UNLESS something changes in Washington, American workers will, on New Year’s Day, effectively lose their right to be represented by a union. Two of the five seats on the National Labor Relations Board, which protects collective bargaining, are vacant, and on Dec. 31, the term of Craig Becker, a labor lawyer whom President Obama named to the board last year through a recess appointment, will expire. Without a quorum, the Supreme Court ruled last year, the board cannot decide cases.Crippling the Right to Organize (New York Times)
What would this mean?
Workers illegally fired for union organizing won’t be reinstated with back pay. Employers will be able to get away with interfering with union elections. Perhaps most important, employers won’t have to recognize unions despite a majority vote by workers. Without the board to enforce labor law, most companies will not voluntarily deal with unions.
If this nightmare comes to pass, it will represent the culmination of three decades of Republican resistance to the board — an unwillingness to recognize the fundamental right of workers to band together, if they wish, to seek better pay and working conditions. But Mr. Obama is also partly to blame; in trying to install partisan stalwarts on the board, as his predecessors did, he is all but guaranteeing that the impasse will continue. On Wednesday, he announced his intention to nominate two pro-union lawyers to the board, though there is no realistic chance that either can gain Senate confirmation anytime soon.
That's an old story from last year. I don't remember hearing about it in any other forum, ESPECIALLY televised "news". You would think the end of the right to bargain collectively would be sort of newsworthy, wouldn't ya? Guess not to the people that run the media. Meanwhile, at the state level:
Republican leaders in Indiana on Monday declared as their top legislative priority making Indiana a “right to work” state, setting the stage for a new battle over union rights that has already consumed many states. The proposal would prevent unions from negotiating contracts that would require workers to pay union dues.Republicans in Indiana to Seek Law Limiting Unions (New York Times)
The notion instantly set off objections from the state’s union leaders, who said the true aim was to weaken labor unions, and from Democratic lawmakers, some of whom had left the state for more than a month early this year in an effort to block similar provisions.
With an election year approaching, the Republican leaders’ decision to revisit the question places Indiana squarely in the center of a volatile political debate already playing out elsewhere. In Ohio, voters this month overwhelmingly repealed a law limiting collective bargaining for public sector workers, and in Wisconsin, a fight over bargaining rights has led critics of the state’s Republican governor to begin collecting signatures in the hope of recalling him from office.
“We must remove the last barrier to job creation in Indiana,” said Representative Brian C. Bosma, the Republican speaker of the Indiana House, who said the legislation would probably be considered when lawmakers met in January. “Time and again, those charged with bringing new jobs to Indiana have given us very specific evidence that at least a third to a half of businesses looking for where to move take Indiana off the table because we’re not a right-to-work state.”
Last year the Tea party "revolution" that was funded by the Koch brothers decided en masse to smash unions at the state level, as evidenced by the battle against state employee unions here in Wisconsin (the recall effort is underway). It is often claimed that Nazi and Soviet regimes also smashed unions. In fact, they smashed independent trade unions. "Official" trade unions were allowed, so long as they were under the government's control. Even the great dictatorial regimes of the last century did not preside over a populace foolish enough to voluntarily accept lowered living standards by effectively eliminating the rights to collectively bargain entirely. No population has been that stupid until the modern-day United States. Then again, we were were stupid enough to stand by and watch as our entire industrial base was dismantled and shipped to China. I'm sure the corporate elites think they can get away with anything after that. The sad thing is, they're probably right.