By Russ Brown, CEO of RWP Labor
By now all of America knows that the Amazon employees in Bessemer, Alabama voted to reject unionization by a nearly 3 to 1 margin. Do we know why? This is where spin is taking over the narrative. Main stream media pulled out all the stops trying to promote the union with appearances and endorsements from President Biden to Hollywood’s leftist elite. The Retail Warehouse Department Store Union (RWDSU), the union that was on the ballot had multiple radio spots, TV interviews, podcasts and organized protests designed to blur the lines in this campaign between race relations and employee relations. We saw an RWDSU organizer who went by the name of “Big Mike” state that this was as much about Black Lives Matter as it was about labor rights. To be clear the union’s strategy was to equate union rights to human rights. How come it did not work? Will the Amazon election be used to catapult the Protecting Right to Organize Act (PRO Act)?
No surprise, the union is saying that Amazon flexed its corporate muscle making the election unfair. There are accusations of intimidation, misinformation and voter tampering. The RWDSU will file a number of “Unfair Labor Practices” (ULP). The ULP’s are a legal instrument that unions frequently use against companies often with no basis. Why not? There are no penalties or repercussions for making false allegations in the form of a ULP. However, until a ULP is dismissed its status is under investigation and the company has to defend itself.
As a matter of public record our firm, RWP Labor was hired by Amazon to help them with the campaign. Our role was to educate the employees/eligible voters of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and to explain how union representation in America really works. Not surprisingly employees/ eligible voters quickly realized that what we were saying was very different from that the union had told them. Plain and simple the information that the employees gained gave them the knowledge to make an informed decision, resulting in Amazon employees overwhelmingly voting to reject the RWDSU. The unions are consistently losing favor and members in America. The Amazon campaign is another example of why unions are no longer relevant with American employees. The tactic of equating union rights to human rights is not gaining new members as unions hoped. Now the unions are using the failed attempt of unionizing Amazon to promote the pro-union bill called the PRO Act under the guise of an unfair election.
The PRO Act is a giant labor reform bill that contains the wish list from labor unions with one goal, compulsory unionism. The PRO Act contains provisions that include elimination of Right to Work states, currently there are twenty-seven. It also calls for the elimination of independent contractors through Joint Employer provisions that make virtually everyone an employee of the contracting company.
The PRO Act also calls for “neutrality” which means companies that are being organized cannot say anything to the employees that will sway them against the union. In essence it is a gag order that is only placed on employers and not unions. Neutrality is not only mentioned as one of the provisions in the PRO Act, but also is a key component of President Biden’s Infrastructure Bill. Biden’s Bill states that neutrality will be imposed on any company that benefits from the Infrastructure Bill.
Unions, including the RWDSU, know RWP Labor and what we do. Their strategy is to discredit us with employees by labeling us with derogatory names such as “union-busters” and criticizing the company that hired us for having meetings. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has stated that union organizing is none of a company’s business. Trumka further states, that organizing is only between the employees and the union. Contrary to Mr. Trumka’s statements, every union contract also known as a Collective Bargaining Agreement is between the company and the union. Therefore, it is a company’s business whether or not employees unionize. However, the decision to unionize or not does not belong to company’s leadership, but solely belongs to the employees. Clearly a company should have the right to educate their employees about unionization. It could be argued that it is their responsibility to do so. Just like in a political election employees have the right to hear both sides and make an informed decision.
The RWDSU in Bessemer tried to distract the Amazon employees with Hollywood, politicians and human rights allegations. Akin to Jussie Smollett’s accusations of being mugged by conservatives in Chicago the employees at Amazon saw through the noise, weighed their direct relationship with Amazon versus what the RWDSU offered and chose the direct relationship. The rest is history. Do not mistake what took place in Bessemer as a rigged system that needs reform. The PRO Act attempts to eliminate employees ability to make an informed choice and freedom of association issues will certainly ensue as unionization is forced on American employees.
Russ Brown is CEO of RWP Labor, a national positive employee relations firm, Chairman of the Board for the North American Transportation Employee Relations Association (NATERA.org) and President for the Center for Independent Employees, a 501 (c ) 3 legal defense foundation.