…but to our friends, the leaders in every level of government who aren’t afraid to stand up for workers, well we want them to know that so long as they stand with working people the American labor movement will always, and I mean always stand with them. [applause]
And then there’s that other group. Those fair weather friends who can’t seem to decide, quite frankly, which side they’re on. I’m talkin’ about politicians who love to have our help come election time. They love to see us makin’ those door knocks, those telephone calls and passin’ stuff out on their behalf, and tellin’ all our members how they ought to jump up and down and vote for them. But then they seem to forget about us after the votes are counted. Now you know who I mean. They’ve been in the news a lot lately. They’re the ones who say that they’re all for health care reform so long as it doesn’t offend the insurance companies and the drug companies. They get those big contributions from both and then they pretend this is somehow about principle, that they just happen to be defendin’ those big companies.
They’re the same people who say that the way to pay for health care isn’t to tax the rich, it’s to tax our health care benefits. They’re the ones who lack the guts to tell the truth. That the only way that we’re ever gonna get a handle on the health care crisis is by creating a public system that puts people before profits, not the other way around. [applause]
Well…, we need to send them a special message. That is, you may have forgotten what labor, the labor movement did for you when you got elected, but, by God, we’re not gonna forget. And if you stab us in the back on the Employee Free Choice Act and health care and a bunch of other things don’t you dare, don’t you dare ask for our support next year, whenever you’re running. [applause] We need people who stand up for workers. [applause]….
Are you listening, Claire? You got to dance with them what brung you.
…Last June, the 230 workers at nine newspapers voted for representation by the California Media Workers Guild, which was working with CWA in a “One Big Bang” campaign. Just two weeks later, 29 workers were fired, two-thirds of them union supporters. Steffens, an award-winning reporter at the Contra Costa Times, was among them.
Management claimed layoffs “weren’t based on seniority or merit or skills, that they were just taking positions that they didn’t need or couldn’t afford anymore,” Steffens said. No one who opposed union representation was let go.
The regional National Labor Relations Board sided with MediaNews, claiming there was no proof that the company had targeted union supporters. The case has been appealed to the NLRB in Washington, D.C.
The company clearly knew who the union activists were, and was pretty sure how most people were voting, Steffens said. The captive audience meetings gave managers plenty of clues and they demanded information from lower-level editors.
That makes the claims of Employee Free Choice Act opponents that unions want to take away secret ballot elections especially galling, Steffens said. “That just kills me, the idea that all these companies are trying to protect our rights,” she said. “We had a manager who admitted that he was being asked for daily counts of where everyone he supervised stood. How is that a secret ballot?…”
And how many instances of that over the last, say, seventy years? As opposed to employer coercion? Sean McGarvey, Secretary-Treasurer Building and Construction Trades Department AFL-CIO:
…The Employee Free Choice Act doesn’t take away secret ballots [voice: “Right!”] Doesn’t intimidate anybody. [voice: “Right!”] Stewart Acuff, who is a friend of Teresa [Hensley] and her husband [Kenny Hensley], husband’s college buddy, is the organizing director for the AFL-CIO. And when you hear people talk about union thugs intimidating people in organizing drives in order to get them to sign cards [voice: “Liars!”] [laughter] It’s worse than that. [laughter] They have no idea how an organizing drive works. Organizers don’t all of a sudden arrive at a door and decide to organize a company. It’s the employees of that company that decide that they’re not likin’ the way things are goin’ and they want to have an opportunity to come together and collectively bargain instead of collectively beg with their boss. And they reach out, then activists inside that company reach out for the union and ask for assistance. And that’s what we lend. Technical assistance. Money and expertise. There’s no intimidation.
And as Stewart said on Fox News, I told Teresa, and don’t quote me on the exact number, but since 1937 there have been a hundred and thirty cases of documented intimidation by an organizer in a union drive having to do with having workers sign up for the union. In seventy some years. Last year there were thirty thousand cases of employer intimidation in organizing drives. [applause] In one year…[applause]
So, where does Roy Blunt’s point of view come from?:
…some of the legislation’s chief opponents in Congress have received millions upon millions of dollars from business interests over the course of their careers, and only a pittance from labor. This includes the top ranks of the Republican Party.
