A letter in the July 14, 2009, Tomahawk Leader:
Mr. Turner’s assessment of the Employee Free Choice Act is typical of companies who use misinformation to attack this piece of legislation.
The Employee Free Choice Act does not eliminate elections. It gives the working people the freedom to make their own decision about whether and how to form a union. Under the current system, corporations can insist that employees organize unions through so-called elections on company terms, even when a majority of workers have already said they want a union. However, if one-third of workers want they can still choose an NLRB-supervised election, although those elections have been proven to be distorted and unfair. The choice is made by the workers. What could be more democratic?
In 2007 there were 16,291 alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act against employers. Of the charges found to have merit, 88.4 percent were complaints issued against employers. The majority of all charges were illegal refusal to bargain (54.4%) and illegal discharge or other discrimination against employees (45.6%) (www.nlrb.gov). The penalties for violations are currently so small, employers can write them off as a cost of doing business.
When workers try to form a union they come under intense pressure from management. The employer controls the voter’s paycheck and has unlimited access to speak against the union in the workplace while restricting pro-union speech. In three out of four campaigns to form a union, the company hires an anti-union consultant. A full 92% of private-sector employers use this tactic. Workers get illegally harassed for speaking out. And in 25% of campaigns workers are actually illegally fired because they want to form a union.
If workers overcome the odds and form a union, it can take years – if ever – to get a first contract. Only 38% of unions are able to attain a first contract within a year’s time. This is why the EFCA would provide for mediation and arbitration if the employer and employees cannot reach agreement after 120 days.
When workers make a decent living, our nation’s economy improves. Workers have been losing ground for years while corporate profits have soared. It’s time to turn this system around. We can start this process by enacting the Employee Free Choice Act.
United Steelworkers Local 460