Gould essay shows bias for forcing workers to pay unions

cartoon-unions-poliiticiansALRB Chairman William B. Gould has created the appearance of impropriety in his public statements about unions, inflicting further damage on his agency’s reputation.

He now argues that workers should be forced to pay dues to unions – against their will – in order to save what he calls a “declining labor movement.” He admits to partisan political motivations.

Gould has been strangely silent about the controversies swirling around the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board’s bias toward the United Farm Workers (UFW). By law, the ALRB must advocate for farmworkers in an even-handed fashion, showing no bias either for or against employers or unions.

However, Gould has been outspoken elsewhere about the need to unionize, showing his clear bias toward unions and lending the appearance that he is biased toward the UFW as part of his official duties as ALRB chair.

In December, Gould told the International Business Times that he thought that all rideshare drivers for services like Lyft and Uber should be unionized. He refused to speak to reporters about whether he thought all farmworkers should be unionized.

Gould wrote a pro-union opinion piece in the April 1 Los Angeles Daily Journal, an expensive subscription-only publication. In that piece, titled “What’s next for unions after Friedrichs tie?” the ALRB chairman supported a deadlocked US Supreme Court decision that forces non-union members to pay dues to unions.

In Gould’s words, the tie vote upholds “the lawfulness of agency shop agreements which require non-member employees to pay dues to the union with represents them.”

This is precisely what Gould is trying to force on farmworkers who do not want to be represented by the UFW, even when the workers vote on decertifying a union that had abandoned them for nearly two decades. Gould is working to destroy the ballots that 2,600 Gerawan farmworkers cast in 2013 to de-certify the UFW. The ALRB supervised the vote, but has kept the ballots – uncounted – locked in an ALRB safe.

Gould appears to believe that workers who are critical of a union that represents them are therefore against all unions. He calls them “anti-union dissidents,” and says disapprovingly that such dissidents say that being forced to pay union dues against their will “interferes with their right of free speech and association protected by the 1st Amendment of the Constitution.”

He justifies forcing people to pay part of their salaries to unions against their will by saying that a union “is obliged to represent all fairly.” If workers were not forced to pay money to unions, they would be creating “an incentive [for others] to leave the union,” he writes, as if that were a bad thing.

Gould acknowledges that most workers don’t want to join unions

Gould admitted in a January speech that agricultural workers don’t want to join unions any more, and that UFW organizing “has completely disappeared.”

In his LA Daily Journal essay, Gould says that compulsory union dues have “been a vital source of growth in an otherwise declining labor movement.”

Therefore, he is on the record as saying that mandatory union contracts – the exact type of contract the ALRB has been trying to force on Gerawan workers and employers – is “vital” to rescuing “an otherwise declining labor movement.”

This bias shows that he is unfit to serve as ALRB Chairman, since the ALRB is required under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act to be “impartial.”

Gould also shows how politically partisan he really is. Unions, financed by compulsory dues from workers who don’t even want to be members, are important sources of political strength for his favorite political party. In his words, “Public sector unions have already lost members in Wisconsin and Michigan – and this means that support for the Democratic Party and other causes that the labor movement promotes will be weakened.

Which is why he is trying so hard to prevent the Gerawan workers’ ballots from being counted. If Gould and his colleagues on the ALRB succeed in forcing Gerawan workers into a UFW contract, he will be injecting the UFW with millions of dollars a year – literally doubling the declining union’s annual payroll budget.

Gould concludes by praising what he calls the new “arrangement between Gov. Jerry Brown and the labor movement” to raise the minimum wage to $15 by the year 2022. In so doing, he ignores the inconvenient truth that the graduated minimum wage rate won’t reach $11 an hour until 2018, when non-union workers at Gerawan have been earning an entry-level base pay of at least that much since 2014.

The ALRB chairman’s essay confirms suspicions that the whole fight to prevent the workers’ ballots from being counted is really a fight to inject cash into a union that mobilizes a political party and causes unrelated to farmworkers’ rights.

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