What We Stand For

The Communist Party of Indiana CPUSA struggles for socialism: to better the lives of Indiana's working families, to protect and extend labor's ability to organize, for the needs of women, children, immigrants (documented and undocumented), the disabled, LGBT, and all people who strive for affordable quality health care, housing, and education. We stand against racism in all its forms. We stand for jobs for all. We stand for peace. We support all who struggle world wide for the dignity and self-determination of the majority of their nation's people and against imperialism, occupation, and exploitation for private profit.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Senate Goes Wobbly on Card Check

There is an intense campaign going on against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), and the campaign is based on a lie. Kimberley Strassel reports in The Senate Goes Wobbly on Card Check that the Employee Free Choice Act "gets rid of secret ballots in union elections."

This is a lie that is being repeated over and over in order to make it appear to be true. No matter how many times it is repeated, it remains a lie.

There are two aspects to the lie.

The first is just the bald-faced wrongness of the statement. The Employee Free Choice Act does not take away the right to a secret ballot if that is what the workers want. The text of the EFCA is available here. Read it for yourself and find out. Helpful information provided by the AFL-CIO is available here. Please take a look at these resources so you are informed during this important discussion.

The text is quite clear. Nothing is taken away. What is added is the ability to work to build the union away from the intimidation and coercion of the management.

The key text 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).

There is nothing in that language that prevents secret ballot. In fact, according to the AFL-CIO:

Workers can still vote [by secret ballot] under the Employee Free Choice Act. At any time, if 30 percent of the workers want an election, they can have one. And once they have a union, workers also vote to elect their union representatives.

The second aspect of the lie is that the secret ballot is somehow equivalent to democracy. That is a blatant lie.

A secret ballot is just a mechanism to express the will of the people. When the mechanism facilitates coercion and manipulation it is anti-democratic. The secret ballot vote is often the end result of a coercive process because the organizing for the voe is heavily undermined by management. Under the labor organizing laws today management controls access to the workforce so only the corporate voice is heard. Imagine an election in the community in which only one candidate has access to the people who are voting. That’s what happens now when there is a vote.

A secret ballot vote doesn't equate to democracy any more than having a pot to cook in means you have food to eat. An empty pot sitting on top of the stove doesn't help when you're hungry.

The AFL-CIO has an excellent review of Ten Key Facts about the Employee Free Choice Act here. Some of the key points are:

-- America’s workers want to form unions. Research shows nearly 60 million would form a union tomorrow if given the chance.

-- Too few ever get that chance because employers routinely block their efforts to form unions—and our current legal system is too broken to stop them. As many as one-quarter of employers illegally fire workers who try to form unions.

-- The Employee Free Choice Act would give workers a fair chance to form unions to improve their lives by:

* Allowing them to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation.
* Providing mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes (PDF).
* Establishing stronger penalties for violation of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first-contract negotiations.

-- More than three-quarters of Americans—77 percent—support strong laws that give employees the freedom to make their own choice about whether to have a union in their workplace without interference from management (PDF).

The Employee Free Choice Act should be seen as the most important piece of legislation that can be implemented today. It would help the vast majority of people in the country, and be the biggest help to the economy of any fiscal stimulus plan component by helping to balance the unbalanced distribution of wealth discussed in other posts to this blog.

Please sign the AFL-CIO petition to express your support of the Employee Free Choice Act today.

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