After the Employee Free Choice Act was introduced on Tuesday, Danny Diaz, a Republican operative working against the legislation’s passage, sent to reporters a compilation of quotes attacking the union-backed measure. Below are the names of the officials quoted with a list of the amount of money they’ve received from business and labor political action committees…
…To be sure, not all business groups are actively engaged in the EFCA fight. Some, though relatively few, are comfortable with the legislation’s passage. Moreover, there is a far deeper pool of business PACs willing to donate to politicians than labor ones. But this line of attack only adds to the notion that the business community is bringing more financial clout to the fight. Indeed, the Chamber of Commerce — the leading force behind killing EFCA in Congress — spent more on lobbying in 2008 than all labor unions combined…
Sean McGarvey, Secretary-Treasurer Building and Construction Trades Department AFL-CIO, was the keynote speaker last night at the annual Cass County Democrats’ “Back to Blue” dinner in Belton, Missouri.
…When they asked me to come out and speak to the Cass County Democrats I asked, “Who were the Cass County Democrats?” [laughter] And they said, “They’re the Democrats that win elections,” so anytime I get to come and spend time with Democrats that win elections I enjoy it.
And as Teresa [Hensley, Cass County Prosecutor] said, I’m very involved in government affairs, political affairs, and legislative affairs both with the Painters and with the Building and Construction Trades Department. And have been workin’ in the field nationally for about fifteen years. If you go back to, do the math backwards fifteen years ago was 1994. And all of us in this room can remember 1994 wasn’t a very good year for Democrats. And it began a very very tough time for the labor movement.
And it isn’t often, or in my mind it isn’t often enough that the Democratic Party, whether a county, a state, or nationally, recognizes the contributions of the labor movement, in particular for me, the building trades. So, for you to make this a labor night for Cass County Democrats is a big deal to me. And that’s why it’s a sincere pleasure to be here. Because as George Meany said many years ago, “We have a lot to do with the Democratic Party, but we don’t run the Democratic Party. And they don’t run us.” But the fact of the matter is, that the Democratic Party and the labor movement are linked at the hip. Our values are the same. We believe in the same things. We represent the same people. And we try to achieve the same goals. And it is not always easy.
And you’ve fought long and hard in this state. And had just a tremendous victory last November with your new governor, new attorney general, and all your other [garbled] offices that you picked up. But I can tell you from first hand experience that I know the work that’s involved. I’ve had the opportunity over the years to travel all over the country and work in a lot of states. Battleground states, non-battleground states, big cities, small towns, counties. And I understand that organization and commitment is what gets it done. That’s how you win elections. And it’s evident from the work we all did last year. And not just last year, but going back to 2000, that taste of bitter defeat that night. I know where I was and I know how I felt. How much time I put in and how much traveling I did and how angry my wife was a lot of the time. [laughter] But also how important she knew it was for us and our children and everybody’s children to win that one. And we didn’t, or maybe we did…
…But we kept at it. And I will tell you, over the last ten years, the labor movement has spent over a billion dollars and millions of man days of work working with the national Democratic Party, state Democratic parties, county Democratic parties to help fund and get Democrats elected. We knock on doors. We do phone banks. We do lit drops. We do voter registration drives. There’s never a time in any county or any state in this country when the Democratic Party calls, and usually they don’t have to call ’cause the labor movement’s already there, but when they call, the labor movement shows up. They show up with the bodies. They show up with committed activists. They show up with their money.
And a billion dollars is a lot of money. And I want to tell you how a billion dollars is raised. A billion dollars is raised a penny and two cents an hour. Not like Wal-mart where you can write a ten million dollar check. It’s individual members that these people out here represent that contribute a penny and two cents and three cents an hour out of their paychecks. To put into a PAC fund so that they can support candidates who they think are gonna support them. And from what I know of this county, that’s the kind of Democrats we have in this county. And that’s why they’re willing to put their pennies together, which make dollars, which make hundreds of dollars, and thousands of dollars, because we all know that money is the mother’s milk of politics.
