Union Front Organizations the New Face of Big Labor

Key focus of AFL-CIO convention this week, according to labor policy expert

For Immediate Release
Monday, Sept. 9, 2013
Ted O'Neil
Media Relations Manager

MIDLAND — From Wal-Mart protests to fast food strikes, organized labor is shifting gears and trying to gain money and power through union front organizations called “worker centers,” according to a new study authored by F. Vincent Vernuccio, labor policy director for the Mackinac Center, and published by the Capital Research Center.

“Worker centers are purporting to represent employees who never voted them into their workplace,” Vernuccio said. “In many cases these unions try to drive away business from job creators or make crippling demands of businesses, jeopardizing the employment of the very workers they are claiming to help. They’ll be putting a lot of focus on this effort at the AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles this week.”

As the study points out, unions are now “organizing” workers without necessarily making them union members. This is accomplished by creating what are known as “alt-unions,” or “worker centers.” Both are used as pawns by Big Labor to run “corporate campaigns,” in which unions publicly attempt to intimidate job creators by attacking their reputations in hopes of getting those employers to concede to their demands. One ploy is demanding that employers take away the secret ballot from workers and allow a card-check election, making eventual unionization far easier.

“Unions make up the lowest percentage of the workforce today than at any time in the last century,” Vernuccio said. “But instead of transforming themselves, they’re returning to the same old tactics of intimidation and politicking.”

The recent national push called “Fight for 15” that is demanding a minimum wage of $15 an hour for fast food workers is coordinated by a worker center affiliated with the SEIU. Similarly, the protests at Wal-Mart are conducted by a worker center affiliated with the UFCW.

“These groups fall outside of the normal laws that govern labor relations,” Vernuccio explained. “They can collect membership fees, skirt financial disclosure laws, and engage in the kind of long-term protests that traditional unions cannot legally hold.”

The movement is growing, too. Vernuccio notes that published reports show just five such organizations existed 20 years ago, but now there are about 200.

“With Indiana and Michigan passing right-to-work laws in 2012, there are now two dozen states that embrace worker freedom and several others that are headed in that direction,” Vernuccio said. “Unfortunately, unions have not adapted and won’t focus on worker representation. These front groups show that it’s more about the money and power that drive unions’ special interests instead of worker representation.”

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. The largest state-based free-market think tank in the country celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.


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