An ongoing court battle over the unionization status of more than 1,000 Las Vegas workers is a sign of what’s to come if President Joe Biden and his political allies succeed in rewriting union election rules.
Big Labor partisans in Congress have been trying for years to get rid of secret ballot union elections and make so-called “card check” drives the standard method for unionization. Under “card check,” signatures on union “authorization cards” would count as “votes” for unionization.
Workers have reported being told that union cards are simply requests for information, while other workers faced threats that they will be fired or deported if they refuse to sign. Workers who understand what they’re signing face the pressure of being forced to publically declare their position to union organizers, who have a well-earned reputation for using less-than-gentle tactics to get their way. Some workers have had to call the police just to get union agents seeking a signature off their property.
It’s no surprise, then, that unions officials who claim majority support by gathering “card check” signatures from more than half of a workplace still frequently lose elections when they’re put to a federally supervised secret ballot vote.
That’s what happened at Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas: Workers voted 627-534 against unionization in a secret ballot vote, even though Culinary union officials claimed they’d previously obtained signed union cards from more than 50 percent of Red Rock’s employees.
The result of the election should have meant no union monopoly control at Red Rock. But that’s not what happened.
The National Labor Relations Board, which oversees union elections, is now full of Biden’s Big Labor partisans, who decline to neutrally enforce the law and instead seek to boost union membership.
So when union officials challenged the Red Rock election results, the presiding NLRB regional director asked a federal judge to impose the union on the workers anyway, pointing to the “card check” signatures as evidence that the secret ballot vote rejecting the union should be reversed.
The judge agreed and ordered the casino to begin bargaining with union officials, justifying it with the results of a card-check process that’s coercive by its very nature.
Courts don’t usually issue such bargaining orders after workers have voted against unionization. Normally, if there is any misconduct that can actually be substantiated, the standard remedy is a rerun election. But if NLRB partisans have their way, it looks as if union officials will get to impose monopoly “representation” on workers simply on the basis of card checks alone — no need for those unpredictable secret ballots.
Biden-appointed NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo is leading the charge, seeking to dispense with secret ballot elections.
After Abruzzo left her job as a top union lawyer and was confirmed as general counsel, she quickly issued a memo outlining sweeping NLRB rule changes she intends to implement, including resurrecting an NLRB theory discarded in the 1960s that employers should be prosecuted if they don’t automatically bargain with union officials when presented with union cards.
If the Biden NLRB follows her lead, it would make “card check” the default unionization method without approval from Congress, which so far has blocked legislation to mandate the coercive process. In 2010 a major “card check” bill failed in Congress after facing bipartisan opposition.
And despite Biden’s repeated calls for its passage, including in his State of the Union address, the Big Labor-backed PRO-Act — which includes “card check” among its many new union boss powers — remains blocked in the Senate.
Biden was elected with substantial financial backing from union bosses, who expect the president to deliver new powers to force more workers into the dues-paying ranks. That includes the power to take over workplaces where not even half the employees would choose unionization if given the free choice in a secret ballot vote.
We can expect these kind of power grabs to continue until Congress passes laws that explicitly guarantee no workers can be forced to pay union dues or be subject to union bargaining against their will.
Otherwise, union-aligned politicians such as Biden will keep pushing to give union bosses more and more power, while giving workers less and less ability to rebuff union intimidation.
Mark Mix is president of the National Right to Work Foundation and National Right to Work Committee.