So, a lot of work was done over a long period of time, culminating in last November. And what a difference a year makes. The effort from the Democratic Party, the labor movement, in particular the building trades, especially here in Missouri which was one of six targeted states for the national Building Trades Department, ’cause we understood how important Missouri was, both in you governor’s race and electorally in the presidential race. The work, the time, and the effort that was put in by the leadership of the building trades, these local union leaders in this room and across this state working with the Democratic Party – it was an effort that we’re all proud of. And we ultimately didn’t get the one thing that we all wanted, and that was to turn the state on the presidential level, from red to blue. But you made ’em wait a month after Election Day before they could finally call it. [applause]
So you got your governor who’s good for working people, the people that we all represent. You’ve got your attorney general and we;ve got a president of the United States. And I want people to understand why the labor movement is so excited about Barack Obama. This is the first time in fifty years that we have a president of the United States who comes from a labor state, a labor dense area, understands the labor movement, in particular understands the building trades, spends time and has spent time in our training centers and our union halls, and really gets the value of the labor movement in helping to grow and maintain the middle class. We haven’t had that [applause] in fifty years. We didn’t have that with Bill Clinton, God bless him, Arkansas is not a very strong union state. We didn’t have it with Jimmy Carter, God bless him, Georgia’s not a very union friendly state. We didn’t have it with LBJ. We all know about Texas. [laughter] Especially here in Missouri. [voice: “Oh, yes.”] It wasn’t except for JFK, who was from Boston, in 1960, the last time we had a president who understood the value of the labor movement and the value of how you move people and maintain people in the middle class is through organization, labor unions, and collective bargaining. And now we have a president that understands that again. And that’s why we’re so excited. Not only for Barack Obama, but Joe Biden. Joe Biden goes back with the building trades thirty-five years. Joe Biden is as comfortable in a union hall, in a union training center, as any politician I’ve ever met in my life. Joe Biden gets us. Joe Biden understands us. Joe Biden rode the train with the conductors for thirty-five years. You’ve seen who he had at the inaugural with him. He had the working folks who helped get him back and forth to his family from Washington. These are the kind of people we have in the White House. It’s been a long, long time. And it’s been a tough, tough fight. And you’ve all done your part. And good things are about to happen.
But this president, and this labor movement, and this state and this county are up against some tough times right now. I don’t have to tell you how difficult the economy is. But this president has put together a cabinet of people who get us, who understand us. Hillary Clinton at State. People say, “Why would the labor movement care about the Secretary of State position?” Well, in the global economy that we live in we’ve got corporations that fly no flag, that come from all over the globe, that come into this country, build facilities and break down ou
r labor standards. Don’t respect our labor law. And abuse our workers. Now we have a Secretary of State who will have key labor people on her staff so that as she travels the world and meets with these folks they understand that there’s a different set of rules when you’re gonna come to the United States and do business. It’s give and take. We want ’em to come here, we want ’em to build their facilities, we want ’em hire our people, But we want ’em to be respected and paid the proper wages and benefits when they do.
Ray LaHood. Secretary of Transportation. One of two Republicans in President Obama’s cabinet. Ray LaHood is a building trades Republican. Ray LaHood supported the building trades in Davis-Bacon in every vote he ever took in Congress for fourteen years that he was there. Ray LaHood understands the building trades. Ray LaHood is a moderate Republican. Ray LaHood is somebody that we worked with over the years. Ray LaHood’s somebody that we’re working with right now.
Secretary [Hilda] Solis. At the Department of Labor. We haven’t had a Labor Secretary who actually looked out after the people that that department was supposed to do for more than eight years. I can tell you that I knew the former Labor Secretary and I like her personally. But her job was not to look after the working people of this country. Her job was to look after the corporate interests in the Labor Department in this country. And we’ve got a person in Secretary Solis at the Labor Department who again, the daughter of union members, from humble beginnings in Los Angeles, who understands the value of the labor movement to helping to achieve middle class status for millions of workers who’d never had the opportunity before in this country. And she will be our champion. And like she likes to say, when I went to her swearing in, “There’s a new sheriff in town and she’s wearing high heels.” That’s her. [laughter] [applause]
And even Tom Vilsack, your neighboring former governor from Iowa. You know, again, a guy from humble beginnings who understands the value of the labor movement, who worked his way through school and through law school, became governor. And will be there to help us. These are the kinds of people that our president has surrounded himself with.
It was more than just slogans on a campaign trail when he talked about what he wanted to do for this country. And it’s not gonna be easy. But with the team he’s assembled we’ve got the opportunity.
