The Center was requested to testify before the Subcommittee on Workforce, Empowerment & Government Programs of the Committee on Small Business regarding the egregious union practice of fomenting employment unrest through clandestine salting programs. The programs allow unions to place members in nonunion companies to foment unrest and their discharge, allowing the National Labor Relations Board to impose tremendous backpay awards to force the capitulation of the challenged employer’s business.
The Center’s testimony showed that union salting practices undermined government credibility and harmed worker and employer interests.
Center on National Labor Policy’s Michael Avakian’s Opening Statement Before the Committee:
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL AVAKIAN, GENERAL COUNSEL, CENTER ON NATIONAL LABOR POLICY, INC.
Mr. Avakian. Thank you, Madam Chairman. I am going to provide some summary comments based upon the testimony that I have already submitted, that statement, that is, As general counsel for the Center on National Labor Policy, which is a nonprofit legal foundation, I take a different type of view on legislation because we had a request to testify, and based upon about 30 years of experience in the labor relations field, including representing small businesses and employees in the entire area of law, we have found that many of the problems dealing with salting that the bill that is pending before the House right now is intending to answer goes directly to the heart of a problem that began with the Town and Country decision, which we all can admit that the labor act now is said to provide protections to union organizers who enter the workforce through surreptitious means, maybe through regular means as well, but get into the workforce and start to do organizing.
I would observe, first, that the issues dealing with this problem are focused primarily in the construction industry because within the construction industry there is an exception for organizing without an employee vote. Section 8[f] of the labor act permits employees, or employers and labor organizations in the construction industry to enter into collective bargaining agreements notwithstanding the wishes of the employees.
Now, having said that, the way we have heard the unions and labor organizations are attempting to organize is by getting into the workplace and organizing workers. Well, that sounds like a correct approach to begin with, but the case law does not bear it out. What happens with these persons that enter the workplace either through normal means, a hiring procedure, or through a surreptitious means, which Ms. Drummond just outlined, which could be applications that are incomplete.
I have had cases where–in representing small employers–the applications are actually filled out in advance by union organizers, submitted with references, omissions and so forth, which are incomplete and inaccurate, but still those lead to NLRB proceedings that require the small employer to vindicate and show that these people just are not credible in their application process.
Retirees are submitting applications. If they take a job, they lose their union retirement. So it does not make sense that a lot of people who are trying to become salts do become salt, or will become effective workers.
Upon entering the workplace, what do we see? Do we see effective, good, skilled workmanship, helping the employer and all the employees to have a successful business where they all can take away from the hard work that they accomplish with continued jobs, and growth in the business?
No, we do not see that. We do not see the focus being on organizing other employees. The focus is on doing things to trip up the employer who is probably not as–especially in small business, is not as adept and knowledgeable of labor laws, to engage in unfair labor practice activity.
The end result is, in the cases I have been involved with, which have been numerous, and you could easily request information from the National Labor Relations Board, is how many of these types of cases get settled, and what do those settlements look like?
They are basically payoffs. The union organizer agrees, okay, I will stop doing it if you give me a cash money, or I will agree to leave the company if you give me $5,000. They are essentially extortion payments which end up as part of the problem with this particular type of salting.
If it could be, as Mr. Cohen indicated, purely an effort to organize workers, focused on activities of demonstrating the benefits of collective bargaining before work, after work, on lunch breaks, and on other breaks, that would be one thing. But the activities are focused on activities intending to put economic pressure on the employer to sign the workers over to the labor organization, and then collect dues and other things from the employees.
So that has been our experience, and I think if you were to take a look at the case law and just on its face just look at the fact patterns that have occurred, and how the labor board has split hairs and said, okay, the salters are allegedly engaged in section 7 activity, which is protected activity, but the burden of proof is now on the employer to show and demonstrate clear business reasons why they took certain actions.
The labor board council has a tendency to overlook certain aspects of litigation. One is the statute, section 10[b], says the Federal Rules of Evidence should apply to do these types of hearings, NLRB hearings.
One of the rules, 201[c] under the rules of evidence, says that persons cannot get paid for their testimony. If they are getting paid for their testimony, then their testimony is not going to be admitted.
Well, these salts are getting paid for testimony. They are actually getting paid for testimony, or developing fact patterns that they will then testify before the labor board on.
There are also cases where employees are actually getting paid and receive payments, and one of the cases is Brandt Construction Company, which is cited in my statement, in which some of the salters–