The EFCA will help build an economy that works for everyone. Passage of this act will do more to help US working families over the longer term than any other single action to help end the current US fiscal crisis. As the AFL-CIO states
Supported by a bipartisan coalition in Congress and millions of workers around the country, the Employee Free Choice Act would level the playing field and put the power to choose a union back where it belongs—in the hands of workers. It will restore workers' power to bargain for a better life, rebuilding the middle class and strengthening the economy for the long term.
The full text of the EFCA is available at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:H.R.800:
EFCA will help to rebalance the distorted distribution of wealth in this country which underlies the fiscal crisis. We live in a country where, in 2005, 1% of the population had 21.8% of the wealth. This trend has continued. The disproportianate distribution of wealth is even more pronounced today, despite the fiscal crisis.
Corporations and CEOs aren't treating workers fairly. They cut back on workers' health care and wages, while CEO pay skyrockets. They intimidate workers who join together to negotiate a contract, while protecting their own perks and benefits.
The Heritage Foundation is representative of the attack by business interests. In an article entitled "Employee Free Choice Act Would Disenfranchise 105 Million Workers", published on January 7,2008, they describe the secret ballot mechanism as a "fundamental right" of workers.
The Heritage Foundation and other business interests are lying to people, harping endlessly that
A fundamental principle of American democracy is that votes are private choices. Secret ballot elections ensure that voters can choose the candidate who truly represents them, not the candidate whom their friends or neighbors want them to support. Millions of Americans cherish this freedom, but many Members of Congress want to take it from American workers.The Heritage Foundation continues:
The card-check process also denies workers the right to vote "yes" or "no" on joining a union. Workers can only vote "yes" by signing the card.Both these statements by the Heritage Foundation are outright lies designed to scare working families into supporting business rather than our own interests.
The true "fundamental right" is the right to work and to join together in a union. Article 23 section 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.Business interests are attempting to confuse people by replacing the meaningful democratic right to form a union with the mechanism of the secret vote, which they call a right and which does nothing for working families on its own. Workers can vote secretly all they want without bothering a boss. However, forming a union has real impact on workers lives, and on the boss's ability to pay as little as possible and keep the most for themselves.
Voting secretly is but one of a variety of mechanisms used to express the will of the people. History has shown that business interests are quite happy to subvert and undermine this mechanism in this country and elsewhere to achieve their goals. Rachel Maddow reports on widespread Republican efforts to block Democrats from exercising their rights to vote in the 2008 presidential election on her MSNBC show.
In the context of union organizing the secret ballot is a mechanism that works for the business owner, not for the worker. It gives the boss the ability to monitor the organizing activities, to identify and intimidate or fire key workers involved in organizing, and to apply terror tactics and lies to prevent workers from joining a union.
America's workers want to form a union. Nearly 60 million would form a union tomorrow if given the chance. It is the business practices, not the union organizing, that is anti-democratic and deprives workers of their rights.
As outlined by the AFL-CIO:
The Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800, S. 1041), supported by a bipartisan coalition in Congress, would enable working peope to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions by restoring workers' freedom to choose for themselves whether to join a union. It would:The EFCA makes it easier to organize a union by allowing the work of union oganizing to take place with less intervention from the management of the enterprise being unionized.
Establish stronger penalities for violation of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first-contract negotiations.
Provide mediatation and arbitration for first-contract disputes.
Allow employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation.
The EFCA does not take away the right to secret ballot should the workers want to use that mechanism. EFCA adds another form for a worker to express support for having a union.
The key section of the EFCA reads:
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).
On March 3, 2007 at a rally in support of the Employee Free Choice Act, now President Obama said
the union movement is the best way for working people to take care of themselves in the 21st century economy:
In coffee shops and town meetings, in VFW halls and right here in this crowd, the questions are all the same. Will I be able to leave my children a better world than I was given? Will I be able to save enough to send them to college or plan for a secure retirement? Will my job even be there tomorrow? Who will stand up for me in this new world?
The answer is you. It’s the men and women of the American labor movement.
Business interests are fighting the Employee Free Choice Act viciously, with lies. Workers and our allies can fight back.
Join the American Rights At Work Million Member Mobilization Campaign in support of the Employee Free Choice Act at http://www.freechoiceact.org/page/s/aflcio?source=aflcioweb.
Its time to stop letting the same business interests that caused today's fiscal crisis define what we can be paid and what our benefits should be. Working people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, not underpaid and overworked, or left without a pension or health care.
Let's win the Employee Free Choice Act now!