Recent surveys separately commissioned by the AFL-CIO and by the Employment Law Alliance, a group of law firms that counsel management clients, find that a majority of non-union workers favor unions in their workplaces and support more union organizing. The AFL-CIO asserts that 50% presently say they would vote for a union, compared with 42% last year. Those who would vote against a union dropped from 51% to 43%. The Employment Law Alliance poll was not directed to non-union workers but rather to a randomly selected group of 1,000 Americans, who were asked whom they trust to help boost the economy and repair the image of corporate America. Fifty-nine percent of the respondents say that they support union organizing in more companies to assure that workers are better protected, and 75% say the government needs to be more aggressive in its oversight of businesses and that new laws are needed to prevent corporate abuses.
In the continuing controversy regarding union solicitation of employees of retail stores, the 6th Circuit has recently ruled that Albertson's did not discriminate when it barred representatives of the United Food and Commercial Workers ("UFCW") from entering the interior and immediate exterior of the stores in line with its no-solicitation policy. Evidence that Albertson's allowed solicitation by the Salvation Army, various youth and school groups, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled American Veterans did not defeat its ban on union solicitation when the company did not allow solicitation by any political groups, charitable groups unfamiliar to the community, or non-charities. A three-member panel of the NLRB had ruled that the company discriminated against unions because it regularly allowed non-union organizations to solicit on its premises, but the 6th Circuit disagreed with the Board's characterization of "discrimination."
The 3d Circuit has approved an NLRB decision setting standards for videotaping employees during a union election campaign for the purpose of appearance in an anti-union video. Allegheny Ludlum was found to have attempted what amounted to an illegal poll of its employees' views regarding the Steelworkers Union. A number of employees had requested not to be filmed and some had left the area when videotaping was in progress. All employees were required to watch the completed video during work hours in the course of the campaign. The Court approved five broad and restrictive rules announced by the NLRB in holding that the Allegheny Ludlum election would be set aside. Under the NLRB standard, any "coercive conduct" is prohibited. Employees must consent to participation, and "the solicitation is to be made through a general announcement disclosing the purpose of the filming along with assurances that participation will not be rewarded and nonparticipation will not be punished."
The NLRB finds it was not unlawful for a supervisor for a department store chain to state during an organizing campaign that the store was not making a profit and might have to close if it had to pay higher wages. Reflecting a more conservative NLRB approach by its Republican majority, the statement was found not to be an unfair labor practice but rather a "lawful prediction of potential consequences of unionization."
Organizing efforts by AFL-CIO unions in health care, retail, and manufacturing were reviewed at the August meeting of the AFL-CIO Executive Council. In health care, Andrew Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union, asserted that unions could not win by organizing one hospital at a time, but should go after a group of hospitals in a metropolitan area or after a national chain in a particular market. In retailing, Doug Dority, President of the UFCW, sought the assistance of other unions in carrying the "union message" to Wal-Mart stores. The UFCW is trying to organize employees of Wal-Mart, characterized as the largest retailer, employer and corporation in the United States. In manufacturing, the United Auto Workers reviewed its organizing drive at Johnson Controls, which grew out of a pledge of neutrality and card check recognition following a brief strike disrupting customer plants that depended upon just-in-time deliveries. AFL-CIO Organizing Director Mark Splain calls it the "most significant organizing victory in 2002." The drive to represent all 8,000 Johnson Controls employees continues. Eight other sectors targeted for organizing are (1) transportation (including airlines and maritime trades); (2) communications; (3) utilities; (4) finance; (5) construction; (6) government and postal services; (7) services and entertainment; and (8) investment and real estate.