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At the banquet table of nature there are no reserved seats. You get what you can take, and you keep what you can hold. If you can't take anything, you won't get anything; and if you can't hold anything, you won't keep anything. And you can't take anything without organization.

-A. Philip Randolph, Founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, civil rights leader, and all-around American hero.

At this point, even the most casual reader of Daily Kos has probably heard of the Employee Free Choice Act. Labor unions are pushing Congress to move on it quickly, big business and its astroturf front rackets are spending untold millions to kill it, and in general, the atmosphere surrounding the bill is more akin to that of a nasty political campaign than a policy debate. But why do labor organizers care so deeply about Employee Free Choice? Why are astroturf groups funded by some of the worst employers in America popping up everywhere purporting to be deeply concerned about the rights of employees? Why is the Chamber of Commerce spending $20-30 million to poison the minds of Americans against the bill?

Why? Because the Employee Free Choice Act is, quite simply, not only the most necessary and important labor law reform in 75 years -- it's the cornerstone of any serious effort to reestablish a real middle-class in the United States. And Wal-Mart, and Grover Norquist, and the Chamber of Commerce, and the institutional Republican Party don't want a real, secure middle class. They want a docile, subservient class of workers who are utterly dependent on the tender mercies of their employers for every meal. They realize far better than many progressives that organization in the workplace -- unionization -- is the single greatest tool that workers have to ensure that they get a piece of the pie. They know that they have to do whatever it takes to prevent working Americans from joining together to "get what they can take, and keep what they can hold." And so, they will do whatever they have to do to try and kill the Employee Free Choice Act.

We can't let that happen. We have a golden opportunity to pass the Act in this Congress -- what with a Democratic president, 58 Democrats in the Senate plus Lieberman (who is a reliable vote on this issue), and a solid House majority.  There hasn't been an opportunity for real labor law reform like this in 40 years. This is not a time for incremental change -- not when we have the chance to reorder the economic rules of the nation so that everyday Americans have a chance to claim what's theirs.

Now, I can hear some of you saying, "man -- that's some pretty bold claims about this bill.  With the credit crunch, and Iraq, and the health crisis, how can the Employee Free Choice Act be so important?"

Well, that's what I'm going to try and answer here.

Employee Free Choice is Essential Because Unions Are Essential to a Real Middle-Class

Before we can really understand why the Employee Free Choice Act is so critical to improving the health of the middle class, we need to talk about why unionization is so critical to the health of the middle class. Too often, unionists assume that progressives outside of the labor movement share our understanding about the centrality of organizing to the progress and security of working people. So here's a synopsis of the argument for unions.

I love the A. Philip Randolph quote at the top of this post, because it really sums up why people form labor unions. For the most part, they don't do it because it's ideologically satisfying -- they do it because they want their share. They want a safe workplace. They want better wages. They want the security of health insurance. They want retirement security. They want fair treatment on the job. And as Randolph said, it's nigh impossible to get those things without organization in the workplace - without all the employees of a company standing together to demand their fair share. You don't have to look far to see evidence of this fact:

  • The average union worker earns at least 11% more than the average non-union worker, and union workers in lower-wage occupations earn over 20% more than their non-union counterparts.
  • Federal and most state wage and hour laws don't call for overtime premiums for hours worked over 8 in a day -- but 93% of union agreements ensure that workers receive an daily overtime premium, usually time-and-a-half.
  • Over 80% of employees working under union contracts enjoy the security of a defined benefit pension -- that is, a guaranteed pension, backed by the PBGC, that provides a consitent payment every month for the life of the retiree. Many union employees participate in multi-employer defined benefit plans, which pool the costs and risk of the plan across dozens or hundreds of employers. Less than half of non-union employees have a defined benefit pension, and that number is plummeting -- troubling at a time when the average 401(k) lost 30% of its value in the past 12 months.
  • Only about 10% of union workers lack health insurance, compared to about 50% of non-union workers.  Moreover, union workers with insurance pay out significantly less -- about 25% less -- of their total income in health insurance premiums than do non-union workers.
  • Because union employees work under contracts that spell out meaningful health and safety regulations, and because they consequently don't have to rely on ineffectual and underfunded government health and safety regulatory agencies, union jobsites are safer than non-union jobsites.

