NLRB Sues Employer, UAW at South Carolina Auto Plant

Labor unions, in theory, are supposed to support higher pay for workers. The idea of a union colluding with an employer to drive down wages doesn’t make sense. Then again, forced card-check agreements have never made sense – at least for workers reluctant to join a union. A case originating in South Carolina on the issue may have major implications for the rights of non-joining employees who may view a particular union as corrupt.


The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Friday, August 5 announced it would prosecute the United Auto Workers for unlawfully blocking a scheduled wage increase, thereby coercing Freightliner, a Portland, Ore.-based maker of trucks and other commercial vehicles, to support the union during an organizing drive at the firm’s Gaffney, S.C. plant. NLRB’s Regional Office 11, in Winston-Salem, N.C., had responded to a complaint brought forth in 2003 by attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation on behalf of two non-joining Freightliner employees, David Roach and Mike Ivey. About 70 percent of the plant’s employees had signed and submitted a petition stating a preference for negotiating directly with the company rather than being represented by the UAW.  NLRB plans to seek an order against the union and Freightliner, a subsidiary of Daimler-Chrysler, at a forthcoming August 22 trial.  


The card-check or “neutrality” agreement is one of organized labor’s more pernicious devices to exert monopoly power over workers. Sanctioned, ironically, by previous NLRB decisions, this union-employer backroom arrangement withholds wage and salary increases for non-joining employees until such workers “come around” and join the union. A victory by the dissenting workers in this case indirectly could serve as a brake against corruption. The undersigned employees, the petition states, “recognize the destructive and self-serving behavior of the UAW, and its documented role in union violence, union corruption, and plant closures caused by featherbedding and other uneconomic union work rules.” (U.S. Newswire, 8/10).