But we’ve got an economy that’s in absolute shambles. I don’t have to tell you. My brothers from the Kansas City building trades are actually fortunate right now. The vast majority of them. You have a lot of major projects, you have good employment, your contractors are relatively busy. But also know that when those major projects start to wind down we’re gonna have a lot of building trades brothers and sisters out of work. Because there’s no work on the horizon, there’s no work in the pipeline. With the credit markets frozen up, in the building trades, we have thirty and thirty-five per cent unemployment in many regions of this country, with no prospects, with no work on the horizon. The job of this president, to get this economy straightened out, is huge.
But he started out with a stimulus package that not one Republican member in the House of Representatives supported. And understand what was in that stimulus package, especially for my brothers and sisters in the building trades in this room. It was two hundred billion dollars in construction money in that package. There was COBRA benefits to extend health benefits for people who are running out of health benefits. There was unemployment extension in that to help people that are running out of unemployment. And there were tax cuts for the middle class. Almost six hundred billion dollars of that bill was for the people that we represent. And not one Republican, because of ideology, could support one family that was runnin’ out of unemployment, runnin’ out of health benefits, and wouldn’t give them the opportunity, through federal spending on construction, to go to work.
I can tell you that the building trades leadership will not forget that not one Republican in the House of Representatives voted for that stimulus package.
And in a break with tradition at the Building Trades Department, because we’ve had great relationships with moderate Republicans like ray LaHood over the years, at our annual legislative conference this year not one Republican member of the House of Representatives has been invited to speak. That’s the first time in the history of our conference [aplause] that we won’t have a Republican. [cheers] [voice: “Yeah!”]
The president’s laid out a big agenda that’s important to everybody in this room. We’ve got huge health care issues that he’s gonna have to tackle. And committees in the House and Senate have started. We have huge pension issues. Anybody in this room that has a 401K understands what that market meltdown meant to you personally. In the unionized construction industry we have defined benefit pension plans that have taken a terrific hit. And this president is committed to find a way, legislatively, to help us rebound from that hit. There’s huge climate change and energy bills coming that are gonna generate a tremendous amount of jobs for us.
And most importantly, in the short term for us, is the Employee Free Choice Act. Now I’ve taken some shots at republicans up here. And I’m gonna say it a lot nicer, but you need to encourage some of our Democrats in the State of Missouri to get up, stand up, get up front, and lead the parade in the Employee Free Choice Act. [applause]
In order to achieve the goals that we all believe in and the president has laid out for us, for people to have the opportunity to achieve their dreams and make it to the middle class, and sustain a middle class lifestyle, raise a family, have health care, have retirement security, have the ability to send their children to college if they choose to go there, they have to have the opportunity without coercion or intimidation to join a labor union if that is their desire. [applause] [cheers]
The Employee Free Choice Act doesn’t take away secret ballots [voice: “Right!”] Doesn’t intimidate anybody. [voice: “Right!”] Stewart Acuff, who is a friend of Teresa [Hensley] and her husband [Kenny Hensley], husband’s college buddy, is the organizing director for the AFL-CIO. And when you hear people talk about union thugs intimidating people in organizing drives in order to get them to sign cards [voice: “Liars!”] [laughter] It’s worse than that. [laughter] They have no idea how an organizing drive works. Organizers don’t all of a sudden arrive at a door and decide to organize a company. It’s the employees of that company that decide that they’re not likin’ the way things are goin’ and they want to have an opportunity to come together and collectively bargain instead of collectively beg with their boss. And they reach out, then activists inside that company reach out for the union and ask for assistance. And that’s what we lend. Technical assistance. Money and expertise. There’s no intimidation.
And as Stewart said on Fox News, I told Teresa, and don’t quote me on the exact number, but since 1937 there have been a hundred and thirty cases of documented intimidation by an organizer in a union drive having to do with having workers sign up for the union. In seventy some years. Last year there were thirty thousand cases of employer intimidation in organizing drives. [applause] In one year. [applause]
So it’s time. It’s time now. We need all the Cass County Democrats. We need all the Democrats in this state and in every state to push our elected leadership in the United States Senate to stand up and lead, We didn’t send them there to work on this agenda worrying about the next election. Now is the time.