The list could go on, but the point is clear: union workers earn significantly more money, enjoy more significantly more retirement security, are significantly more likely to have health insurance, and have significantly safer workplaces than similarly situated non-union workers. It's not close.

And it's not magic -- simply joing a union doesn't in and of itself dramatically improve your quality of life. The reason there's a union advantage in all these areas is because union workers stand together, as an organized unit, to "get what they can take, and keep what they can hold" from their employers. But you don't have the opportunity to create that union advatage, to take what's yours, without unionizing. And it's that union advantage that's the difference between a family being solidly middle class and a family that's fundamentally insecure.

The sad thing is, most Americans don't understand the magnitude of the union advantage -- the massive difference in wages and in general familial security. And those who do, and who try to organize, find the deck stacked against them.

Employee Free Choice Is Necessary Because Labor Law Is Broken and Anti-Worker

To put it plainly -- it is a dangerous endeavor for employees to try and organize themselves into a union.  Over the past 40 or so years, a combination of factors -- most importantly, the defunding of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB -- the agency that oversees union-management relations) and the increasing sophistication of union-busting approaches -- have made it extremely difficult for employees to choose to unionize.

Cornell University scholar Kate Bronfenbrenner studied hundreds of organizing campaigns and found that:

Ninety-two percent of private-sector employers, when faced with employees who want to join together in a union, force employees to attend closed-door meetings to hear anti-union propaganda; 80 percent require supervisors to attend training sessions on attacking unions; and 78 percent require that supervisors deliver anti-union messages to workers they oversee.

Seventy-five percent hire outside consultants to run anti-union campaigns, often based on mass psychology and distorting the law.
Half of employers threaten to shut down partially or totally if employees join together in a union.

In 25 percent of organizing campaigns, private-sector employers illegally fire workers because they want to form a union.

Even after workers successfully form a union, in one-third of the instances, employers do not negotiate a contract.

And it's not supposed to be that way. In fact, even after Reagan and Bush, the United States government's stated, legislated policy is still to promote collective bargaining, to promote unionization -- as seen in Section 1 of the National Labor Relations Act:

It is declared to be the policy of the United States to eliminate the causes of certain substantial obstructions to the free flow of commerce and to mitigate and eliminate these obstructions when they have occurred by encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining and by protecting the exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection.

Got that? It's supposed to be the sole decision of workers, not their employers, whether to join a union and demand their fair share. But as the statistcs above show, that's not the way things work.

When employees come to their employer as a unified group and ask to be recognized as a union, the employer can force tham to go to the NLRB and file for an election. Then, the employer can force the NLRB to delay the election for months, if not years, by raising all sorts of ticky-tack legal issues. During the delay, the employer can (and probably will) harass, intimidate, and even fire employees to coerce them into abandoning their support for the union -- a workplace that was 90% in favor of unionization can easily be scared into voting against unionization. And even if the employees stand strong, and vote to unionize after all the threats and harassment, the employer can refuse to bargain with the union for years, instead litigating the results of the election. And even if the employer is finally ordered to bargain with the union, it can eseentially get away with refusing to do so -- and there's nothing meaningful that the NLRB can do, because the legal remedies available to it are completely ineffective and unintimidating.

In short, federal law is suppposed to preserve the free choice of employees to choose unions, but in practice it does no such thing. And that's why we need the Employee Free Choice Act -- to restore the right of workers to choose whether to unionize, and in so doing, to restore a real, secure middle class.

The Employee Free Choice Act has three simple components:

  • Toughen the penalties against employers who break the law. As discussed above, there's currently no serious penalty for coercing employees and intimidating them into forsaking support for a union.  Under the Employee Free Choice Act, employers will face treble damages and civil penalties for violating the rights of employees.
  • Allow employers and/or unions to request mediation or arbitration of a first contract. No longer will employers be able to drag out bargaining and refuse to deal in good faith with their employees' chosen union, with the goal of using that time to intimidate employees into going non-union. Under the Act, if the parties aren't able to agree on a first contract after unionization, either the union or the employer can refer the matter to a mediator or arbitrator to help craft a fair collective bargaining agreement.
  • Restore the right of employees, not employers, to make the unionization decision, by allowing workers to form a union through majority sign-up. The Employee Free Choice Act would vindicate the original goal of American labor law by returning the unionization decision to employees. As Al Franken says, "Right now, there are two ways to form a union: majority sign-up or a secret ballot election. And management gets to decide which is used. The Employee Free Choice Act would protect the same two ways of joining a union (majority sign-up or a secret ballot election), but leave it up to workers to decide which is used."

