Setting the record straight on union membership

Recently a guest columnist, Luke Ladan, with the Center for Union Facts, submitted an article, published in The Lima News.

Iit appears that the author has never worked as a union employee. Some statements in the article could be construed as alternative facts. The biggest falsehood in the article concerns the use of union authorization cards as a substitute for a secret ballot representation election. The National Labor Relations Board has not approved authorization cards as a substitute for a board-certified secret ballot election.

If the author had ever worked in a union, then he would know that union members do get to assess their union leadership in the form of democratic elections held every three or four years, depending on the union, where any member of the union can run for union leadership positions, both at the local and national level. Just like any other election, incumbency plays a part in a person, currently in a position of leadership, maintaining their position, but democratic elections are held and the results are made public.

One thing not mentioned by the author is that, just as in local, state and national elections, not everyone eligible to participate and vote actually takes full advantage of this democratic right. Then, just as in local, state and national elections, these people, along with those that actually participate in electing their union leaders, have to accept the certified results.

The author did mention the name of labor legislation that is in process: the Employee Rights Act, oe as Conservatives call it, Right To Work legislation. The problem is that this bill, if enacted, gives employees neither rights at work nor a guarantee of employment. What it does do is to give employees that don’t want to pay their fair share of dues, a free ride on the backs of those employees that see the benefit of being a full dues-paying member of their union. I call this “their” union because, just like anything else, businesses, fraternal clubs, or any other organizations, are no better than the people that are their members. Employees have a choice whether to be actively or passively involved in the union. If employees are satisfied with the same people being elected to represent them in their union, then that’s their choice.

Another portion of the labor legislation, mentioned by the author, concerns forcing unions to hold a union recertification election, periodically. This is another way for businesses to meddle in union activity on a recurring basis. Since the author mentions that only about one-tenth of current employees in union shops have ever voted on having union representation, then the other half of the story is these people get to enjoy all the benefits of being in a union (negotiated wages, benefits, healthcare, holidays, vacations, overtime pay) without having to be subjected to management’s initial forced all-hands meetings where only management got to give their side of why the employees would be better off without a union to represent them. Unions offer employees a voice in the workplace; a chance at democracy to have a say in how the business is run and freedom from the tyranny of working in sweatshop conditions. This is the crux of businesses abhorrence to dealing with employees in a labor union, but this legislation would give businesses further chances at selling their one-sided autocratic view of how the working world should be.

The real fact is that this legislation is a ruse by businesses to defund Labor Unions by taking advantage of people’s human nature in wanting to get something for nothing. And it forces Unions to do something that no other organization is required to do. In fact, if the law passes, it would be a direct violation of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in forcing Unions to work for free in representing all members, including the deadbeat non dues-paying members. Indentured, involuntary servitude and slavery were outlawed by the 13th Amendment.

The labor law revisions the author does mention only helps employers. Another alternative fact is employees are pushing for this legislation. The legislation is a pipe dream of business, not employees. In fact, businesses and the Chamber of Commerce have spent millions of dollars attempting to get this legislation enacted. When was the last time anyone heard of businesses spending millions of dollars trying to give employees more rights, more input, on their jobs?

Larry E. Donaldson, a retired labor leader in Elida, can be reached at

Larry E. Donaldson, a retired labor leader in Elida, can be reached at

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