Do you realize that the heroes that are in vogue in our country, and rightfully so, over the last couple months, Captain
Sullenberger and the crew of U.S. Air that landed that plane on the Hudson River and saved all those people, [applause] he’s a union airline pilot? And them flight attendants were all unionized. And the folks last week on the Alabama, they wouldn’t give up their ship to them pirates. Union members. Seafarers. [applause] This is what the Wal-marts of the world are afraid of?
The time is now. We need the support of the Cass County Democrats, and every Democrat in this state. We need the support of federal legislators, both in the House and the Senate. We need to help the president convince Democrats who have to make tough votes. And I understand how tough these votes are. These are tough votes for these folks. But they need to know that we have their back. And they need to know when they make these votes that we’ll double our efforts when their reelection comes and take on their enemies and make sure they have the money, the manpower, and support of the masses of Democrats in this state and every state in the country to get them reelected because it’s time to do the right thing. It’s time to move the middle class forward. It’s time to build the labor movement. And it’s time to build the Democratic Party.
Thank you for having me here. Appreciate your time and attention. [applause]
Organized labor is trying to deprive workers of the ability to choose whether or not to be recognized by a union through secret ballot elections. Workers’ rights to make this important decision in private and free from coercion need to be strengthened, not weakened. Read more about the Chamber’s efforts….
…Many unions prefer card-check to the NLRB process because it is usually faster. Also, during a representative election ampaign, one in four employers fire at least one worker for union activity and half of all companies threaten to close plants if workers choose union representation…
Employers do everything in their power to make sure workers don’t get a chance to vote for a union. They flout labor law, making a joke of the familiar National Labor Relations Board procedures where the government’s job is to oversee a “fair fight” election between the union and the boss.
As a result, unions have embraced neutrality agreements and card check procedures as an alternative road to growth. Since the mid-1990s their use has accelerated.
Several studies say the win rate for card check is about 70 percent, compared with 55 to 60 percent for recent NLRB elections….
…Unions have criticized the board in the past for moving too slowly and for a management-oriented tilt. Scholars attribute much of the problem and delays to the Taft-Hartley and Landrum-Griffin Acts, pushed by the GOP in the 1940s and 1950s, and to the negligible penalties faced by companies that ignore the law. But this statement was more pointed, alleging that the Bush-appointed NLRB majority has compiled “a long list of offenses against workers’ rights.” Among them:
• The board’s June 15 party-line decision to consider the legality of immediate challenges to card-check certification of unions. Unions now use card-check to get around the slow NLRB processes and management delays-and around provisions that restrict union, but not management, access to workers.
But the board, for 42 years, has said that once it certifies the union as the workers’ representative, the union has a year-after all appeals are exhausted-to bargain for a contract before the union’s legitimacy can be challenged. After that year, dissenters can push for a decertification election. The Bush GOP majority, at the request of the anti-worker National Right to Work Committee, asked for briefs on killing that one-year grace period, called a “recognition bar,” the AFL-CIO said.
“The Republican majority on the Bush NLRB seems intent on undermining voluntary recognition (card-check) agreements and the important rights they protect,” the executive council added…
It would appear that card check already happens, it’s just a matter of at who’s discretion. Is the current discretion “democratic”? Just asking.
…To amend the National Labor Relations Act to establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and for other purposes…
…SEC. 2. STREAMLINING UNION CERTIFICATION.
(a) In General- Section 9(c) of the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. 159(c)) is amended by adding at the end the following:
`(6) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, whenever a petition shall have been filed by an employee or group of employees or any individual or labor organization acting in their behalf alleging that a majority of employees in a unit appropriate for the purposes of collective bargaining wish to be represented by an individual or labor organization for such purposes, the Board shall investigate the petition. If the Board finds that a majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for bargaining has signed valid authorizations designating the individual or labor organization specified in the petition as their bargaining representative and that no other individual or labor organization is currently certified or recognized as the exclusive representative of any of the employees in the unit, the Board shall not direct an election but shall certify the individual or labor organization as the representative described in subsection (a)…
“…The idea is unfair and repugnant to freedom-loving Americans…”
Here’s something that should be repugnant to freedom loving Americans: harassment and intimidation.
Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, United States House of Representatives
Hearing on “Strengthening America’s Middle Class Through the Employee Free Choice Act”
…At AT&T Wireless, we had absolutely no say on workplace conditions, including wages and benefits. Our raises were determined by favoritism and seldom a reflection of our work. Some years, we would receive as little as a two-cent increase. On top of this, workers had no real means for reporting unfair treatment by supervisors. When we approached upper management about unfair treatment and inadequate pay, our requests fell on def ears. Frust
rated with the companies’ neglect and indifference, my co-workers and I decided to come together to form a union with the Communication Workers of America (CWA) to bargain for fair raises, affordable health care benefits and respect at work.
Once word reached management that we were trying to organize, they did everything they could to stop us from exercising our right to form a union. Our supervisors constantly threatened that AT&T Wireless would leave our town and that we would lose our jobs. They also claimed that if we did succeed with our organizing efforts, our union dues would be so enormous we may actually need two jobs.
My co-workers and I would distribute union flyers in our break room and place posters on the walls with information about the union. Supervisors would immediately gather the information and dispose of it. Management wanted to deny other workers the opportunity to make an informed, educated decision on whether or not to join a union. They wanted to control the information workers received and instill fear through constant threats and lies about the union. At one point, one of the managers went so far as to park her car at the front entrance of a building where my co-workers and I were holding a union meeting. Deeper into our organizing campaign, management began to drive out our most outspoken union supporters for so-called “bad attitudes” and other flimsy charges.
Despite the company’s on-going intimidation tactics, we continued our organizing efforts. Having had past experience with unions and knowing what a difference they could make, I was especially active in the fight to unionize at AT&T Wireless.
Months into our organizing struggle, we heard that Cingular Wireless was going to purchase AT&T Wireless. At some point during the merger, several co-workers and I sat in on a conference call with Cingular Wireless executives to talk about what the merger would mean for former AT&T Wireless employees. When asked about our organizing efforts, Cingular CEO, Stan Sigmund, revealed he had a good relationship with CWA and assured us that each AT&T Wireless call center employee would be able to choose whether or not they wanted union representation, free of employer interference. I was overjoyed. It was a relief to know that we could finally speak openly about the union without the fear of employer retaliation.
Shortly afterwards, the harassment and intimidation stopped. We were free to distribute union literature to other workers during our break and were even allowed to set up a table in the break room with information on CWA. We made posters, put out flyers and made phone calls about the benefits of joining a union and having a say on wages and work conditions. In 2005, a majority of us voted for the union by signing authorization cards and on Sept 6th, 2005 we were officially recognized as CWA members. Management even helped us arrange a cookout at the call center to celebrate…
So card check is okay if the employer says so, but leaving the choice to the workers who want to organize is not?
Question: Isn’t it really “undemocratic” to keep the choice of how workers organize from workers and reserve it exclusively to employers? Just asking.
Oh, by the way, Ike Skelton (D) is a co-sponsor of the bill.
“…The idea is unfair and repugnant to freedom-loving Americans…”
Kansas City and Missouri labor icon Bill Richardson’s response to an anti-labor opinion piece by E. Thom McClanahan in the Kansas City Star.
McClanahan wrote: “…The measure deserves to die, as it did in 2007…”
What McClanahan doesn’t tell you is that it passed the House, it couldn’t get 60 votes in the Senate to invoke cloture and remove republican obstructionism (it got 51 votes, that’s a majority), and it faced a veto by a failed president.
March 22, 2009
In his March 15 op-ed piece, Thomas McClanahan once again shows his disdain for labor unions.
He forgets, most likely on purpose, that labor unions are people – men and women who work hard every day to make a living for their families, and produce the goods and services that make up our economy.
He says the proposed “Free Choice Act” has a misleading title. However, I have never read in any of his columns that the “Right to Work” legislation passed many years ago is a misnomer. The so-called “Right to Work” does nothing to secure employment for anyone. What it does do, however, is set up a barrier to union organizing. Its sole purpose is to wreck unions.
Perhaps one day McClanahan will get it right. Help workers and you help the nation. The more they make, the more they spend. Working people are the backbone of our economy.
McClanahan says the “Free Choice Act” takes away the secret ballot. He’s dead wrong again. The secret ballot still applies along with the card check. McClanahan assumes that workers are not smart enough to choose. Wrong again. Workers are wonderfully astute when it comes to their workplace. When it comes time to make the choice to unionize, they will be smart and deliberate.
