Saturday, March 27, 2010

Major Pro-Union Changes Ahead At National Labor Relations Board

President Obama unilaterally appointed Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in a recess appointment.

Becker is the General Counsel to the Service Employees International Union with views so controversial that he was rejected twice by the Senate for the same appointment. By appointing him while the Senate is in recess, Obama can avoid the Constitutional prescription that his appointees must be approved by the Senate.

Randal Johnston of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce responded, saying, "Overriding the will of the Senate and providing this special interest payback contradicts the president's claim to change the tone in Washington. The business community should be on red alert for radical changes that could significantly impair the ability of America's job creators to compete."

Mark Gason Pearce, also a union lawyer, was also appointed on a recess basis, this giving Democrats a 3 to 1 vote on the NLRB. The second Republican position was curiously not filled by Obama.

This virtually guarantees a pro-union/anti-management Labor Board for at least the next year.

Expect changes in the way elections are held and the length of time between petition and voting. Unions want to compress the time as much as possible in an effort to prevent employees from hearing both sides. Our expectation is that they will get their wish.

Pre-emptive planning is suggested and, indeed, necessary to remaining non-union in light of these developments.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"With You"

As I prepare to leave tomorrow and spend a week in St. Louis, I was listening to a few tunes tonight at my desk.

"With You," by Nate Stone, is a recent favorite and was playing when I decided to find out just who Nate Stone is.

This from his Bio . . .

"I am a singer/songwriter from Flagstaff, Arizona that has been making music for ten years. In 2006 my band Mercy Fall released an album on Atlantic records and spent a majority of the year touring the country. I must admit, it was pretty amazing. A dream come true.

"2008 was a year of tremendous significance for me. My perspective on life, music, and success changed drastically. When we returned from the road we found ourselves back where we started; unsuccessful, broke, and without a record deal. I became extremely depressed and confused.

"With all the work that we put into this, how could this happen? What did we do wrong? I realized that my contentment in life was completely hinged on the success of the band and that even if we became wildly successful I would still never be happy. I have lost the desire to become famous and revered. I feel that my desires in the past have been selfish and unimportant and I’ve learned that I am unwilling to let success or failure define me as a person and as an artist.

"I feel that the only way to become successful in life and in music is to become truly happy with myself. With that said, I am embarking on a new journey, in life and in music."

The rest of the story goes something like this -- Nate released his relentless passion for success and then became successful. "With You" was a hit out of nowhere and now on his album, "Love and Tragedy."

Sometimes, indeed more times than most would like to believe, it is only when we release our desires and be open to new ways of thinking that we learn who we are, what we're supposed to be doing, and why.

To hear Nate's song, go to

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Unions Don't Have EFCA (Yet), But Have Won Other Victories That Make It Easier to Organize Employees

While organized labor hasn't yet gotten the Grand Prize they were promised by President Obama, the Employee Free Choice Act, they have won several behind-the-scenes battles that will make it easier for them to organize employers.

In virtually every campaign, we suggest the employer pull out the Union's LM-2 -- that is a detailed financial statement required by the Labor Management Relations Act to be filed yearly by every labor organization. Some of the expenses are startling to many employees -- airplanes, expensive cars, huge salaries for union officials, luxury hotels and restaurants, just to name a few.

Labor Secretary Solis (appointed by Obama) and her political allies have withdrawn rules intended to promote disclosure of union finances. (The Bush Administration issued new regulations calling for more detailed information to be filed by unions and trusts controlled by unions. The disclosure forms are called the T-1, LM-2 and LM-3 forms. During the Bush administration unions argued unsuccessfuly for weaker union reporting standards.)

Now, the “revised” forms proposed by Solis will allow unions to hide their expenses more easily. The revisions are still another reward for Big Labor at the expense of transparency to employees and union members.

While organized labor has problems in Congress, its allies in the Obama administration are allowing them to achieve under cover what they have not been able to achieve in public.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Myths And Legends Die Hard In America

"Myths and legends die hard in America.

We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men's reality. Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of 'the rat race' is not yet final."

—Hunter S. Thompson, The Great Shark Hunt, 1979

60, 70, even 80 hour weeks are common for managers in today's slash and burn economy.

The corporate value equation goes something like this: high unemployment = more hours at work = increased productivity = higher profits.

I get that part.

And I understand if a young manager wants to be promotable, if he wants to get ahead, he needs to be the hardest worker, the one to put in the extra effort, the superhuman hours, the one who will sublimate everything else in order to . . . in order to . . .

It is filling in that blank where the deal goes sideways.

What exactly does a young manager with a family believe he is accomplishing working six and seven days a week, into the late evenings, spending untold days on the road, and otherwise ignoring all other opportunities life has to offer?

Does he believe that there is a finish line in this race, all evidence to the contrary?

Does he believe the extra money is going to change the endgame?

Does he believe that one day more will become enough?

Does he believe that he will be different than those 20 years ahead of him who are still grinding away?

Can he not see the Maalox bottles strewn over the desks of his superiors?

Has he calculated the emotional toll of a failed marriage, children who won't recognize him on a wanted poster -- common costs of sublimating everything to the "cause?"

Has he ever spoken to retired execs who, in retrospect, are often bitter over the Faustian bargain they struck?

Who exactly are the "heroes" in whose footsteps he wants to follow?

I would like to know and I have asked.

The young manager often mutters something about "success," and when unable to define it in a way that does not render the entire English language meaningless, then assumes the noble pose, professing an undying desire to "take care of my family," which seems darkly comical even to him as he utters those words. His discomfort is palpable.

This is perhaps the great American workplace tragedy for it is viral, intractable, and for most, has proven irreversible.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Becker's Back

The Obama administration is hinting at a recess appointment for union lawyer, Craig Becker, to the National Labor Relations Board.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis told AFL-CIO officials at their annual meeting Wednesday there will soon be "positive news" on the long-stalled nomination of union lawyer Craig Becker.

Solis then told reporters the unions will be "very pleased" with how the issue is resolved.

President Obama upset union leaders when he decided not to appoint Becker during a Congressional recess last month. Union officials now think Obama may act when Congress breaks for Easter and put Becker on the Board during a Congressional recess.

Senate Republicans blocked Becker's confirmation twice, including last month, saying say he would push an aggressively pro-union agenda when refereeing labor-management disputes.

And he would. He has opined in writing that employers have no place in the process when it comes to employees deciding to vote for or against a labor union. Indeed, he is not for a vote at all, but rather, believes the NLRB could effectively invoke the provisions of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) by simply forcing employers to recognize unions based on card check.

Not only may we have the Obama health plan shoved down our throats, but Craig Becker, too.

Stay tuned . . .