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Re: [xmca] Employee Free Choice Act


What form of action do you recommend?

On Thu, Mar 26, 2009 at 9:14 AM, Worthen, Helena Harlow <
hworthen@illinois.edu> wrote:

> Hello, all --
> I don't usually do this, and I won't do it often.
> However, I've recently been having conversations with people who one might
> expect to intuitively support the Employee Free Choice Act, which is in
> Congress right now, but who are skeptical about it because of the "secret
> ballot" issue and the idea that "unions want this" -- which usually means
> that something shady is going on.
> The Employee Free Choice Act allows for majority choice (if a majority of
> employees at a workplace sign a card saying they want union representation,
> they've got it), arbitration of first contracts (meaning that if an employer
> and a union can't come to an agreement within two or three months, the
> process first goes to mediation then to arbitration, and they get a
> contract) and financial penalties against employers who retaliate against
> workers for union activity by, for example, firing and blacklisting them.
> These are all just enhancements of existing law, the 1935 National Labor
> Relations Act, which is widely -- I'd say almost universally -- defied,
> ignored, etc and which lacks teeth. Employers are by law required to bargain
> "in good faith" but if they don't -- no problem!
> The "secret ballot" issue is a very effective red herring. It appeals to
> people who understand that unions have something to do with democracy and
> "civic engagement" but don't have enough direct awareness of how severe and
> relentless employer opposition to organizing has been over the last 30
> years. The way things are now, there is no such thing as a secret ballot. In
> fact, the only protection a worker can invoke if he or she gets fired during
> a campaign is if he or she can prove that the employer was aware that he or
> she was pro-union!
> In the discourse that's out there, what you hear is that "unions" want
> EFCA. Actually, unions don't need EFCA - people without unions need it. But
> unions -- especially the AFL-CIO -- are carrying the water for it, because
> no one else can because they'll get fired, blacklisted, etc. Which is what
> EFCA is all about.
> I've recently been in some environments where good people congregate and
> I've been struck once again by how little is known by even very well-meaning
> and conscious people about work, working conditions, and the need for
> representation in the context of work. So in case someone asks you, "What is
> this EFCA thing all about, isn't it just thug unions trying to crush the
> secret ballot?" Now you know.
> Helena
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