Didja ever wonder how Bosses work to thwart organizing? Via Alternet, this day, here's a story of one reporter's journey from hopeful organization, to cynical retaliation, and ending with the usual hopelessness in the face of deep pockets, dishonesty and managerial intransigence: Sara Steffens tried to organize a small node of a coprpoRat giant (the Contra Costa Times (at which, a long time ago I also labored as a reporter), lost her job, and was (predicatbly) defeated by corpoRat power and influence. The take-away lesson? USer Labor Law is fucked..well, the piece says "Broken":
Steffens' employment experience "shows both the best of EFCA and its limitations." Take the card check option. It offers employees the option to check a card to show their support to unionize versus the NLRB secret-ballot election process. If a majority elects to sign cards, talks between the union and the company begin. That change to card check would help workers by "allowing the union to avoid the worst of the employer opposition," said Bronfenbrenner. Further, "the stiffer penalties for all employer violations could have a restraining effect on the opposition" to unionizing.Hello, understatement. USer labor law rewards Bosses for exercising all the power and might in their CorpoRat quivver, up to and including firing, but it (and really ALL USer laws) punish as criminal the only actions at the workers' disposal to combat the CorpoRat advantages.
However, big companies such as MediaNews, which owns daily papers, radio and TV stations across America, have deep pockets. Thus, "the EFCA penalties probably are not large enough to be any disincentive at all and they (companies) may play hard ball through the entire election and first contract campaign taking every penalty they get, still doing the lay off, and forcing an imposed first contract," according to Bronfenbrenner.
Against this backdrop, Steffens and her fellow laid off journalists have had another reality check. Consider this. Their Guild filed three NLRB unfair labor practice charges at the regional and national levels against MediaNews for the post-election layoffs of July 2008. The Guild lost each time and lost a request for reconsideration, Steffens said. According to her, the NLRB rulings show that, short of written evidence from MediaNews of her and co-workers' layoffs being due to union activity, the Guild has no case.
"When I started losing the NLRB cases, I realized that the system of labor law is broken," Steffens said. "It doesn't work. The law says that you have the right to organize a union and can't be fired for it. The law prohibits employers from threatening or intimidating employees during an organizing campaign. But all of those things are routine. The recourse you have through the NLRB isn't very efficient and it doesn't really work for most people."