Unions Destroy Democracy | Dr. Steven J. Allen


How many of the people in labor unions ever
actually voted to join a labor union? You’d be surprised. This issue was raised recently by a fellow
named Terry Bowman. Bowman has worked as an hourly employee for
Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan for 20 years. Working for Ford is a tradition in his family. Bowman’s father also worked for Ford. So did a brother, and several of his aunts
and uncles. At Ford, the Bowmans shared something beyond
family ties. They were all represented by the United Auto
Workers. One day last summer, Bowman congratulated
an employee at the plant who was retiring after 50 years on the job. Something amazing occurred to him, that the
50-year employee had been a member of the UAW for half a century, yet never—not once—voted
to join the UAW or to have the UAW represent employees at the plant. That decision had been made by other workers
a generation before he started working at Ford. Decades later, their choice still bound him
and all Ford’s current employees. The UAW organized Ford Motor Company in 1941. The automakers’ current employees were all
hired well after 1941. They never voted for UAW representation themselves. But what’s called the “presumption of
majority support” means that the UAW never had to win their support in a new election. Most U.S. union members inherited representation
this way. For over two generations the Bowmans and all
of their co-workers received union “representation” they never asked for. They are not alone. The vast majority of unionized workers, some 94%, never voted for their union. Unions legally represent workers in workplace
negotiations. In theory, this representation is legitimized
through a democratic process in which workers vote in favor of union representation. In practice, only six percent of those covered
by unions under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) have ever voted for union representation. Two-thirds of workers think union representatives
are representing themselves rather than the workers, and 70 percent of union members disapprove
of their union. How did we get to this situation? Four aspects of the union election procedures
cause this problem: One: Unions can bypass workplace elections
entirely by pressuring employers to forgo a secret ballot. The National Labor Relations Act allows employers
to request a secret ballot election before it requires them to recognize and bargain
with a union, but Unions will wage public relations campaigns against corporations until
the company agrees to forgo a secret ballot vote. Two: When employees do vote, unions need not
obtain the support from a majority of employees in the workplace. It is sufficient to get a majority of workers
voting in the election. For example, in August of 2015, workers at
the LINQ Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas voted on whether to join the UAW. The UAW got 74 votes, 42 workers voted against
it, and 131 did not vote. The UAW won the election despite the fact
that fewer than one-third of all employees voted for representation by the UAW. Three: Once formed, unions do not stand for
re-election. They remain certified indefinitely unless
removed in a decertification election. This stands in stark contrast to political
representation. Political representatives in America serve
for a fixed term of office. Their election gives them a mandate to represent
their constituents, but that mandate lasts only a fixed period of time. Union representation does not operate on this
principle. Four: The National Labor Relations Board makes
it difficult to call for decertification elections. Unions likewise work to prevent decertification. Most unions expel members who support
decertification, and the NLRB regulations create a system in which workers typically have just one month
every three years to petition for a new election. This system makes unions less accountable
to their members. Workers who want a different union representative—or
no union—face considerable difficulty in implementing these preferences. Unions know this, so they feel less pressure
to represent their members well. Some unscrupulous unions take advantage of
this situation to pursue their institutional interests at the expense of their members. Currently, union representation in the United
States is uncomfortably close to that envisioned by dictators who come to power initially by
election: “One man, one vote, once.” Or, as Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
reputedly said, democracy is like a bus; “Once you reach your destination, you get off.” We don’t elect presidents for life. We shouldn’t elect unions for life, or for
the lives of people who aren’t even born. It’s time for America’s workers to benefit
from the same democratic process that made our nation great.

Maurice Vega

15 Responses

  1. I have been forced to join two unions to date and all they did was make sure that the laziest employees got raises they didn't deserve, when negotiating time came they made sure each department was trying to secure gains at the expense of other departments, they protected very bad employees, allowed good employees to get fired, and generally made everything worse. I hate working in unionized work places.

  2. Hmmmm how can we get people to vote against their own self interests? That could never work… look for the video of the poor Appalachian people that voted to take aware their recently given health care for black lung disease. Companies now can spend whatever they want to to advance their interests. Our democracy is being destroyed.

  3. I am a member of the UAW and I DO NOT HAVE TO BE TO WORK FOR THE COMPANY. you can choose to be union or not. We vote for the people who represent us every 4 years. This video is crap in its entirety.

  4. what a crock. This is probably paid for by the Russians. Unbelievable that Americans can really be this stupid.

  5. What the fuck is this guy talking about, if you don't wanna be a union member don't go to work for a union company.Are you telling me that that moron he's talking about had no clue that he was going to work for a union company.This is bullshit aimed at the lowest common denominator, the brain dead idiots who voted for the p.o.s.we now have in the oval office.I am one hundred percent pro union and goddamn proud of it.

  6. You're an egg headed moron. You make the decision to join the union the day you take the job. Don't want to be in the union? Go work someplace else and then fuck off and die!

  7. Okay. I checked out your article and you read like 95% of it word-for-word in the video. Your research includes reading the preamble to the NLRA and vague survey results from a union with no context of how what the situation was that garnered them. And you left the anecdotal case story of a bad Union doing bad things out of the video. And this is your evidence that leads you to believe All Unions are bad?

    You know I never voted for my state to be part of the United States. But it is and was before I was born. Could I be able to vote to leave the union of the United States? If Unions are corporations and corporations are people and can be voted for, how many people would vote to leave Donald Trump's United States? I mean come on guys?

    What kind of crazy people are you trying to inspire to work toward removing Unions from their workplaces? Here my case study I remember hearing a lot of angry baby boomers telling picketing Walmart workers, whom were attempting to form a Union to "go work someone else if they want healthcare and fair wages."

    Now wouldn't it be easier for an Anti-Union worker do the same rather than trying to get everyone in the workplace to give up the union? I'm interested to see how your research came to the conclusion that All Labor Unions are bad.

    Labor unions were created to help workers get fair wages, retirement benefits, and safe working conditions. So if your research says they are bad then what are the benefits to workers when removing them? I'll help you.

    1. Firing bad/careless/dangerous workers.

    That's about all I can come up with. Workers will get lower wages, fewer benefits, and be put in more dangerous situations by management to get quotas met without Unions. The American Blue Collar worker has enough difficulty with the weakening buying power of the US Dollar, competing with the outsourced pennies-on-the-dollar foreign workers and automation making them obsolete. Now they've got this video that's going to be liked, shared, and "Rah-Rah'd" by people on social media who have never had to provide for a family by sweating for a dollar in a busy, hot, and dangerous workplace.

  8. Every flaw you state about union democracy also exists within nation state democracy. If you took a similar poll I am sure most citizens would also say their state governments are self-serving, and they certainly don't hold referendums on whether or not citizens would like to be governed. Of course there's regular elections for union leadership as well so the whole comparison is an insult to people's intelligence. Nice attempt to appear 'working class' by wearing plaid though.

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