Union members deserve transparency, fairness


By Steve Bruns

Guest columnist

We founded Bruns General Contracting in 1981, in Tipp City, Ohio, and I have served as president since 1996. Beginning with just three employees and now one of Dayton Business Journal’s Top 100 Businesses in the Miami Valley, our property development and construction company works closely with many diverse customers and industries throughout Ohio. Many of them are union shops, characterized by long-standing efforts to fairly represent and protect their workers.

Here in Ohio, the percentage of unionized Ohio workers has risen from 13% in 2021 to 14% last year, adding more than 52,000 Ohioans to the nearly 650,000 that already work in unionized shops. A flagging local economy is likely just one reason workers are seeking new conversations about compensation, benefits, and working conditions. I am 100% committed to the idea that workers have the right to join a union if, they believe it is in their best interest — and to decline to join a union if they believe it is not.

Unfortunately, some of the organizing tactics endorsed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) undermine the fairness and transparency that so many union members expect and deserve. One of these tactics is the use of so-called “Neutrality Agreements,” which undermine the rights of Americans to work without joining a union. These agreements are actual contracts that pressure non-union employers to stay silent while their workers are recruited. They may even prohibit employers from providing facts that correct false union statements. Employees and their families are unable to get the information they need for a balanced decision.

Our Ohio workers and their families could potentially benefit from legal and respectful union organizing campaigns lack transparency and fairness. The transparency is critical, especially when union reps relentlessly promise benefits such as free healthcare, loans, and other benefits that they have no actual authority to provide.

Ohio’s unions serve a valuable role in helping our state’s workers advance both career and personal goals, but they need to offer their help with complete transparency and fairness. Neutrality agreements carelessly violate the right of both employers and workers to make fully informed representational choices, to learn all the facts about a union, and to participate in an independently supervised election. These are rights upheld by the Supreme Court more than 80 years ago and ratified by Congress in the 1947 Taft- Hartley Act. Our non-union employers and workers deserve the right to make fully informed decisions for their workplace.

Organized unions and its members here in Ohio long have recognized that working Americans hold basic legal rights to safe, healthy, and fair work conditions. Across this state and country, they defend members against discrimination, wage disputes, unlawful termination, and worker’s compensation.

Unions will always be a valued and important part of Ohio’s workforce and economy. To meet the resurging trends of a current and new labor generation, though, they need to improve transparency in their organizing campaigns and eliminate the use of unfair neutrality agreements. I certainly expect that Senator J.D. Vance will work in the U.S. Senate to ensure the rights of both employers and workers by preventing these undemocratic tactics.

The writer is the president of Bruns General Contracting and the principal of Bruns Realty Group.

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