It's a simple bill. But because it's a bill that once again would give workers the real ability to choose to organize, and significantly better their lot in the workplace, it's anathema to the big business interests that have built and benefited from the Reagan/Bush America of economic insecurity. And that's why they're fighting it so hard.

But we need to fight even harder to pass Employee Free Choice. Because there's no other bill that can have as long-term, broad, and powerful an effect to build a stable and secure middle class. It's the key to real economic stimulus.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:08 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm proud to be a Teamster n/t (25+ / 0-)

    <div style="color: green">"The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add an useful plant to its culture" -- Thomas Jefferson</div>

    by tommurphy on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:10:29 PM PST

  •  That quote at start of post (9+ / 0-)

    is simply wonderful. Amen, brother.

  •  Wait for the Campaign that Unions (13+ / 0-)

    are as big a threat if not bigger than Al-Q to our way of life.

    The GOP has resorted to Cannibalism. Please send Condiments to GOP HQ

    by JML9999 on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:12:48 PM PST

    •  Already called the head of my union a Terrorist (22+ / 0-)

      WASHINGTON —  Education Secretary Rod Paige (search) says he chose poor words in calling the nation's largest teachers union a "terrorist organization," but he stands by his claim that the group uses "obstructionist scare tactics" in its fight over the nation's education law.

      Paige used the terrorist reference Monday in a private White House meeting with governors while answering a question about the National Education Association (search), which has 2.7 million members. His words startled members of his audience, triggered outrage from prominent Democrats and deepened the divide between the country's top education official and its largest union.

      I'm proud to be in a union that is called terrorist by the Bush Administration.  It should terrorize them that we exist.

      "We will now proceed to construct the socialist order."

      by 7November on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:19:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  tom delay already did that (8+ / 0-)

      Former Rep. Tom DeLay once sent a letter for the Foundation seizing on the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, soliciting donations to bolster its cause.  In the letter, DeLay warned, "the union bosses’ selfish drive to use the national emergencies we face today to grab more power, presents a clear-and-present-danger to the security of the United States at home and the safety of our Armed Forces overseas."  After an outcry over the letter ensued, DeLay quickly backed away from the letter, saying he had not actually seen it—that the letter had been written by a member of his staff.


      •  Delay calling out a power grab? (5+ / 0-)

        That's rich... the unions are selfish power-grabbers, and the GOP is pure as the driven snow.

        I'm so glad that asshat got thrown out on his ear.  Now if only we could do the same to McConnell...

        •  Unfortunately, thanks to the voters of Kentucky (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mamabigdog, moosely2006

          We're stuck with that asshat for six more years.

          "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

          by Navy Vet Terp on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 04:15:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I wish some giant scandal would show up (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sayitaintso, moosely2006, laurnj

            and take him down in classic GOP style.  Swirling right down the can with all the rest of the GOP crap...

          •  He Won't Be The Only One! (0+ / 0-)

            I predict that this effort won't get 55 votes let alone 60.

            You see, in the past there was no chance of the bill passing with Bush sitting in the White House, but now there is. So, the pressure is on. And they lobbying efforts by business will move at least 10 Senators who previously supported the bill to switch sides.

            Sen. Specter will be one.

            Think I'm crazy? Watch and see! I'm certainly going to be calling my senators but I doubt it will be any different than the FISA legislation.

            Obama will offer weak support, and Reid will have some reason not to bring it to a vote because a Republican has placed a "hold" on the legislation. It will be utterly sordid and pusillanimous.

            I hope I'm wrong but after watching this Democratic Congress for 2  years do everything the far right asked of them I have ZERO belief they will ever do the right thing. We'd need at least another ten progressive Senators before we'll have a chance on this.

    •  While we are at it.... (0+ / 0-)

      Can we please borrow this guy to school our Congressidiots?  We need free housing, too!

      We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. -Martin Luther King.

      by Eyes Wide Open on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 04:32:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Had a converstion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      with a guy on the IRC who was just slamming unions. He had bad experiances with unions that left him jobless and barred off sites. I tried to find middle ground with the guy and remind him of all the wonderful things that unions have done for everyone including him.

