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Union Facts

So-Called “Neutrality”

According to one leading labor expert, card check agreements with employers and the “neutrality” clauses included in them, are frequently the result of union coercion. In 2004, former National Labor Relations Board member Charles Cohen testified before Congress: “In my experience, neutrality/card check agreements are almost always the product of external leverage by unions, rather than an internal groundswell from unrepresented employees.”

Unions, apparently concluding that their own record is in part leading to the decline in membership, have pressuring companies into remaining silent about all the facts relevant to unionization as a top priority.

Neutrality occurs when a company agrees to not speak to employees about the risks and downsides of union membership. When asked about neutrality agreements versus secret ballot elections in a 2005 Zogby poll, 59 percent of Americans agreed that “employers should be able to provide employees with information about unions and the potential impact of unionizing on their jobs.” Even political supporters of card check agree in telling both sides when it does not conflict with political demands from union officials. Endorsing the unrelated policy known as the “fairness doctrine,” Illinois Senator Dick Durbin said, “I have this old-fashioned idea that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to decide.”

An oft-cited example of the effects of neutrality agreements or “gag rules” is that of the United Auto Workers that are forced on employers to buy labor peace in existing unionized facilities. Their standard agreement is less about true, across-the-board neutrality than it is about silence, or outright pressure to join unions by employers.