By Susan Manchester
The UAW and pro-labor politicians in Washington are looking to restrict the free flow of information to workers in order to inflate union membership numbers. It’s an alarmingly cynical strategy that could allow the union to ensnare thousands of workers who won’t have a full understanding of the negative consequences of unionization.
UAW allies in Washington – 33 U.S. Senators including Ohio’s Sherrod Brown – recently sent a letter to executives of international automakers essentially threatening to withhold federal investments in EV manufacturing if the carmakers fail to agree to so-called “neutrality agreements.” The Senators falsely suggest that money in the Inflation Reduction Act binds the companies to these agreements, even though this condition is not in the law.
Neutrality agreements are unjust to workers. Under these arrangements, employers agree to remain silent during a union organizing campaign, leaving workers with only one source of information – the union. In many cases, employers are even forbidden to correct misinformation about the union. These agreements rob workers of the facts and context necessary to make an informed decision and they deprive employers of their constitutional right to free speech.
Ohio’s workers may soon have to ask themselves a serious question that will affect their careers: is it worth voting to join a union if they need to rig the election?
Neutrality agreements are hardly the only trick up the UAW’s sleeve. Unions frequently pressure employers to adopt card check as the preferred method for determining employee preferences regarding union representation, as opposed to a secret ballot election. In this process, workers are compelled to publicly declare their stance on unionization by either signing or refraining from signing “authorization” cards. Undue pressure, threats, and intimidation often result.
Despite the reluctance of most employers to yield to union demands for card check, certain unions, including the UAW in Washington, DC, are advocating for new legislation mandating employers to accept card check. Moreover, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently issued a decision that could potentially eliminate elections in favor of authorization cards in a broader range of circumstances.
Should Ohio auto workers join the union? That’s for the workers themselves to decide. But it certainly appears as if the union itself wants to make that decision for them. Ohioans should insist that any efforts to organize auto manufacturing facilities in our state are fair and above board.
The writer represents District 78 in the Ohio House of Representatives.