More on the High Point Labor Dispute
Matt Thornton, a spokesman for the National Right to Work Foundation, objected to the characterization of his organization in a story I wrote as ‘“anti-union.’” The characterization is based on the Foundation’s stated opposition to what is known as compulsory unionism’— or ‘“closed-shop unionism’” ‘— in which a workplace employs only union members once a majority have indicated support for the union. Most states in the Northeast and West allow closed-shop unions; every state in the South outlaws them.
The Foundation positions itself as supporting individual choice on union membership, but since its founding in 1968 has supported state legislation to prohibit compulsory unionism and has lent its legal support to workers who bridle at union representation. Arguably, unions that don’t represent all employees in a workplace can’t be effective because they don’t have the unity to back up their demands.
In line with the Foundation’s stated position of neutrality, Thornton suggests in his letter that the suspended bargaining relationship between Thomas Built and the United Auto Workerssomething of a ‘sweetheart deal.’ Thornton writes that in a precondition agreement between Thomas Built and the UAW for beginning a card-check procedure, ‘“the union agreed, in advance, to be a weak, company union in exchange for company assistance in corralling new dues paying union members.’”
The precondition agreement, signed by representatives of parent company Freightliner and the UAW, bears out Thornton’s claim.
The agreement contains several terms that could be considered favorable to the company: no provisions for severance pay in the event of a layoff or plant closure, no strikes, no prohibitions against subcontracting and no added restrictions against overtime scheduling.
Yet the complaint that led to suspension of the bargaining arrangement with Thomas Built does not appear to be motivated by a desire for a union that drives a harder bargain for workers.
‘“I don’t think the employees need a union, as I have shown I have a voice of my own,’” employee Jeff Ward told YES! Weekly.