A group called the Economic Policy Institute is touting a paper by Cornell professor Kate Bronfenbrenner who claims to be investigating anti-union forces that she says are growing in intensity, boldness, and power. Bronfenbrenner writes that between 1999 and 2003 employer resistance to union organizing has increased causing unionizing efforts to fail despite what she claims is an increase in the public’s desire to see more union success. But it seems that there are some problems with her methodology: she never talked to anyone but disgruntled union organizers to gather her material.
Bronfenbrenner is concerned that there is mounting efforts in the business community to oppose union organizing and sets out to prove her theory. She investigates several unionizing efforts that failed and compiles some stats on such efforts. But, her facts are self-fulfilling her premise in that the percentage of failed union attempts seem to be higher than the average for National Labor Relations Board elections during the targeted years of study. (This according to Union Free America)
On top of that, all her quotes and stats seem to be from labor union activists that failed to succeed in unionizing their places of work. Bronfenbrenner even concedes that her conclusions are drawn only from one side of the issue. In her methodology section the professor says, “Some critics have raised questions as to the reliability of union organizers as a data source.” In answer to that, she pleads that there isn’t enough solid information by which to reckon but goes on to say that she feels she is right in her conclusions anyway. It’s the “yeah, but” defense I guess. As in well, we don’t have any real data, yeah, but we are right, anyway.
Amusingly, she even insists that talking to employers about the issue is “simply not possible” because they are “illogical,” and can’t be believed. Amazingly, as Bronfenbrenner discounts any possibility that the employer can be believed, she takes as gospel the words of disgruntled, failed union organizers and bases her whole report on same.
One wonders if anyone would imagine a failed union organizer to have an unbiased opinion upon which a “scientific” conclusion could be drawn? Apparently Bronfenbrenner does.
Also the Economic Policy Institute as well as American Rights At Work, both sponsors of Bronfenbrenner’s study, are supported by the nation’s largest labor unions both receiving millions of dollars a year from them. So, the study cherry picks data favorable to unions and is sponsored by union backed organizations. Unsurprisingly, the study ends up supporting and pushing the labor union agenda.
Doubtless this slanted study will be source material for anti-business forces soon. Few that use this report to buttress their anti-capitalist position, though, will reveal the big labor backers of the thing, to be sure.