Milwaukee, Wis. (January 23, 2003) – In an unprecedented employee challenge to an emerging unionization tactic, attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation today filed federal charges against Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) and the United Auto Workers union for jointly coercing employees to sign union authorization cards as part of a so-called “neutrality” agreement.
Robert Walach, a non-union member, sought free legal aid from Foundation attorneys to file the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which will investigate the charges and decide whether to prosecute the defendants for unfair labor practices.
Last summer, bowing to pressure brought by UAW union operatives, JCI signed a so-called “neutrality agreement.” Under the agreement union organizers are given full access to non-union employees’ personal information and company facilities. Also, non-union employees are forced to attend “captive audience” speeches in which they are told that, if they do not support the union’s organizing effort, they could risk losing potential job opportunities. (A copy of the text of JCI’s “captive audience” speech is available bly clicking here.)
“This agreement is nothing more than a license for union bosses and weak-kneed employers to threaten and intimidate workers into accepting compulsory unionism,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
As part of the agreement, workers are denied the ability to reject unionization through a secret ballot election, and union operatives are allowed to sign up workers under a “card check” authorization scheme. Once UAW officials sign up a majority of the workers, then JCI declares the union as the exclusive representative of all the workers, even those who did not sign a card. Under the “card check” unionization process, workers are often misled, harassed, or threatened into signing union authorization cards.
In recent years, as union organizers have had less success in persuading employees to vote for unionization during secret ballot elections, unions have focused on organizing employers. Bolstered by a series of Clinton NLRB rulings, union operatives increasingly use “neutrality agreements” and other “top-down” organizing techniques to force employers to recognize unions without a vote by the workers.
“Big Labor is afraid to let workers choose for themselves in a fair secret ballot election; they know that without the fear of union coercion, the workers will reject unionization,” stated Gleason.