This article first appeared at American Thinker on 02/05/2011
With public opinion increasingly critical of overpaid and under-performing labor unions, one might expect that union members and their representatives would be keeping a low profile while mounting a public relations campaign to repair their well-earned and sullied reputations. Not this bunch. In the face of an onslaught of public criticism of their excessive pay and absurdly generous health and retirement benefits coupled with a call for increased accountability and an end to tenure, public union members are actually becoming more strident and militant in their determination to demand what they seem to think is their entitlement.
Fresh on the heels of the National Labor Relations Board's http://www.nlrb.gov/shared_files/Press%20Releases/2010/R-2780 ruling confirming the right of unions to engage in “bannering,”a Michigan carpenter's union is vigorously pursuing the practice. It's time for a court review of this practice and these belligerent unionists are providing the perfect case to pursue.
Ken Braun at the Michigan Capitol Confidential http://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/14458
provides a detailed report on the brouhaha. It seems that the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters isn't happy negotiating solely for members of it's union. The union is now resorting to a form of extortion to influence the actions of companies who don't use their members.
The targeted company, Ritsema Associates, is a construction contractor located near Grand Rapids. Back in July, the MRCC sent a letter to Ritsema claiming that they had investigated the company and determined that they were paying sub-standard wage and benefits. Mind you, this is not a government agency performing its due diligence: the is a rival organization with interests competing with those of Ritsema. No evidence was provided in the letter suggesting how this investigation was conducted. Ritsema was informed that if they did not provide their private payroll information to the MRCC, they would be considered to be paying substandard wages.
Of course, Ritsema refused to provide their private company information. Two weeks later a dozen of it's customers received a “Notice of Labor Dispute” http://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/media/images/2011/Union/Letter.pdf stating that:
The Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters has a labor dispute with Ritsema & Associates, who does not meet area labor standards-they do not pay the standard wages to all their employees, including paying for health benefits and pension.
We want you to be aware that our new and aggressive pubic information campaign against this company will unfortunately impact all parties associated with projects where they are employed. The campaign will include highly visible lawful banner displays and distribution of handbills at the job site and premises of property owners, developers, general contractors and any other firms involved with projects involving a non area standard contractor.
Tony Soprano couldn't have said it any better.
The bannering went into effect almost immediately with the “banner lines” being manned by hired guns paid by the cash-flush union. The union hired guns were also handing out flyers from the MRCC featuring a rat chewing on an American flag. The flyer encourages phone calls to the company who had contracted Ritsema to complain about the work being done on their property.
This practiced of bannnering is nothing more than an attempt by the NLRB to achieve the same result as the discredited “card-check” legislation that the Democrats were unable to cram down our throats while they maintained an overwhelming majority in Congress. Make no mistake, Obama has pursued the aims of labor unions through the executive branch, just as he attempted to go around the Congress with the EPA 's backdoor cap-and-trade. When B.O. was unable to get his union man, Craig Becker, http://blogs.investors.com/capitalhill/index.php/home/35-politicsinvesting/2376-obama-renominates-union-man-becker-to-nlrb approved through the Senate nominating process, he went ahead and stacked the NLRB with Becker via recess appointment along with another union shill, Mark Pearce. http://workinprogress.firedoglake.com/2010/03/27/obama-appoints-two-democratic-nominees-to-nlrb-leaves-gop-nominee-behind/ This was on the advice of Richard Trumka.
The NLRB's approval of bannering appears to have Becker & Pearce's fingerprints all over it. Doesn't Congress have oversight of the NLRB? It's time for an investigation of this reprehensible practice. While the Obama administration continues to pander to their bag men in the labor unions, Ritsema Associates is in danger of losing its contract with some clients who were clearly intimidated the flagrant aggression of the MRCC. And that, of course, will lead to fewer jobs for Ritsema employees. Shall we count these as jobs uncreated or jobs unsaved?