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Checking The Unions

Publication Date: 
January 28, 2009
Asbury Park Press
Michael L. Diamond

Professor William B. Gould IV is quoted in the Asbury Park Press in an article that discusses labor union efforts to make joining the union easier by way of new legislation:

Unions say the delay has become commonplace. They are focusing on the federal Employee Free Choice Act to make it easier to join a union, create stiff penalties for employers that violate the law and end the long decline in union membership.

the bill has sparked intense opposition from business groups that say it would upend 70 years of labor law in favor of a system that is downright undemocratic. But with President Barack Obama, a Democrat, now in office, the legislation's chances have been revived.

"It has the potential for reenergizing the labor movement in a way that has not been reenergized since the 1930s," said William B. Gould, a professor at Stanford Law School and former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board.


Gould, a Long Branch native who now teaches at Stanford, said union membership has declined not because of the rules governing elections, but because companies operating in a global economy need flexibility that union work rules often don't allow. Unions have failed to adapt.

Obama's promise to listen to both sides of an argument could spell trouble for the card-check system. But the other provisions designed to ensure employers play by the rules could have an impact, Gould said.

"The legislation, if it's seriously enforced, can only help the unions," Gould said.