UPMC employees, beware of card check
The ongoing effort to unionize the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has taken a turn to the theatrical after the SEIU announced that two union supporters would hold a seven-day hunger strike. This publicity stunt is designed to grab headlines, but such stories will likely obscure the real motive behind the SEIU's campaign.
SEIU organizers' ultimate goal is to push UPMC employees into union ranks and force them to pay dues just to get or keep a job at the hospital. Pennsylvania lacks a Right to Work law, which means that if UPMC is unionized, the SEIU could have hospital employees fired for refusing to pay union dues.
To get a forced dues clause, the SEIU must first become the exclusive bargaining agent for UPMC workers. Under federal labor law, this can happen in one of two ways.
The traditional method is a secret-ballot vote. A union simply has to collect petitions in favor of unionization from 30 percent of employees in a bargaining unit. Union organizers then submit the petitions to the National Labor Relations Board, which schedules and supervises a unionization election.
Under a secret-ballot election, union officials have a chance to make their case, as does the employer. Moreover, workers can make their choice in the privacy of the ballot booth, without any union official, organizer or company official knowing their choice.
Unfortunately for UPMC employees, it's increasingly clear that SEIU organizers' endgame is forced unionization through the unreliable and often coercive card check method. Under card check, union organizers are able to pressure workers face to face until they sign authorization cards. These cards are then counted as “votes” for unionization. Workers report that union organizers often resort to bribes, threats and misleading promises to get the cards signed.
But there is a catch. To win recognition through a card check campaign, union organizers must first persuade an employer to accept the cards they've collected as votes and waive its right to hold a secret-ballot election.
This is where the SEIU's theatrics come in. The SEIU and its allies have repeatedly attacked UPMC in an apparent effort to force management to agree to a card check unionization drive. Protests that block traffic, hunger strikes and public attacks on UPMC's tax status are just the most visible examples of the SEIU's card check campaign.
Such campaigns often include frivolous legal charges, attacks on the quality of services provided by nonunionized workers and denouncements by union political and community allies. The SEIU's strategy is to attack UPMC until management relents and agrees to forgo a secret ballot election in favor of card check.
The National Right to Work Foundation, which provides free legal assistance to employees across the country, is broadcasting television commercials to warn UPMC workers about the dangers of card check. UPMC employees should be able to vote their conscience without fear of retaliation, coercion or harassment from union organizers. That's why they should stand up to the SEIU's underhanded efforts to organize their facility via card check.
If union officials can't win through a secret-ballot vote, they don't deserve to win at all.
Mark Mix is president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New Steeler Boykin clarifies remarks about former coach
- Zimbabwe alleges Murrysville doctor illegally killed lion
- Bucs’ starter Burnett says ‘surgery is not an option’
- After early criticism, Haley has Steelers offense poised to be even better
- Former Lincoln Park star Rowan chooses N.C. State
- EPA diktats: Pushing back
- Steelers swap draft pick for Eagles cornerback
- Rossi: Looking at the next great Steeler
- Ability to clog the trenches crucial to Steelers defense
- Penguins not alone in top-heavy approach to salary cap
- Starting 9: Examining Pirates’ deadline decisions