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Latest News - May 2011

May 11, 2011
Union pledge cards targeted
Source: Nashua Telegraph
By: KEVIN LANDRIGAN

CONCORD – The New Hampshire Legislature looks ready to undo letting public employees organize through pledge cards rather than via a secret ballot.

The state law permits a public employee union to be certified with a majority of signed cards from affected workers.

Rep. Gary Daniels, R-Milford, said Tuesday that the so-called card check law permits union organizers to get backing from the majority it chooses to solicit and can ignore those unlikely to back the idea.

Daniels gave the example of a small unit with 20 people.

“You could get 11 people and not even have to talk to the other nine,” Daniels told the Senate Commerce Committee. “We were concerned it took away the rights of the other nine to have a voice.”

But Janice Dunnington, a part-time, adjunct math professor in the community college system, said getting her 600 colleagues to embrace a union through card check was quicker and cheaper for the taxpayer.

It takes 30 percent of the work force to force a secret ballot election that can take several weeks longer than one done through card check.

“Clearly the majority, sign-up system works well,” Dunnington said. “The system does not need to be changed or fixed.”

Currently, there are 600 public employee union units and 510 collective bargaining agreements covering them.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the bill (HB 589) of Rep. Will Smith, R-New Castle, to repeal the card check law of 2007.

After hearing testimony mostly against that idea, the Senate Commerce Committee voted, 4-1, to support the bill and the state Senate is likely to follow suit next week.

Gov. John Lynch hasn’t weighed in about repealing the law he signed four years ago, but the GOP-dominated Senate could follow the House lead and adopt it by a veto-proof super-majority.

Sen. Russell Prescott, R-Kingston, said card check does not contain a public announcement of the vote but can be a nebulous, person-to-person lobbying campaign for unions that can go on for an extended period of time.

“There is no public announcement. There is no voting that is private, and there can be intimidation to have these cards signed,” said Russell, who chairs the Senate panel.

Sen. Matt Houde, D-Plainfield, said getting a majority to sign cards represents a “broader picture” than bringing about a secret ballot vote.

Anyone who signs a card and has second thoughts can contact the state Public Employee Labor Relations Board and confidentially revoke their names from the list, he added.

“I think this is really a pretty blatant swipe at labor,” said Houde, the only Senate Democrat on the committee. “We are hammering labor again and again.”

Nationally, organized labor has tried for more than a decade to convince Congress to have this type of union voting for organizing in the private workplace.

After the Democrats took control of the Legislature in the 2006 elections, leaders moved quickly to achieve this.

At that time, Sen. Raymond White, R-Bedford, had his own insurance business.

“I kind of resented card check as a business owner,” White said. “People organized for 100 years the way we used to do it until a few years ago.”

Indeed, those seeking to form public employee unions have made this card check method a more popular option than the secret ballot.

Since 2007, there have been 42 petitions filed to form unions through card check and only 11 elections (See attached chart).

The PELRB did not take a position on this bill but Executive Director Douglas Ingersoll said card check contests are easy and more efficient to manage than a secret ballot contest.

“Therefore, in terms of its impact on agency operations, the written majority authorization process is more efficient and manageable in terms of demands on staff time and PELRB resources,” Ingersoll said. “Public employers also likely experience some efficiency gains through the avoidance of the pre-election and election process.”

There appears to be no difference in the likely outcome of a union vote by the method used to organize, he added.

 

 


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