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View Diary: On the introduction of the Employee Free Choice Act (72 comments)

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  •  Ok, I'm almost convinced (0+ / 0-)

    I've been thinking about this and, given that there already is effectively no secret ballot anyway, I'm now inclined to support EFCA. Your post made the case. Not that I think it's a total or great solution, but it does seem like a step in the right direction.

    I think the entire process as it currently works sounds ghastly, from the point of view of pretty much everyone involved.

    But does EFCA really solve all these problems?

    Is its ONLY proposed change that employers would have to recognize the card check? Everything else remains the same? Or does this law also do anything else to improve the process?

    How is it going to stop employers from attempting to threaten and frighten people into not signing the cards? Or taking actions against organizers? Is it just that it will give them less time to mobilize opposition?

    At this point I'm leaning towards supporting EFCA as a good step toward equalizing the playing field, but far from a complete or ideal solution to the problems.

    Really just understanding that card checking already happens, and there's no effective secret ballot in the current laws anyway, is all one needs to know to realize that there's probably nothing to be lost in supporting it.

    This would have been a FAR better explanation of EFCA than what the front page featured yesterday, the post headlined "Rachel Maddow Explains EFCA" where the sum total of her answer to the secret ballot concerns was "employees can still choose the secret ballot if they want one" which she repeated numerous times, as if that explains it all.

    So I asked, in the thread under that article, how was this choosing by employees to work? When it was explained how this so-called secret ballot process was supposed to work, it comes off as absurd.

    If Rachel had just explained the actual facts, as you did here, and said that there is no real secrecy to the ballot anyway, then it would have been a worthwhile report and perhaps the posting would have helped to actually explained EFCA as the headline claimed.

    As it stands, I'm very disappointed in Rachel Maddow for offering up such crappy explanation of this, and I have to say that particular the front page article was not helpful in understanding this issue. There may have been other, better ones, but I don't read here constantly to see every article and diary, and I don't have time to fully research on my own every topic that comes up. Which is why I appreciate folks like you who do take the time to answer questions in the comments. This is what makes this site a great resource.

    Thanks again!

    •  Other elements of EFCA (0+ / 0-)

      The Employee Free Choice Act would also:

      1. Introduce, for the first time, actual fines for committing unfair labor practices (that is, breaking the rules in the National Labor Relations Act).  Under current law, an employer who is found to have committed a ULP has to 1) restore the status quo ante, and 2) post a notice saying, "We committed an unfair labor practice by____ and we won't do it again."  The Employee Free Choice Act will introduce the possibility of fines of up to $20,000, based on the gravity of the ULP and the impact on workers trying to organize.
      1. Introduce, for the first time, compensatory damages paid to workers who've been fired.  Under current law, if the Board finds you were fired illegally (a process that usually takes months, sometimes years, to conclude), the Board orders your employer to give you your job back (won't that be fun!) and to pay you backpay, minus anything you've earned in the interim (including unemployment compensation), and, in a recent decision, minus any money you should have been earning if you'd been trying actively to get a job.  The Employee Free Choice Act will introduce back-pay-times-3 for firings that occur in the context of a union campaign.
      1. The Employee Free Choice Act would also allow unions to seek injunctions from Federal court to stop employers from flagrantly violating the law -- right now, employers can do this (e.g., getting an injunction to limit picketing), but unions can't.

      The whole text of the bill is here, though you need to remember that most of it is additions and edits to the National Labor Relations Act, not a complete, new labor law from the ground up.

      Now, these changes are designed to deter employer abuse, and I think they'd be a significant help.  "So," you might ask, "why not just rely on increased penalties to clean up the process, and leave the certification system as is?"  Good question.

      The concern is that the Board only behaves reactively, and once people have been intimidated, fired, etc, even if all the king's horses and all the king's men show up, Humpty Dumpty -- the nascent union -- is gonna stay broken.  So the penalties need to be really, really severe to tamp down the level of abuse that's become standard practice for employers (remember, workers were fired illegally in over 30% of union elections in 2007, and overall over 25% of elections since 2000), otherwise ULPs will still be just a "cost of business".

      Furthermore, there is a real principle at stake here:  once a group of workers decides to form a union, they've made their decision, and we should respect it.  No one thinks that the Declaration of Independence was invalid because the King didn't get to hold meetings with the Founding Fathers before they signed, or because there wasn't secret ballot election 2 months later.  The Founding Fathers got together, discussed the matter amongst themselves, and came to a decision -- signing a public petition that brought their new nation into being.  If a group of workers want to sign cards or a petition to bring their new union into being, they should have the right to do that.

      "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

      by Pesto on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 06:52:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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