The Republicans have declared all out war against the middle class, working men and women and the labor unions that created the middle class with so-called “right to work laws.”
The good news is both the U.S. Congress and the Michigan House are fighting to protect the fast-disappearing middle class with some new legislation. In March the U.S. House passed HR 800, the Employee Free Choice Act, that 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 will allow employees at a worksite who want a union to simply sign a card clearly indicating support for a union, stiffen penalties for employers who fire union organizers and sympathizers and it addresses companies who simply refusing to bargain in good faith.
On the state level, the House passed House Bill 4316, known as the “Worker Freedom Act” sponsored by Representative Mark Meadows, D-Lansing. The bill would prohibit employers from making workers attend mandatory meetings where employers have a captive audience to put out negative and anti-union information. The bill passed by a 56-49 vote on July 18, 2007 and is currently in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.
When workers band together for fair wages, workplace safety and protection against unfair labor practices, the pressure to break any pro-union move is intense, complete with intimidation and violence on occasion. Union organizers must meet with workers after working hours away from the plant or shop, and often the only initial contact they have with workers to make their case is when workers are speeding out of the employee parking lot and organizers try and pass a flyer or other info to the employee. Management does not have that problem.
Often, companies hire anti-union, union-busting consultants as part of expensive union –busting campaigns where workers are subjected to anti-union propaganda and mis-information at mandatory group meetings. Employees are also subjected to threats of dismissal and intimidation at mandatory, one-on-one, closed-door meetings.
According to the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency,
A study of more than 400 union representation election campaigns, found that during 92 percent of union organizing drives, employers forced their employees to attend closed-door anti-union meetings. In addition, 78 percent of employers directed supervisors to deliver anti-union messages to employees in one-on-one meetings.
This bill will prohibit that unfair practice. However, the bill has an uphill battle in the Senate, but perhaps some pressure from voters will force them to act responsibly and bring this to a vote. I’m sure a large number of Republican Senators benefited from the concessions won by unions over the years.