Big Unions Cut Secret Deals With Employers
Confidential pacts speed organizing, but raise rights questions
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2008 6:25 AM CDT
In this photo released by SEIU, Brian Alexander, 6 months, joins janitors and supporters during a Justice for Janitors rally as they march for better wages and access to affordable health care.   (AP Photo/SEIU, Susan Goldman)
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(Newser) – Two of America's biggest unions have made secret deals with major employers that let the companies choose where workers can organize and how many of them can do so, the Wall Street Journal reports. The unions, SEIU and Unite Here, say the confidential agreements have gotten more workers into unions, and they defend not letting their members know about them.

The deals affect 1.7 million workers who provide outsourced food, laundry and housekeeping services. Trade-offs where employers drop opposition to unions in return for the unions accepting restrictions—called neutrality agreements—have become more common as a strategy to avoid conflict in growing industries. But labor experts say the SEIU and Unite Here deals raise tough questions about transparency and workers' rights.