‘Restoring’ Unions ‘Right’ to Bargain Collectively

Not long ago union advocate Stewart Acuff penned a piece for the Huffington website that was filled with soaring rhetoric about unions “creating the middle class” and pleading for voters to pressure Congress to pass the absurdly named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). He claimed that this piece of… legislation would “restore the right to form unions and bargain collectively.”

Despite Acuff’s urgent pleading, however, he misses an elephant in the room. No one has taken anyone’s “right to collectively bargain” away from them. Of course that wasn’t the only thing that Acuff was factually incorrect about.

Why is it that union folks have to lie about everything, anyway?

Acuff starts out with a whopper.

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America’s broad, deep Middle Class, indeed, the American Dream was formed in the 20-25 years after the passage of the Wagner Act in 1935 which codified the right of workers in America to freely form unions and bargain collectively.

Unions created the middle class? Unions got some mythical right by the Wagner Act? I’ll let friend to the blog David Denholm answer to this one…

Mr. Acuff must be from some alternative universe. The 1935 Wagner Act – the first National Labor Relations Act – didn’t give workers the right to form unions or to bargain collectively. Those rights existed all along. What it did was to compel employers to bargain with unions and give unions the right to impose representation on workers who didn’t want it.

Denholm notes that the middle class existed before unions ever did. In that he’s 100% correct. After all, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about the extensive and prosperous middle class in America in the 1830s. That was a year or two before the 1935 Wagner Act passed, wouldn’t you say?

Additionally, if unions were so necessary to support an extensive middle class how come we have one of the biggest populations of middle class folks in the world yet unions are down to about 20 some percent of the total U.S. workforce?

Acuff whines that the middle class is disappearing because unions have somehow lost a right they didn’t really lose. Denholm again helps us with that claim. After giving us a link to some economic stats, Denholm writes…

This information is expressed in both current and constant dollars. There’s good news for those who fear a shrinking middle class. In constant 2007 dollars, average household income is up in every quintile. The growth isn’t steady and it isn’t uniform from quintile to quintile, but it is up across the board.

But Acuff doesn’t spare with more whoppers. He claims that the EFCA will fix everything (or is it fix what ain’t broken?).

Most importantly, we are very close to getting the support necessary to pass the Employee Free Choice Act which would simplify and streamline organizing, effectively punish employers who violate workers rights with $20,000 civil fines and triple damage back pay for firing workers, and force the Financial Elite to bargain in good faith with unions by allowing unions to seek arbitration for recalcitrant employers.

Not true at all. What the EFCA would do, however, is take away the right of every prospective union member to have a secret ballot when he casts his vote for or against unionizing, it would open that employee up for union thugs to visit his home to “encourage” him to vote yes, and it would cause government to involve itself to force a contract on union and employer alike. It would also further damage our business community by making it even less competitive than it currently is today.

Sadly, just about every scare word in Acuff’s piece is a lie. No one’s right to organize has been taken away. But unions have been slowly disappearing from the work force, it is true. Of course, it isn’t because of forces outside of unions that are destroying them. It is the over reach, sloth, bad business sense, and mistreatment of their own membership that is causing the downfall of unions, not the lack of passage of the EFCA.

Unions have served their purpose. It’s time to let them fade into history.

(Originally posted at TheUnionLabelBlog.com)

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