      22:27] [union hater] they are why us auto makers in such trouble ....

      01[22:27] [me] you think?

      [22:28] [UH] guaranteed with union shop, us productivity lower per m/h than japanese ... way lower per labor dollar too

      01[22:28] ME livable wages, health care, and retirement packages are the reason for the auto industry failure? wow  

      01[22:29] ME seems to me we are on opposite sides of the fence

      [22:29] UH yep, i worked all round the us n the world in manufacturing plants ... for me to work on a machine my company built i hadda have 5 union ppl standing there doin nothing cause i might be workin in their trade

      01[22:30] ME have  personal bad experiance, i understand that, but for some the union has been the difference between employment and unemployment

      [22:30] UH nothin in that about livable wage, or health care ... n lots in what i saw about non-productive workers n waste n inefficiency mandated by the unions

      01[22:30] ME the union has not had the most positive image portrayed in the public

      [22:30] UH ive lost my job cause of union activity .....
      [22:31] ive been working as an engineer in a refinery during a strike, union burned down a strike breakers house n killed his wife n daughter

      01[22:31] ME i suppose what the unions stand for and what they actually do may be in direct contridiction
      [22:31] UH ive had my tires punctured by union activists  
      01[22:31] ME wow, that sux!
      01[22:31] i am so sorry to here that

      [22:32] UH ive worked in unions n out of them .... i do much better out ...

      01[22:32] ME if i were you, i would also hold a negative view of the union
      [22:32] UH i can do more, be more productive, learn more when im not being restricted in what i am allowed to do by the unions
      ive worked in aerospace plants ... raytheon ... n those are even worse than automotive

      01[22:33] ME I look at the union from an historical perspective..without the iniatial; activism of the labor movement, we would not have the 8hr work day, child labor laws, osha, etc....

      [22:34] UH took 8 tradesmen at the machine i installed there .... and i wasnt allowed to even touch it ... i hadda point n explain to an engineer who did the stuff while the 8 tradesmen stood round watching frakin insane ....unionism to me is like communism ... a pretty theory but a failure in real world

      We went on for nearly an hour. Very friendly but frustrating none the less.

      Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King

      by BlackBox on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 05:29:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  He's wrong (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        on productivity being lower than the Japanese.

        On the other hand, that may be because the Japanese he's so appreciative of are much more likely to have unions. So I'm not sure I'm helping with this.

      •  discussion with other people (0+ / 0-)

        who have an opposing view about unions is a good way to at least get more people to consider their positions, since you had a civil discussion.

        Seems to me that you conducted yourself as an adult, and that's an effective approach to take. Too many people fly off the handle, which shuts down the listening apparatus, especially when they're passionate about their position.

        Unions--the people who brought you the weekend.

      •  Being in manufacturing (0+ / 0-)

        my entire 12 year carreer, I have had similar experiences with unions.  I do not belive that paying a liveable wage and benefits puts companies at unions at a disadvantage.  I believe it is the lack of productivity and the protection of incompetent and lazy employees.  Here are a couple examples of what I have seen:

        Employees sitting a machines reading newspapers or magazines for hours because he had met his daily quota and didn't have to do any more.

        On the other hand, I have seen non-union plants where workers make a liveable wage and benefits, and they get paid an incentive based on how much they produce.

      •  I have nothing to base it on... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but his anecdotal evidence just sounds completely exaggerated at best, and outright made up in my opinion.

        I hear that old canard about the "8 union guys standing around the one guy working" all the time from those folks.

        "And when justice is gone, there's always force."

        by soundchaser on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:12:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The US Chamber of Commerce is ready to go to the (25+ / 0-)

    mat on this - they're squawking like Scarlett when the taxes came due on Tara. Which makes it doubly important that we work to pass this legislation.

    •  We who are small businesses need to act (15+ / 0-)

      As a member of a local, not US Chamber of Commerce, I love to go to meetings and make those who think they can promote the US Chamber of Commerce message cringe.  Once local small businesses understand who funds and controls the US Chamber of Commerce---not small business---the fun begins.

      I urge Kossacks to join local Chamber of Commerce groups to inject some real information into the debate when the US Chamber asks the local Chambers to endorse their efforts to block the EFCA.

