Seems that Monsieur Le plombier was in the area yesterday.
Here's KDKA's coverage.
A couple of things to emphasize about Jon Delano's reporting. First off, some local unionized plumbers don't like the fact that Mr Wurzelbacher isn't licensed to be a plumber. Good enough for me. If the licensed practitioners reject the label due to a lack of a license on Joe's part, then he's not a plumber. Hey I helped my father-in-law replace the faucet in the kitchen this weekend. Does that make me a plumber? Of course not. It belittles all the training necessary to get a plumbing license.
So simply put Joe the plumber isn't.
But this is somewhat beside the point. As Jon reports (2:00 in):
The big issue is whether the Employee Free Choice Act takes away the workers' secret ballot in unionizing.Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity is quoted as saying:
It takes the right of the secret ballot away from American workers when they're deciding whether or not to join a union. It's almost unamerican in many ways.Jack Shea, president of the Allegheny County Labor Council says otherwise:
It's a lie. They're lying.Unfortunately, Delano doesn't delve into which one is telling the truth (though in fairness, he does state early in the piece that the bill "would make it easier to unionize companies").
You can thank me next time you see me, Jon. Here's the facts:
The text of HR 1409 is here. The bill would amend National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. 159(c)) with the following:
Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, whenever a petition shall have been filed by an employee or group of employees or any individual or labor organization acting in their behalf alleging that a majority of employees in a unit appropriate for the purposes of collective bargaining wish to be represented by an individual or labor organization for such purposes, the Board shall investigate the petition. If the Board finds that a majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for bargaining has signed valid authorizations designating the individual or labor organization specified in the petition as their bargaining representative and that no other individual or labor organization is currently certified or recognized as the exclusive representative of any of the employees in the unit, the Board shall not direct an election but shall certify the individual or labor organization as the representative described in subsection (a).Here's the National Labor Relations Act. You can hunt down 29 U.S.C. 159(c) on your own, if you like.
But what does all that mean above? Christopher Beam of Slate writes:
Here's how it works currently: Say you work at a factory and you want to form a union. First, you approach your favorite union and request a bunch of blank cards. (Here's what they look like.) Then you go around to your colleagues and ask them whether they want to sign up. If they do, they sign their name to the cards. Once you get 30 percent of the total work force to sign cards, you're eligible to hold an election on whether to form a union. (Workers usually wait till they get at least 50 percent or 60 percent, just to make sure they will win the election.) You then present the cards to the National Labor Relations Board and the employer. The employer can then either recognize the union right away or request a secret-ballot election, which must happen within 60 days. If more than 50 percent of employees vote for a union, they've got a union. If not, they don't.And what would things look like if the EFCA passes? Beam:
It's simple: the choice of a "secret ballot" would be up to the employees not the employers. Something you don't hear too much from the media, huh?
The essential change of the EFCA would be to allow the employees—rather than the employer—to decide whether to hold a secret-ballot election. If at least half of the work force signed cards saying it wanted a union, there would be a union—without the rigmarole of a full-blown election.
Workers still have the option of holding a secret ballot election, of course. But, again, as a practical matter, it's hard to imagine why a group of workers, having just won a union, would then also decide to hold an election. Sure, a smaller group of workers—it'd have to be at least 30 percent—could still petition for a secret ballot. But the legislation clearly states that "[i]f the Board finds that a majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for bargaining has signed valid authorizations … the Board shall not direct an election but shall certify the individual or labor organization as the representative." [emphasis in original]
Now go back and look at what Phillips said. And now look at what Shea said. Who's right? Since the workers would now have the option for a secret ballot (after collecting the necessary signed cards), it's hard to see how that "right" is taken away from them by the EFCA.
It is taken away from the employers. And maybe that's what got the Americans for Prosperity all in a tizzy.