to there way of thinking.

Sharon Fisher’s voice quivers when she talks about it. Ed Platt gets angry still. Ron Heller was shocked when the police looked the other way. Debbie Shallenburger says it’s un-American, what happened to the hard-working citizens of her community.

It’s been a year since UAW members recessed their 17-month strike at Caterpillar plants in three states. But in and around East Peoria, Illinois, home of Caterpillar’s corporate offices, Local 974 members and spouses still talk about the gang of thugs who brought terror to their quiet communities. They would cruise up and down the streets of Peoria, East Peoria, and suburbs like Washington, Pekin, and Metamora, often parking in front of the homes of UAW members. They would videotape family members in front of their own homes, at restaurants and stores, while they were driving.

They learned the names of children, and called to them by their first names. They even left a flashlight inside the locked car of one worker’s daughter, just to show that they had been there. It was all part of a huge intimidation campaign, and it got even rougher on the picket line where gang members assaulted women, provoked men to fight back, and used videotape to get workers fired. When they went to the local police for help, they were treated like criminals. Later they learned that the state police were against them, too. Who are these goons who roamed the streets of working class neighborhoods, protected by the law while terrorizing decent, law-abiding people? They’re employees of Vance International–the same gang of thugs hired to clamp down on coal miners in West Virginia, schoolteachers in Cleveland, aerospace workers in St. Louis, and, today, newspaper workers in Detroit. When spying and provocation aren’t enough, Vance’s APT goons resort to violence like the assault that has left Detroit newspaper striker Vito Sciuto permanently scarred and still suffering violent seizures more than a year after brain surgery. Sciuto, a mailer, was smashed in the skull with a heavy piece of wood when 20 APT thugs formed a tight V-shaped wedge and marched out of a distribution center gate into a circle of peaceful pickets. The goal that night, a Vance employee told a reporter, was “to hurt people.” Detroit police watched the Vance riot, but no arrests were made.


I feel once again that I have thoroughly covered the questions given. I put quite a bit of time into researching each part of the question. I was appalled at a lot of the information that I read, especially at Caterpillar and in Detroit. The examples I chose were the best out of many, which I had found. I really got into this essay and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. (Seriously)


Patrick J. Cihon, James Ottavio Castagnera, Employment and Labor Law, Third Edition(West Educational Publishing Company, 1999) Chapters 14 and 15.

Chromer, Robert. “Union Busters.” Industrial Worker Magazine Feb. 1996, Industrial Worker Magazine Online. Online.

Levine, Daniel, ” A Lust to Bust.” Disgruntled Magazine 7 Sept. 1997,” Disgruntled Magazine Online. Online, (Counterpoint Publishing Inc. 1997)

Kate Bronfrenbrenner, Cornell University and Paul Weiler, Harvard University; “Commission on the Future or Worker Management Relations.” AFL-CIO Homepage Online. Online. 1999

IBEW Local 58 Homepage, ” National Labor Relations Board.” Online, 1999

Hunter, Robert, ” Can the big labor movement survive.” July 1997 Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Michigan Forward, Online, 1997

Wade, Russell, ” Stalog Caterpillar “96″.” Solidarity Magazine July 1996, Solidarity Magazine Online, Online, 1999

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