    •  the fate of EFCA in the Congress (10+ / 0-)

      will tell us all we need to know about the quality of change we can expect from our new Democratic Congressional representatives, the Democratic Congressional Leadership and the Obama Administration.

      Equally on display will be the quality of Union Leadership in this country, and the very concept of Union (and Labor) Solidarity. I happen to think that the appropriate public Labor response to the certain Reobstructican filibuster, the filibuster that Harry Reid will of course compel the ReThugs to actually perform, live on Cspan, as opposed to merely threaten, would be a nationwide General Strike by all Union workers.

      Labor didn't get unions and rights, the very unions and rights that the "Business Classes" are now out to take away, by quietly and politely asking for them and writing Stern Letters. Working people, in fact, struggled, bled and died to get those rights, and we owe their legacy, and the future of an American Middle Class, no less a sacrifice now.

      Finally, what will also be on display is the true nature of the "Progressivism" so loudly advocated by Kossaks, as we see to what extent Kossaks stand with Labor when the chips are down.

      don't always believe what you think...

      by claude on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 05:09:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Amen--fantastic post (16+ / 0-)

    As TomP has pointed out, Obama is on record saying

    It’s time you had a President who honors organized labor - who’s walked on picket lines; who doesn’t choke on the word "union"; who lets our unions do what they do best and organize our workers; and who will finally make the Employee Free Choice Act the law of the land.

    I will be watching to see whether Obama goes to the mat on this issue or makes a half-hearted effort, spending no political capital to lean on wavering Democrats in Congress.

    Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

    by desmoinesdem on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:16:27 PM PST

    •  It will be a test for Obama (10+ / 0-)

      Already the Chamber of Commerce and business groups are saying that if Obama really believes in "reaching out" to those with whom he disagrees, then he'll have to drop EFCA from the agenda.  Why?  Because passing it would completely piss off the business community.

      So we shall see what's truly important to the new administration.  Will it be willing to anger big business in order to pass the top legislative priority of a core Democratic constituency?  Or will it decide that "dialogue" and "outreach" to a core Republican constituency are what's really important?  How this goes will tell us a great deal about our new president's priorities and his intended method of governing.

      •  Can someone explain to me the talking (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cassidy3, radmanpa

        point of the Repubs:  It's taking away the right to a secret ballot?  I would love to understand what is the "real story".

        •  If 50% or more (6+ / 0-)

          of the employees to be represented sign a form saying
          they want to be represented, then the EFCA would say
          that no secret ballot election (or any kind of election) need be held to determine whether the union
          should be validated.  The signatures of 50% of those
          to be represented would be sufficient to bring in
          the union.

          That's my understanding from the Wikipedia article

        •  They're lying (15+ / 0-)

          Right now there are two ways to certify a union. The first is to have the employer agree to it when a majority of workers sign a card. The employer says ok and they negotiate. The second way is to have that card signing process trigger a secret ballot election.  What happens now is that the employer gets to decide whether that happens. We want the employees to decide whether the extra step is necessary.

          Employers almost always go the secret ballot route. Then they use the time between the initial stage and the secret ballot to fire union activists, recruit spies, threaten to close the plant, question the immigration status of latino union activists, etc etc etc. If workers don't want to go through that, it should be their choice.  

          •  Spot on laborish! (0+ / 0-)

            as an organizer for the construction trades, I've been organizing drives which lasted TWO YEARS. plenty of time for the owner to isolate the pro union and fire them.
            also been in drives which I had 100% support to begin with and ended up loosing the vote due to coercion and bribes, The current system is flawed to the point of ridiculous,
            the whole point of the EFCA is to empower workers.

          •  Can we fix the elections? (0+ / 0-)

            The secret ballot business seems to be the Right's main talking point, so why can't we fix the election process itself?  For instance, if elections were required to be held within one week of being requested, would that fix the problem?  What if the employees could make the arrangements for the election in secret with an outside agency, so that the employer wouldn't have time to fire rabble-rousers?

            I'm speaking from ignorance here; I don't know how the process works.  It seems to me that better regulation of secret elections would be an effective way of shooting down the Right's talking points, so the fact that we're not considering it suggests that the problems are insurmountable.  True?

        •  bait & switch (9+ / 0-)

          the 'ole "hey look over there" move to disguise their true motives.

          the talking point is that the bill somehow "takes away" secret ballots.  100% not true.

