Over the weekend, the SEIU was hard at work preparing for an all-out assault on employers everywhere. The SEIU is preparing for an organizing and public relations campaign called, “Fight for a Fair Economy.” SEIU’s campaign will spend millions of union member dues to fight resentment of public-sector employees and recruit new members. The reported campaign efforts are to “build to strikes where possible” to pressure employers during organizing and bargaining, push the NLRB to cut the time frame for union elections down to 10 days, and recruit new members in non-unionized industries.
If the goal of “Fight for a Fair Economy” is to lessen the resentment toward public sector employees and change the environment of unions, this is not an effective strategy. Taxpayers will not find greater sympathy for overcompensated government workers who will strike to put pressure on negotiations for unsustainable contracts. Furthermore, “Fight for a Fair Economy” is quite a misnomer. Is it fair for employers and employees to have only 10 days to decide their vote to unionize or not? Clearly, union officials do not want potential union members to be well-informed before elections. Taxpayer bitterness toward government workers will only decrease when union officials recognize that their members need to contribute to their retirement and renegotiate their unsustainable contracts.
In their effort to recruit new members, union officials are also on the wrong track. Ideally, future members would want less of their union’s dues to be spent on influencing politics and public relations campaigns. Considering the “Fight for a Fair Economy” will cost union members tens of millions of dollars, this will not happen. Instead, possible union members would be supporting the status quo: their dues going to strike funds and health care benefit funds, which currently are underfunded.
Future members should be wary of the tactics from union officials. Union officials are unwilling to compromise in negotiating new contracts for government workers, even though local and state governments have huge deficits, and their union members have faced layoffs. Would an employee rather take a pay cut and contribute to their retirement or lose their job?
A quote from an SEIU memo on the “Fight for a Fair Economy” campaign,
“We can’t spark an organizing surge without changing the environment, so that workers see unions not as self-interested institutions but as vehicles through which they can collectively stand up for a more fair economy”
The union officials’ strategy to change the perception of unions can only be done through action. So far they have failed on this front. Spending millions of dollars on a public relations campaign will not change the public’s view of unions as “self-interested institutions.”