Thursday, October 30, 2008

More Employers Politicking?

Wow. It looks like the big retailers are pulling out all stops to stop the Obama steamroller with captive audience meetings with their employees to engage in none-too-subtle office politicking (which JH has written about before). 

From the Wall Street Journal:

Retailers are meeting with store managers to warn how a strong showing for Democrats in the Nov. 4 election could cause what they fear would be more economic pain for their companies, in particular by potentially making it easier for unions to organize stores.

The companies are worried about presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's stated support for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would do away with secret balloting and allow unions to form if a majority of employees sign cards favoring unionization. The legislation, retailers fear, would have improved chances of becoming law under a Democratic administration . . . .

Home Depot Inc. in recent weeks has held meetings between its employee-relations managers and all the company's salaried employees, including district managers and store managers, on how the Free Choice legislation would change the union-organizing process.

"We think the most basic element of any democracy is the vote by secret ballot, and this bill effectively eliminates that right," said Home Depot spokesman Ron DeFeo. He said individual candidates' stances on the bill weren't discussed at the meetings.

This summer, several labor unions filed a complaint, which is still pending, with the Federal Election Commission, alleging Wal-Mart Stores Inc. essentially encouraged its managers and salaried supervisors to vote against Sen. Obama and other Democratic candidates because of their support for the Free Choice legislation. Wal-Mart said the purpose of the meetings was to educate workers about the bill and the downside of a unionized workplace.

While the Wal-Mart human-resources managers running the meetings didn't specifically tell attendees how to vote, they made it clear that voting for Sen. Obama would be tantamount to inviting in unions.

I and my co-authors, Melissa Hart and Marcia McCormick, made real clear how we feel about this office politicking in a column in The Legal Times.  This is just the addition of more employer intimidation in the workplace.

But the other things that struck me about this "balanced" piece from the WSJ is that unionism is equated with economic pain in the first paragraph. 

If economic pain means less executive compensation for company executives and more pay for the average job in better conditions, than I think they got it right.


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The Wall Street Journal article does not detail "captive audience meetings with their employees" as your introductory note suggests. It appears that these meetings were held for 2(13) supervisors and/or managerial employees under the NLRA.

BIG difference.

It is completely inappropriate to characterize a meeting with individuals who are statutory supervisors or managerial employees as "captive audience meetings" - a term that has clearly come to mean meetings with 2(3) employees. Your article in the Legal Times similarly conflates the two separate categories.

Posted by: Tom Trachsel | Oct 30, 2008 3:00:24 PM

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