OP-ED: Big Labor’s Neutrality Agreements Must be Stopped
"Increasingly, unions are trying to coerce employers into so-called 'neutrality agreements.'"—Rep. Virginia Foxx [R-NC]
By Rep. Virginia Foxx, (R-NC5), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Jan 25, 2024
In 2023, the union membership rate dropped to 10 percent, the lowest rate on record. This long slide to historic lows is no accident, as American workers—when presented with a choice and a fair vote on unionization—have consistently rejected the failed promises of big labor.
In their fight for relevance, unions have started to evade the long established and settled roads of labor organizing campaigns. Rather than relying on direct appeals to workers, unions now wield their political and economic clout to pressure employers into foregoing their legal right to communicate their views to their employees and take away their employees’ right to a secret ballot election process as provided by the National Labor Relations Act.
Increasingly, unions are trying to coerce employers into so-called “neutrality agreements.” Through bitter corporate campaign messaging, pressure on shareholders, leveraged business relationships, and political influence, unions manipulate the long-established workplace organization process in their attempts to add to their dwindling ranks.
These “agreements” silence employers, take away free speech rights, and ultimately harm working Americans. The language included in them often requires that employers relinquish their free speech rights. As such, workers lose the ability to learn the facts about unions before selecting an exclusive bargaining representative.
Further, neutrality agreements often include a process called “card check,” which denies employees the right to secret ballot elections. The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) published an eye-opening report highlighting how neutrality and card check agreements are designed to leave employees vulnerable to coercion, deception, and intimidation. CDW concludes that these agreements often fail to reflect employees’ true wishes, undermining the core principles on which fair representation should be built.
Examples of unions pushing their agenda to the detriment of America’s workforce are numerous. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) leveraged government power to force Microsoft Activision into agreeing to forego its employees’ right to a secret ballot election in favor of card check. This language helped grease the wheels for the merger’s approval.
Similarly, at Starbucks’ upcoming proxy vote, unions will utilize previously unavailable tactics to coerce companies into making concessions. Under the Securities and Exchange Commission’s new universal proxy rules, for a mere $20,000 investment, the SEIU gets to advance a slate of three pro-labor candidates to be considered for board seats. Though this measure will not likely pass, it is but one example of how unions’ increasing desperation for new members is being fueled by the Biden administration’s obsession with unions.
Senate Democrats are also using their influence to give labor unions a leg up in organizing campaigns. On January 4, 33 Senate Democrats sent a letter to 13 non-union automakers, including Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Tesla, demanding they sign neutrality agreements with the United Auto Workers, which recently kicked off organizing efforts at these non-union automakers. The Senators drive their request home to the automakers by noting that signing a neutrality agreement is the least these companies can do because “companies receive and benefit from federal funds related to the electric vehicle transition.”
Fortunately, many decades of legal precedent have protected employer free speech and questioned the legitimacy of card check voting. These rights need to be protected, not ignored.
The imposition of neutrality agreements through outside pressure – whether from the Biden administration, its partisan allies, or other sources – will upend decades of informed consent in union elections. Our Republic hinges on citizens gathering information to make informed choices prior to voting in secret ballot elections. Neutrality agreements erode America’s core principle of freedom and ultimately harm both job creators and workers.
Working Americans deserve complete and fair access to information so they can make informed decisions that are best for themselves and their families. You can count on the Committee on Education and the Workforce to protect free speech and workers’ rights.
Congresswoman Virginia Foxx [R] represents North Carolina’s 5th District in the United States House of Representatives and currently serves as the Chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
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