          * if 30% of people in a workplace say they want a union, they can have an election to decide. that happens now. * now, if 50% or more of workers in a union say they want a union, the employer can either recognize their union immediately, or demand  an election for the supporters to still demonstrate a majority * under the employee free choice act, the 30% threshold for elections stands. but if 50% +1 of employees say they want a union, they can have their union.

          in effect, it takes away a CEO's ability to demand workers again demonstrate they want a union - it gives employees the free choice to join unions if a majority of them want one.

          disclosure: i work for seiu.

          •  their true motives being.... (8+ / 0-)

            ...complete opposition to unions.

            ezra klein explains:

            I'll admit that employers have pulled off an extremely impressive PR trick tying card check to some abstract moral principle (free and fair and secret elections) that they routinely violate, but that's all it is: A PR trick. The actual argument over card check is whether you think workers should be more able to form a union, or less able. That's it. The end. Employers believe the latter, and the current system suits their purposes. Unions believe the former, and card check would work better from their perspective. But that's the argument.

          •  It's 6 of one, half dozen of the other (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NogodsnomastersMary, Jon Says

            It's disingenuous to say that the EFCA takes away the secret ballot - it's still there as an option. It's also completely disingenuous to say that it protects the secret ballot election - no union with half a brain will EVER have an election when they can demand representation with only 50% of employees signing cards. That allows for recognition without a non-biased (either side) discussion of unionization. It makes no sense. The secret ballots will still be an option on paper, but they will go away with the EFCA in its current state. (I'm not arguing for or against, but need to point out the reality).

            •  not necessarily (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              The point of the lower (30%) threshold is that some employees will feel secure voting for unionization on a secret ballot, but NOT on a card check. Granted, in practice employers have been successful at propagandizing and intimidating workers prior to the secret ballot, but there could still be situations where the 30% trigger would be critical in order to give employees the security of an anonymous vote.

              "I made the wrong mistakes" --Thelonious Monk

              by theloniously on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 05:43:20 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  If there is a signicant number (0+ / 0-)

              of workers opposed to the union--that is, at least 30%--they can also trigger an election under the theory that some of the 50% had been "coerced" and would really vote against the union in a secret ballot.

              That's the other big right-wing bugaboo--that union organizers threaten and coerce card signers and the workers need to be protected from them by a secret ballot.

              Utter nonsense, of course.

              Turn Left Interactive, a village of liberals founded 1995.

              by bently on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:53:48 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  This point is not clear to average citizens (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            phonegery, laurnj

            I have had to read a lot just to extract the point you have made here...that no secret election is necessary and that all that needs to be done is for a majority to say they want a union.

            Better PR on this point is a clear very simple terms.

      •  It was said 112 years ago (6+ / 0-)

        When you come before us and tell us that we shall disturb your business interests, we reply that you have disturbed our business interests by your action. We say to you that you have made too limited in its application the definition of a businessman. The man who is employed for wages is as much a businessman as his employer. The attorney in a country town is as much a businessman as the corporation counsel in a great metropolis. The merchant at the crossroads store is as much a businessman as the merchant of New York. The farmer who goes forth in the morning and toils all day, begins in the spring and toils all summer, and by the application of brain and muscle to the natural resources of this country creates wealth, is as much a businessman as the man who goes upon the Board of Trade and bets upon the price of grain. The miners who go 1,000 feet into the earth or climb 2,000 feet upon the cliffs and bring forth from their hiding places the precious metals to be poured in the channels of trade are as much businessmen as the few financial magnates who in a backroom corner the money of the world.  We come to speak for this broader class of businessmen.

        William Jennings Bryan, 1896.

        "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

        by Navy Vet Terp on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 04:21:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Excellent perspective (0+ / 0-)

          Why are 'business's' business interests always more important than labor's business interests?

          They're not. And labor commands a lot more votes. It's time for government to back the people, especially those who voted that government into power.

  •  Scum sucking Chris Wallace (11+ / 0-)

    is on Fox News right now claiming Democrats want to take away the right to a secret ballot.

    Solidarity Forever.  We need Mother Jones to come back and stick a ____ up his ________.

    "We will now proceed to construct the socialist order."

    by 7November on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:17:01 PM PST

    •  Excuse me - I seriously don't understand (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kosophile, WillR, radmanpa

      why having a secret ballot is so bad.