What McClanahan does not tell you: the laws and regulations that govern union organizing now do not work. When union organizers get signed cards from 30 percent of the workers, an election is scheduled. Then the employer has the opportunity to campaign against a union, often using misleading and coercive tactics. And if the employees vote to have a union, there is nothing in the present law that requires the employer to sign a contract with the union. There are many workers who voted for a union one, two or even three years ago who do not yet have a contract.
What McClanahan does tell you however: it’s alright for employers to exercise unfair tactics but it’s not alright for workers to have an even playing field. This is McClanahan’s so-called “Fairness Doctrine.”
Please call or write your Congressional representatives and ask them to support working men and women by voting for the Free Choice Act.
Posted March 5, 2009 at 10:46 am, in From the News
By Robert L. Borosage
Co-Director Campaign for America’s Future
…The real donnybrook will be in the Senate where it has strong majority support but must overcome efforts by a conservative minority to block the vote with a filibuster. The Chamber of Commerce and various business lobbies have threatened to spend $200 million or more to stop EFCA, which Home Depot’s founder, Bernie Marcus, charges will lead to “the demise of civilization…”
What people who’ve never seen union busters in action don’t get is this: it’s important that companies not be allowed to delay certifying the union if a majority of workers indicate that they want one–not even for just a couple of months. Most people haven’t been fired because they wanted a union or threatened with firing or made to sit through harangues about how the unions will eat their babies and charge them exorbitant dues. Good people don’t realize that the companies will threaten to close a plant altogether if forced to unionize (though they rarely actually do it). Normal people used to playing fair don’t grasp what sleazy tactics companies will get up to in those crucial two or three months.
Instead, when nice people hear that ex-state senator John Loudon is working for a ballot initiative that would require secret elections before unions could be certified–and such elections would entail those disastrous three month delays–they think: “Who could complain about secret elections? They’re the basis of democracy.”
Imagine holding a statewide election where one side was able to require attendance of all voters to watch propaganda films on why the other side is wrong. Imagine that that same side could ship volunteers for the other side outside the state, or cut off their voting rights altogether. Imagine further that the same side could decide to shut down the entire state if they lost the election, or drag their feet on the results by claiming various technical problems until they can get a re-vote (OK, that’s already happening with Norm Coleman.) That’s what we have under current law with the supposedly sacred “secret ballot” elections for our workplaces. This is what Mike Cunningham wants to enshrine into our state constitution as the only possible way to decide whether or not a workplace should be unionized.
No, if 51 percent of the workers sign a card (it’s called card check) saying they want a union, they should be allowed to certify the union without waiting, if they choose.
Ed Finkelstein, owner and editor of the Labor Tribune, spoke at the March West County Dems meeting, about the Employee Free Choice Act that Congress will be voting on in the next year to year and a half. He explained why labor and, in fact, this country need the EFCA and need card check. As union membership has declined to a mere seven or eight percent, most of us have been taking it on the chin financially while the wealthy light their cigars with thousand dollar bills. The top ten percent of the earners have gotten ninety percent of the income gains, and the top one percent have reaped sixty percent of the income gains. We need legislation that gives unions a decent chance to form and to protect working people.
And there’s more to the EFCA than just the card check requirement. I’ll let Finkelstein explain it to you, but be warned: there will be a quiz. Be prepared to explain the three critical provisions of EFCA.
(He begins by describing a Chamber of Commerce meeting he attended as a young man.)
Nationwide, those determined to stonewall EFCA will spend at least a couple of hundred million dollars. And their campaign will be shrewd. Republicans may be dead wrong about what’s good for this country, but they are so smart about appealing to our emotions. The nationwide opposition to EFCA, as well as the SOS (Save Our Secret ballot) campaign here in Missouri, will pretend to be on the side of truth, God, the American way, democracy and the sanctity of secret elections. They’ll invoke the horror stories of one candidate elections in the old Soviet Union, with members of the commissariat peering over a voter’s shoulder to make sure he voted properly.
On the other side, labor will spend millions to fight the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its minions and will organize at the grassroots to get the message out about why we need this legislation. But it will be a tough battle because they’ll be fighting not just cynical big business but all the nice people who just don’t get it.