Tag Archives: labor

Worrying and Wisconsin and Walker

New Orleans   Local 100 has an election today for about 50 school custodial workers with a private contractor from out of state.  After many elections you can almost smell victory or defeat.  Looking at the vital statistics of this organizing drive, this one smells like a winner.

Wisconsin and today’s vote on the recall of Governor Scott Walker is critically important to labor everywhere in the USA, but it doesn’t smell good to me and what I’m feeling when talking to people has the scent of death about it.  The odds are astronomically against us in many ways.

Start with the money.  A chart in today’s Times states the difference between the Walker and his opponent is a factor of ten with Walker having raised $29 million and the Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett only at $3 million.  With an overall price tag for the race besting $60 million, the air war is totally stacked against the Democratic challenger.  That’s not good.

Where’s the love?  For Walker and Barrett this is a re-run of the race two years ago which Walker narrowly won.  Labor, which has moved the resources and field, supported a challenger this time that lost to Barrett, so this is their default candidate running now and not the one that they wanted.  Second-best makes it harder to stir the passion that might make the difference in this race.

Our strength is on the ground game, and the reports of last minute visits and doors hit is impressive and numbers in the hundreds of thousands.   This kind of saturation coupled with the media mayhem explains why there is only about 3% undecided in the polls.

But the Republicans have argued that they know we live on the ground and are countering that, perhaps successfully.  Reports indicate that 94% of the Republicans in Wisconsin say they will vote and only 77% of the Democrats.  Both of those are high numbers, but with a projected 60-65% turnout, we need more working stiffs to limber up and get to the polls and at 77% that may not be enough to overtake the hardcore commitment business and the Republicans have made to this “last stand” to eliminate union protections in Wisconsin.

It’s always harder run the defense than the offense, and we are still digging in our heels in Wisconsin and trying to win.

I’m hoping for the best, but I sure don’t like the smell of this right now.  We better be prepared to lose, because it doesn’t look good.


Do NLRB Election Changes Matter If No One is Organizing

            New Orleans               The surviving members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) published a final rulemaking on some “modest” (quoting Rich Trumka of the AFL-CIO) changes to election procedures this week.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has quickly announced that they will file suit to block the regulations as an assault on “free speech” before they are scheduled to take effect on April 30, 2012.  This surely is a political posturing exercise on their part in order to prevent more extensive and perhaps more meaningful proposals from emerging in the workplace, because these changes are at best technical and though important will not change the organizing climate significantly for workers.

The new rule modifications primarily affect elections that go to a hearing before the NLRB and involve appeals.  The NLRB in their release of the rule indicated that only about 10% of elections are currently going to hearing, since mostly the parties are agreeing to stipulated elections.  The number of elections in the last available year (2009) only totaled 1304, so we are talking about 130 elections involving perhaps 7000 workers.  Some of these hearings are quick and simple matters for unsophisticated employers and attorneys hoping for the best, so only a subset of these 130 elections actually involve appeals.   Previously I’ve argued that this is not insignificant because the larger the unit being organized, the more likely the hearing and the appeals, and if a union is stuck in that rut it is absolutely a world of pain with a recent Berkeley Labor Center report, based on a FOIA filing with the NLRB, indicating that the delays will of elections will run from more than 4 months to close to 6 months.  In these cases the new rule will be helpful in allowing the election to proceed and forcing the lawyers to argue later and limiting and consolidating the appeals, but….

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