If you owned a business and someone told you that they were going to prevent your business from operating unless you met their demands, wouldn’t that be a form of extortion?
According to one dictionary, extortion is defined as:
“The obtaining of property from another induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.
Under the Common Law, extortion is a misdemeanor consisting of an unlawful taking of money by a government officer. It is an oppressive misuse of the power with which the law clothes a public officer.
Most jurisdictions have statutes governing extortion that broaden the common-law definition. Under such statutes, any person who takes money or property from another by means of illegal compulsion may be guilty of the offense. When used in this sense, extortion is synonymous with blackmail, which is extortion by a private person. In addition, under some statutes a corporation may be liable for extortion.”
Under the legal definition, when a union demands certain conditions for its members and if those demands are not met they will go on strike, shutting a business down, that amounts to extortion. Add to that mix, states that are not right-to-work states, and you have government endorsed extortion.
What is the difference between a union making demands on a business using the threat of a strike and the protection practices used by organized crime? The mob representatives tell business owners if they don’t pay a regular protection fee that something will happen to them or their business. Aren’t unions basically doing the same thing?
Now take the case of Boeing with their home base of operations being located in Seattle, Washington. Washington is not a right-to-work state. That means a person is required to join a union if that union represents workers in a specific industry, such as the Machinist Union at Boeing.
As unions have a habit of doing, the Machinist Union placed certain demands on the owners and management of Boeing. Boeing is a public company owned by shareholders and run by The Majority Shareholders and Board of Directors. The union does not own Boeing although they act as if they do.
In 2008, the Machinist Union’s demands were not met and they went on strike for 58 days until an agreement could be reached, costing the company millions of dollars. According to the legal definiton above, this amounts to extortion or blackmail, which in some areas are the same thing.
For a number of reasons, only one of which involved the union, Boeing’s management decided to build a new production plant in South Carolina. South Carolina happens to be a right-to-work state, meaning that employees do not have to join the union to work there, but can if they want to.
The Machinist Union screamed and hollered that Boeing purposely built the new plant in South Carolina because of the union and that this was unfair. Consequently, the Democratic controlled National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a complaint on behalf of the Machinist Union against Boeing, claiming that they violated the law by building the new plant in South Carolina.
Companies relocate or expand to others states all the time. States and cities often woo companies with promises of tax breaks and help with zoning and infrastructure issues all the time. There are other companies that have facilities in states with and without right-to-work laws.
With unions losing ground in some states with new laws restricting their bargaining rights, the pro-union NLRB seems determined to exert its power and force Boeing to shut down its $750 million South Carolina plant, resulting in the laying off over a thousand employees.
The Republican controlled US House of Representatives is about to pass a bill that would restrict some of the powers of the NLRB which would undermine their case against Boeing. The Senate Democrats have already said the House bill will never see the floor for consideration.
And through it all, the NLRB is claiming it has nothing to do with politics that they are just trying to uphold the law and protect the rights of workers.
This prompts me to ask several questions. The first question is what about the rights of the workers in South Carolina? What government agency other than the House Republicans, is standing up to protect their rights to work and provide for their families?
Secondly and more importantly, what is illegal about Boeing wanting to build a production plant in a right-to-work state if they want to? The Board of Directors have an obligation to the shareholders to make the company as profitable as possible and if that means building a new plant in another state that offers certain incentives, then so be it.
At one time, unions served a useful purpose in helping to improve working conditions and get basic benefits for workers. But all I’ve seen over the past forty years is the repeated extortion practices of unions that have cost both the companies and often the workers themselves. Especially in today’s horrible economy, many companies are barely surviving. Some companies have been forced out of business because they could no longer afford to meet the extortion demands of the unions. Others have had to scale back operations and layoff workers because of the high cost of union demands.
Do any of you think that this is fair or legal?
However, it should be no surprise that the Democratic Party fully supports and vows to protect the unions’ right to extort businesses. After all, they’re guilty of the same offense with the insurance mandate part of Obamacare.
The US Constitution guarantees the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Unions and states that support them are denying the constitutional right of liberty to provide for one’s family without being complicit to the illegal practice of extortion. Every person in the United States should have the right-to-work without being forced to join a union if they don’t want to.
Perhaps it’s time to take a serious look at unions and their practices. I firmly believe that unions, such as the Machinist Union and AFL-CIO among others are guilty of illegal extortion practices and need to have charges filed against them for such actions. Alternatively, let’s just do away with unions and the NLRB and see if that doesn’t help spur jobs and economy.