Workplace Bullying for Unions at the Workplace Bullying Institute

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Workplace Bullying Solutions for Unions

Unions Under Assault

Union busting has always been part of American history. Organizers were routinely fired (or killed), despite the illegality. The NLRB was under control of administrations that hated labor. Unions are not to blame for the decline in unionization rates in the U.S. since Reagan broke the PATCO union. “Employment at will” is the principle most loved by employers — the right to terminate people anytime, anywhere for no cause is a threat faced by 93% of private sector workers. The American public sector unionization rate is down to 11.2% after 400,000 government workers — teachers, police, fire — lost their jobs to American “austerity – deficit reduction” decisions.

October 2017 SCOTUS

The story below about the Friedrichs case is about to be repeated. The newly filled SCOTUS, again with an anti-labor majority, will hear the case Janus v. AFSCME out of Illinois with a decision expected in 2018. It is a repeat of the Friedrichs case. In this case, driven by the businessman-turned-governor wants unions to have to represent all employees without the ability to charge even a partial fee, called the agency fee, for their workplace-related worker protections. In other words, the opponents claim that the act of collective bargaining with a government (state in this case) agency is “political” activity akin to giving money to political candidates. B.S.

This is the case that will probably finally reverse Abood decision and drive public sector unions in the U.S. into bankruptcy. Stay tuned.

April 2017 SCOTUS Update

Tough times will surely grow worse. Unions dodged a bullet when Justice Scalia died suddenly. He would have supported plaintiffs in the Friedrichs case (see details below). Then Senate Republicans refused to act on Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. After Trump got the job, the Federalist Society gave him his first nominee for the Court, Neil Gorsuch. Thanks to Mitch McConnell and his Senate rules-changing ways helped by four Dem Senators, Gorsuch, the pro-corporate/anti-worker judge became an Associate Justice on SCOTUS. There are more Friedrichs-like cases awaiting SCOTUS hearings. Hold your breath.

The Friedrichs case story. Ten California teachers agreed to front the most brazen right-wing, union-busting effort to date. On Jan. 11, SCOTUS (the Supreme Court) heard oral arguments that a 39-year precedent about union dues should be reversed. In that Abood decision, SCOTUS said that workers could still benefit from workplace protections gained through collective bargaining by the union if those workers pay only a portion of union dues called “fair share” or “agency” fees. The protected workers do not have to become members. The remainder of union dues were assumed to be earmarked for “political activity.” Back in 1977, that activity was political, giving primarily to Democratic candidates for elected offices.

In 2016, enemies of public sector unions chose to redefine bargaining that public sector unions do with their government employers as “political.” The other claim is one of spurious First Amendment infringement. It is as if non-members lose their free speech rights when they are made to pay unions for their administrative member services (the “fair share” fees). Therefore, the goal is to make unions represent all workers — members and non-members — without requiring even the “fair share” portion of dues. SCOTUS will rule whether or not workers can all be “freeriders,” effectively bankrupting the last bastion of American unions, those serving government workers. Details of the Friedrichs case can be read here.

On March 29, 2016, after Scalia’s death, SCOTUS voted 4-4 with a single sentence decision “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.” That meant the decision against the anti-union zealots from both the trial and appellate courts stood. The 1977 precedent continues. Unions dodged a bullet.


David-Goliath battle

The driving force behind all the anti-union laws is a group called ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). Investigative reporting discovered the ALEC-Tea Party-Legislation link. Overnight, existing collective bargaining rights were stripped away in Wisconsin and Ohio. Hard-won labor victories that took years to accomplish through organizing, protesting and bargaining are being erased.

While under assault, it’s easy to pull back and focus solely on survival of the union. However, this is risky because members expect support and benefits from membership, regardless of external pressure on unions.

A Union Concern: Abuse in the Workplace

On Oct. 15, 2012, during the Workplace Bullying Institute’s Freedom From Workplace Bullies Week, Mary Kay Henry, SEIU International President proclaimed opposition to workplace bullying and was joined by David Holway, NAGE President, and NAGE Vice President Greg Sorozan and NAGE Board member Jane Bethel and Dr. Gary Namie, WBI Director. See the videos of their presentations at the National Press Club.

abusive boss

At the 1:1 level, between workers and bosses, the abuse is increasing. In 2017, the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) conducted its fourth national scientific survey of workplace bullying. Bullying, abusive conduct, is defined as repeated health-harming mistreatment, abusive conduct, by one or more employees that takes the form of either verbal abuse; threats, intimidation or humiliation; or sabotage of work. According to that definition, 19% of all adult Americans reported directly experiencing it. The number of workers affected (bullied and those who witnessed it) totals 60.4 million workers. It’s an epidemic that jeopardizes employee health, cuts short careers and toxifies the work environment.

Delivering Help to Bullied Members They Expect

Protective Shield

Employers don’t care about the bullying. Some love it. What are you doing to help your members? Many are in pain and deserve relief. Only Unions can help members.

The Workplace Bullying Institute offers training for Union officers. WBI introduced the phenomenon to the U.S. in 1997. Unions can designate and train a Team of members to become Experts in workplace bullying so they, in turn, can serve fellow members. Reduce stress-related health issues. Intervene. Deal better with member-on-member situations. The training is called Workplace Bullying University®. Unions can send two or three representatives to the public University or bring WBI on-site to train the entire team.

The WBI director, Dr. Gary Namie, is a card-carrying union member (UAW Local 1981). WBI is pro-worker, anti-abuse, pro-labor.

View the Unions & Workplace Bullying video collection at the WBI YouTube site.

Start Here — Poll Your Membership Now — Free!

We will design with you a simple survey to estimate how large a problem workplace bullying is to your members. We have an online data collection survey site. It’s anonymous, 3rd party and easy. Simply e-mail your membership the link to your union-specific survey. Statistical summaries of the findings will be provided within a week of the end of the survey period.

Call WBI today: 360-656-6630

Only unions are employee advocates. Serve your members by working to stop bullying with our help. Also please support the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Legislative Campaign in your state which will benefit all workers. Visit the HWB website to learn details.