Back in February, I scribed about the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800, S. 1041), a bill aimed at making it easier for American workers to come together to form unions. Among other things, the Employee Free Choice Act would:
–strengthen legal penalties against union-busting employers;
–require mediation and arbitration to help employers and their newly organizing employees reach a first contract in a reasonable period of time; and
–allow workers to form a union through a “majority sign-up,” a simple process in which workers present signed authorization cards as demonstration of their choice to belong to a union.
Right now the Act is under debate in the Senate, and although it enjoys a bipartisan coalition of support, it’s still not expected to pass. That’s a shame, because the current system for forming unions and bargaining is broken. According to the the AFL-CIO:
“Every day, corporations deny workers the freedom to decide for themselves whether to form unions to bargain for a better life. They routinely intimidate, harass, coerce and even fire workers who try to form unions and bargain for economic well-being.”
That’s a shameful state of affairs. Still, even if stopped in the Senate, watch for the Employee Free Choice Act to become a hot issue during Election 2008. For one thing, the AFL-CIO is putting its weight behind the issue to get the word out that the Act is a win-win situation for American workers and businesses (check out AFL-CIO’s detailed Employee Free Choice Act information page).
Another labor organization giving its full support to the bill is American Rights at Work (they have their own Employee Free Choice Act page here). Moreover, the organization holds that opponents of the Act, with strong ties to Wall Street, are seeking to further weaken the right of American workers to form unions by promulgating misleading and falsely alarming information regarding EFCA. According to executive director Mary Beth Maxwell:
“Pluck a few feathers and you’ll discover that the true motivation of Employee Free Choice Act detractors is eradicating unions—not defending workers and democracy as they claim. The newly formed Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), a front-group created and financed by deep-pocketed industry groups, claims to represent ‘rank-and-file workers from across the country’ who oppose the bill. But no workers are named as members on the coalition’s website among the deep-pocketed anti-union employer groups. Among CDW’s members are groups led by conservative strategist Grover Norquist, who has publicly proclaimed his mission to ‘crush labor unions as a political entity’ and ultimately, ‘break the unions’.”
I find that type of bait-and-switch lobbying truly frightening, how about you? Speaking of you, visit the above websites and decide for yourself whether the Employee Free Choice Act is the best cure for what ails labor organizing in America. Personally, I think it’s a great start.
Michael Thaddeus Doyle
I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.