November 24, 2008

The Sudden Intrest in Workers’ Rights

There’s been a lot of talk in the media of late, brought on by a big push with advertising from the Bush Administration and the GOP, of the Employee Free Choice Act ending secret ballot union elections. The GOP would have you believe that EFCA destroys workers rights, and subjects them to pro-Union intimidation.

The fact is that these claims are bunk.

As Ezra points out what the EFCA does is give the workers more rights, and doesn’t alter the the rights/powers of union leaders. Right now when it comes to the period before a union is formed, all of the power rests in the hands of management.

As Think Progress notes:

– 92% of employers whose workers try to organize force workers to attend anti-union meetings and workers are disciplined or fired for leaving.
– 78% of employers force employees to meet with their supervisor to be interrogated about whether they want a union and asked to reveal which co-workers are union supporters.
– 75% of employers hire union-busting consultants to advise them on how to run an effective anti-union campaign.
– 51% of employers threaten to close the plant if workers vote for the union.
– 25% of employers actually FIRE at least one worker for supporting the union, even though it is against the law.

Standing with workers means supporting the EFCA. If 30% of the membership wants a secret ballot, they get one. What EFCA effectively does is allow workers to bypass the long process of forming a union that management needs to recognize in a CBA. The way it will work is easy: 50% of the employees will want a union, and the NLRB will allow them to hold a card-check election, which in this case is basically an absentee election. Those who do not want their vote known publicly, could mail the cards to the NLRB. What’s more a union can be dissolved instantly through the same process.

The need for the EFCA is to balance the extreme power that employers have over employees considering a union from punishment shifts, mandatory no meetings, and the stats mentioned above. Though there could be scenarios where workers will pressure each other the amount of pressure being exerted will still be less than the power management has. Not passing the EFCA is akin to allowing one party to spend money in an election to win votes, and the other party to sit inside all day and hope people remember them.

That this is the first time the GOP has pretended to care about the rights of employees seeking to unionize should be cause enough for viewing their motives as suspect.

Tags: , , — Gary Nuzzi @ 3:22 pm | Comments (1)

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