Thursday, May 7, 2015
Labor Unions Trump Luddites
Mere civil penalties -- if you can call reinstatement a penalty -- carry zero deterrent against union busting. Firing employees who attempt to organize a collective bargaining unit can be overwhelmingly profitable (unlike practicing forms of discrimination). Firing a few organizers packs the same tactical punch as locking out the entire workforce but with zero economic inconvenience to the boss. An employer may even feel compelled to bust a union because the firm down the road does so and he wont be able to compete equally.
Labor unions have no chance to ever resume their role as the natural counterweight to employer interests unless union blocking/busting will be met with serious jail time.
Disappearing organizers deprives them of more than a job: it strips them of -- both -- the economic and political sinews they need to interact effectively against competing interests. Employees may be able to find another job but they cannot find another fair and balanced society (unless they emigrate to Denmark).
* * * * * * * * * *
Once a state legislature makes union busting a felony, federal and state RICO prosecution will kick in (there are 33 state RICO laws).
A business (which is not the defendant and which can be perfectly legit) fits the case law definition of an ongoing enterprise -- if it has:
(a) a purpose,
(b) a life outside the crime (a bank robbery gang is not an enterprise),
(c) longevity -- which is taken as over a year or substantially over. Longevity however may be considered built in: for example, if a demand is made for $1,000 a month. I imagine union busting action could be taken as having a common sense expectation of longevity -- if not, wait a year, then factor in the common sense expectation and start your prosecution.
* * * * * * * * * *
The Industrial Revolution replaced fairly paid individual cloth weavers with steam loom operators whose incomes were squeezed below subsistence by the “Iron Law of (unorganized) Labor.” Over the same period, anyone in England who publicly advocated universal suffrage for all males was on his way to jail and then to Australia.
The Making of the English Working Class (1966) -- E. P. Thompson
How much happier employees would have been to successfully support legislation protecting collective bargaining -- than to burn down looms. Labor unions trump Luddites. :-)
PS. At first I couldn't believe reading that four years ago, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed card check legislation for farm workers (of all most desperately in need). Then, further informed that California has the strongest labor law in the country -- 10% cards signed, the union gets the names and addresses of all employees; 50% gets an election within 7 days, no delays. Also been suggested Brown traded this off for support for his deficit fighting bill -- possibly figuring he wasn't giving away much even if the other side thought he was. ??? Important revelation for many here is that states may and do pass their own, even stronger than federal, labor legislation.
[LATE NOTE: Just came up with this gem -- in Wisconsin it is a crime to force collection of dues for a union:
"Right to work comes with a Class A misdemeanor. Requiring dues payments could mean nine months in jail and/or a $10,000 fine for each violation."
[So when are we going pass state (and eventually federal) rules criminalizing employers thwarting employees exercise of their right to follow the federally prescribed formula to organize a collective bargaining unit by firing them?]