Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Nathan Newman at the Talking Points Memo writes that State Laws Allowing Majority Sign-up for Unions Shows why "Employee Free Choice Act" is Fair Option for Workers:
The proposed federal Employee Free Choice Act would give employees the freedom to form a union when a majority of workers sign cards saying that they want one, avoiding the often months of employer harassment that have inevitably accompanied traditional National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election processes… it's worth emphasizing that the EFCA majority signup proposal is not some kind of wild new proposal by labor, but one used by well over a dozen states for groups of public and some private employees.
Ignoring Evidence of Majority Sign-up Success in the States: Yet the anti-union lobby in Washington, D.C. has been churning out propaganda about the supposed horrors of coercion workers would face by unions if the Employee Free Choice Act was enacted. They inevitably tell hypothetical stories about what could happen — but studiously ignore the fact that states around the country already allow groups of public and private employees to form unions through majority sign-up procedures without any evidence of the coercion they conjure up.
Just to reinforce the lack of evidence of union coercion, a new report from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was released this week examining the whole history of majority sign-up in that state. The report found that between the years 2003 and 2009, 21,197 public sector workers used majority sign-up procedures allowed by state law to form unions with only one complaint about union coercion filed during that whole period — and even that complaint was dismissed as without merit by the state Labor Relations Board.
In fact, across the country since 2003, half a million workers have formed unions using majority sign-up procedures, either under state law or through voluntary agreements made with employers, and there is no significant evidence of union coercion under the process.
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Coercion by Employers under Federal NLRB Procedures: Compare this to the existing National Labor Relations Board process where an estimated one-in-five union organizers or activists can expect to be fired as a result of their activities in a union election campaign. A 2000 Human Rights Watch report said the failure to protect workers under U.S. election procedures was so profound that the so-called secret ballot election" process failed to meet international human rights standards. Just this week, the Center for American Progress Action Fund released an animation illustrating how brutal present NLRB procedures are for workers.
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State laws allowing majority sign-up for groups of public and private employees have been enacted in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin. Examples of these statutes include Oregon Revised Statutes, 243.682 for public employees and New York Chapter 31, Article 20, Section 705 covering both public employees and a number of private industries.
So you've got one system — NLRB elections with a demonstrated history of massive, overwhelming employer abuse — and another system — majority signup operating in many states with no evidence of any of the abuses alleged by opponents.
Scholars across the country are calling for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, in letters to Congress, symposiums, rallies, and roundtables starting this week. They will discuss how labor law has weakened over the last several decades, and why it is more important than ever to return to workers the freedom to form unions through the Employee Free Choice Act and to create an economy that works for everyone.
Over 1,000 scholars from disciplines that run the gamut from economics to sociology have signed a letter expressing their support for the legislation, calling it critical for lifting our economy out of the recession, and protecting our democratic values. The letter will be delivered to members of congress and can be read here and the signatories can be seen here
In addition, more than one hundred fifty historians have signed another letter in support of the bill through the Labor and Working Class History Association. It will also be sent to Congress this week and can be found here.
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“We, the undersigned historians, feel a special obligation to speak out on behalf of the Employee Free Choice Act. In our courses, we describe how freedom of association became a prized American right and how, for working people, freedom of association became a reality when the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 granted them a protected right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing. Students know this. It’s in the New Deal chapter of every textbook. So for them, it comes as a shock to discover when they enter the working world that they don’t dare exercise the rights the law says they have,” wrote David Brody, History Professor Emeritus at University of California, Davis in an open letter to Congress that will accompany the historians’ petition.
At events nationwide, academics will speak to why a robust labor movement is a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy and will discuss what the historical consequences have been when working people did not have a voice at the workplace. They will also join working people to speak to the process of forming a union, and how corporations have undermined working peoples’ rights over the last seventy years.