A study [PDF] came out yesterday (perhaps a few months too late) that puts the lie to conservative claims that majority sign-up, the union organizing technique that would become standard under the Employee Free Choice Act, leads to increased union intimidation. The study is from Illinois, where state labor law allows government employees to use majority sign-up to organize public-sector unions, and it found that in the course of organizing some 22,000 workers in a variety of different occupations over six years, there was only one complaint of intimidation, which was dismissed for lack of evidence. Perhaps the most interesting finding is this:

It is important to note that even in cases where an MIP petition did not end up with an MIP order of certification, union coercion was nonexistent. In no case was a petition withdrawn or dismissed because of union coercion. Over half of the petitions that were withdrawn were done so because the union was unable to show a majority interest. Petitions were mostly dismissed because the “union failed to show that it sought an appropriate bargaining unit.” Additionally, in a few cases, MIP were converted to representation elections because another union intervened and also petitioned to be the bargaining agent. Again in no case was any union intimidation evident.

That is, even when organizers couldn't gain enough support to succeed, there were no reports of intimidation. While it's worth noting that this study was partially funded by the AFL-CIO, I haven't seen any empirical evidence that union intimidation is common from the business community. In fact, let me put out a call -- if anyone has any evidence to support the Chimera-like claims of conservatives on the issue of union intimidation, do throw a link in the comments.

-- Tim Fernholz

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