      Please enlighten me.

      •  look just above to "their lying" (6+ / 0-)

        What happens during the time of the voting process - employers stretch the voting process out for years and in the meantime fire all the pro-union workers.

        It will still give workers the option of having a secret ballot, it will just mean that they make this decision not the employers. It would in fact mean MORE democracy for the workers.

        You Suck at Photoshop.

        by thethinveil on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:49:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  See (3+ / 0-)

        this comment from higher in the thread.  Explains it pretty well.

        Your political compass Economic Left/Right: -6.50 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.67

        by bythesea on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:52:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kosophile, Jon Says

        From the tenor of the comments, it seems that nobody on this post can imagine that union organizers might strong arm workers to sign cards.

        I believe that unions contribute to the progressive political agenda and it is definitely correct that we need to reestablish the ability of American companies to offer secure, well-paid productive jobs to people with only a high school degree. BUT, imagining that unions can create those jobs simply through negotiation ignores the  facts: almost all production jobs can now be moved virtually anywhere in the world. Figuring out how to create skills among American workers and and innovative, high-value products that can't be moved to Mombai is the real challenge to improving the real wages and productivity of America's working class.

        •  I helped organize workers (0+ / 0-)
          it seems that nobody on this post can imagine that union organizers might strong arm workers to sign cards.

          Tell me how I strongarmed them. How did I do it? What did I threaten them with?

          I want you to tell me how a union organizer "strongarms" employees in a nonunion shop.

          It's bullshit. We don't even show up unless we're invited to. We don't even bother if we can't get two-thirds to sign cards.

          We don't "create jobs through negotiation." That's just bullshit. Where are you getting that from?

          "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

          by Ivan on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 06:28:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Pressure == Strongarm (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            With "card check" only, an employee knows that his refusal to sign a petition requesting a union will potentially be known to anyone. "Anyone" includes his co-workers who are often his friends, associates, and even family outside of work. A worker who opposes the union but looks around his social circle and senses that 75% of his circle of friends support the union must ask himself: If I vote my conscience and refuse to sign the petition, will my friends, associates, and family outside my work life "take it out on me" by excluding me?. If being put in this situation isn't being "strongarmed", I really don't know what else it is. This is not much different than if a very small city whose charter made the mayor very powerful required that each individual's vote for mayor would be public information.

            The current union organizing process has flaws, but the answer isn't to eliminate a secret ballot -- it's to fix the flaws. Reducing the maximum delay between the petitioning and a secret ballot election would be helpful. Providing additional protections against retaliation during this delay for (at least) workers who did sign the petition might be helpful.

            This aspect of the EFCA stains the entire bill. I think most people have a negative visceral reaction to attempts to eliminate an individual's ability to vote in private and (rightfully, IMHO) suspect it's not about "free choice" or level playing fields but about tilting the playing field towards union organizing. This aspect also gives perfect "refuge" for politician to vote against the EFCA which substantially reduces the odds of its passage.

            •  The secret ballot isn't eliminated (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              How many times do we have to say that? It's still an option. The employer controls the option now but the workers will decide it after EFCA.

              If enough cards get signed to put the union in place, the people who didn't sign won't be ostracized. The new union leaders will want to build the union and make it stronger, not retaliate against people who weren't sure what they wanted.

              Remember, people who want to form a union have to sign cards no matter what. They can sign cards and then have an election or they can just sign cards and be recognized. The organizing committee knows pretty closely how people will vote from the talks they had during the card signing phase, so the fact that the ballot is secret doesn’t mean that how a person voted is secret.

              EFCA doesn't tilt the playing field for unions. It levels the playing field after decades of it being tilted toward management.

              Your post is dripping with artificial concern.

              Turn Left Interactive, a village of liberals founded 1995.

              by bently on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 01:09:52 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Off shoring jobs to Mumbai (0+ / 0-)

          proves that employers will exploit anybody, anywhere. They are not moving production off shore because they want to increase productivity and innovation. They are off shoring the jobs because they constantly seek exploitation opportunities. The solution is to organize Mumbai workers so they can earn a wage that allows a higher standard of living.

          Figuring out how to create skills among American workers and and innovative, high-value products that can't be moved to Mombai is the real challenge to improving the real wages and productivity of America's working class.

