Mar 1, 2007

Congress approves the Employee Free Choice Act

A very important piece of legislation for the dignity, protection and safety of workers is being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives.

HR 800, the Employee Free Choice Act, would allow workers to organize a union free of an employer’s intimidation, free from fear of being fired and free from retaliation. The bill was introduced by U.S. George Miller, D-CA, on Feb. 5, and it has bipartisan support with 233 co-sponsors.

The bill would allow employees at a worksite who want a union to simply sign a card clearly indicating support for a union, and the company is required to recognize the union. Under the current law, if the threats and actual firings and intimidation don’t work and the majority of the workers sign up for the union anyway the company can simply veto that decision and call for an election. Then the real intimidation begins, and the organizers are fired. According to a pro-union group called Change to Win, more than a quarter of companies going through the union certification process illegally fire pro-union workers and, 34 percent of U.S. companies coerce workers into opposing the union with bribes and favoritism.

The EFCA also addresses companies simply refusing to bargain in good faith and dragging their feet until workers must come back to work or take what ever is offered or starve. If the company and union are not able to reach agreement within 90 days, either party may ask the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) to step in. If after 30 days of mediation the FMCS cannot resolve the dispute, it gets referred to an arbitrator whose ruling is binding for two years.

The EFCA also protects those workers who were targeted by anti-union employers who fire them for union activities. There are currently no consequences for a company who illegally fires an employee who supports the union. The new law will require the National Labor Relations Board to take legal action to immediately reinstate workers fired for union activity. Companies that punish or fire employees for lawful union activity would have to pay triple damages.

Unions are just as important now as they were when unions first began organizing workers under the threat of death and injury. Unions are not just about wages. It’s about better benefits, a safe working environment, unfair labor practices and better training for the workers to name just a few. Every single worker in the U.S. benefits from the safety wages, safety measures and benefits that were hard won by unions.

Michigan has a rich history in labor, and some of the most important battles in union history have been waged here. Some of those examples are the Battle of the Overpass in Dearborn in May of l937, the Flint Sit-Down Strike in 1936 and the bloody battle to organize the Republic Steel plant in Monroe in 1935.

Call your U.S. Representative in Congress and tell them to vote for the Employee Free Choice Act.

UPDATE: Today the House passed the bill by a vote of 228-183. A great victory for workers everywhere.


dwhitey said...

there was a day for unions, and they did their job. now they are just a greed, fat, lazy solution for those high in the union who want to graze on what little the blue collar worker has. if you are for democracy, (as the democtratic pary was based on) then you should not be for unions, as they do not know the meaning of this word. they use words like strong-arm, picket and strike. i am completely oppossed to ceo's making as much money as they do, and unfair unjust wages, but unions are past the prime so far it is silly. instead of calling it employee free choice, it should be called the strong-arming act. what happened to democrats being for small governement and in support of business? i can't even begin to tell you how socially, politically and morally wrong this whole senario is.

Communications guru said...

I could not disagree with you more, Mr. Whitey. Unions are needed more than ever. I have personally seen workers with years of experience fired for no reason, workers treated unfairly and workers cheated out of pay they earned. Non-union workers have little or no recourse if that happens. There is a race to the bottom in this country with wages, and if we win we lose. The middle class is disappearing just like union membership is. If unions are so bad for workers, why is there such an assault on them by management and government? The only difference today is they are more subtle attacks that bashing in people’s heads.

Yes, I am for democracy. Can you tell me what’s more democratic than a group of workers organizing together to be able to stand up to large, rich and powerful companies to petition for fair wages, safe working conditions and due process? Me neither.

Yes, unions use words like picket and strike, but strong arm is a word management and strikebreaking goons use and used against unions.

The money CEO’s are making is obscene. In 1965 the average CEO was earning 24 times what the average worker was making. But in 2005, the average CEO was making 262 times what the average worker is making. The CEO of Home Depot made $38 million, or roughly $100,000 a day, in 2005, but the average worker who is selling the product and is the public face of the company is making just $10 an hour on average with few if any benefits. Unions are past their prime? That’s simply not true.

The Employee Free Choice Act simply takes away one common roadblock that management uses to thwart the will of the workers to organize. I have no idea where you got the idea that Democrats are for small government and in support of business, and although we support that, these things are primarily Republican issues.

Why don’t you try to tell me how “socially, politically and morally wrong this whole senario (sic) is” because it meets none of that criteria.

Anonymous said...

Guru, you just described Cuba.

Just move there.

Communications guru said...

How is that? Great debate and great job refuting what I wrote, though. I guess when you can't refute facts you stoop to name-calling. You sure got that down.

liberals Hate America said...

Yes, I am for democracy. Can you tell me what’s more democratic than a group of workers organizing together to be able to stand up to large, rich and powerful companies to petition for fair wages, safe working conditions and due process? Me neither.

If you are for democracy as you state above then why not have a vote?

Communications guru said...

We already have a vote by signing the cards. The employers are the ones who call for a vote after he loses on the first ballot. During the weeks it takes to set up the election, management can launch a devastating campaign to thwart workers' choice. Employers say they are just telling employees the downsides of organizing. But they go way beyond that point, hauling workers into mandatory meetings and threatening to shutter the workplace or to permanently replace workers who exercise the right to strike.
While the employer can use that time to harasses workers in mandatory meetings, firing or threatening organizers and management has unlimited power to hold captive-audience meetings where they can legally "predict" workplace closure, as long as they don't illegally "threaten" it (a Supreme Court decision created the distinction, though many understandably have trouble differentiating between the two).