          America's working class is already highly productive. Nothing is wrong with improving productivity but what employers really want is workers who are willing to accept low wages, no benefits, and unsafe working conditions.

        •  The thing is... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          unionization has been in a rapid decline for awhile (someone else may have the exact figures and timeline), and yet during that time jobs have been shipped off the continent like never before.

          "And when justice is gone, there's always force."

          by soundchaser on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 09:26:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  These two trends are connected (0+ / 0-)

            Unions losing bargaining power (and membership through downsizing of union facilities) is part and parcel of off shoring jobs. Both of these trends arise because the American worker does not have a compelling package of skills and compensation that would impede companies from closing union facilities in preference for nonunion facilities, one version of which involves off shoring jobs.

            I continue to maintain that helping American workers gain skills and/or exclusive rights to manufacture innovative new products developed with public investment (a condition of which would be maintaining jobs in the US), is the ultimate way to help the American working class improve real wages.

            I am an executive that has made these decisions in real life. Believe me, this is the calculus.

            •  Productivity is the key (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I believe that unions make copmanies less productive, hence less profitable.

              Management does not begrudge an employee a liveable wage.  Management is looking at labor dollars/unit produced.  

              I have been in many non-union plants where the workers are paid an incentive based on the amount of units they produce.

              Conversely, union plants usually have negotiated quotas that the workers meet.  The worker has no incentive to produce more than his quota because it may increase his target quota the next year or contract.

      •  I was part of unionizing campaign in 2007 (4+ / 0-)

        The company's first response to our campaign was to claim to the NLRB that our plant did not have the right to form a union without including 2 other nuclear plants which are about 150 miles away each. (Our single Florida plant however is union)  The Bush appointed NLRB of course agreed and we were then forced to try and organize all three plants simultaneous to get a vote.  The company hired a very high dollar union busting lawyer to help them orchestrate the vote no campaign. The campaign was on all fronts, video production, forced all hands meetings, buttons, huge posters with blatant lies about union membership all over the plant, intimidation, and lots of quality time with management who suddenly treated us very nice.  Our vice president came and gave a little speech to each work group about how much he cared about us even tearing up at one point in the speech.  Talking among ourselves afterward he cried at the exact same point to each group.  They fought to include work groups into the vote that were not part of the "working groups" organized and fought to exclude some who are.  Needless to say all these psychological and legal tactics worked and we lost our union vote and all the nice treatment ended as soon as the vote.  

        Nuclear Power can be the cornerstone to energy independence if ignorance and fear can be overcome

        by Kamin on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 06:27:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  See my comment me out here (0+ / 0-)

      I really want to refute this intelligently.

  •  I Generally Dislike the Term "Self-Hating"... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pesto, laborish, laurnj it's typically used.  But people who aren't rich and powerful and who complain that the real financial and life benefits to being in a union as aren't something everyone should have but instead are things that should be taken from people in unions, and who further assert that they don't have those benefits, I wonder how many of those folks are self-hating members of the "rest of us," the great unwashed masses who don't control great wealth and can't exert full and individual control over our workplaces.  

    "Dignified people, without a whimsical streak, almost never offer fresh insights, in economics or anywhere else." Paul Krugman

    by Dana Houle on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:17:33 PM PST

    •  the "rest of us" (0+ / 0-)

      who don't know from the labor movement usually get their opinions from the corporate-friendly media, which is controlled by the employers who don't want them to think that unions should be trusted.

      Unions have benefited workers who aren't members of unions, but there are always efforts to bust unions. The anti-union groups would never rest until what benefits are still left to employees are legally removed altogether.

      I worked for a company (retail) that wasn't unionized. They had time cards, so they could keep track of hours, but they pretty much stuck their thumb in the eyes of employees when they announced that they weren't going to do overtime, even though they sometimes had employees working over 40 hours/week. When I was talking to a couple of coworkers about maybe getting an organizer to talk with us, the reaction was along the lines of "the boss will shut the store down & we'll all be out of a job". My response that shutting the store down would have a negative effect on the boss's bottom line didn't persuade anyone.

      I lost that job a couple of months afterward, and the person who fired me was, herself, fired for stealing from the store (embezzlement, I heard). This was after she'd fired over 60 employees in a five-month period. When my former coworkers told me she'd been fired & asked me to come back, I thanked them, but let them know I'd just gotten another job--one where I didn't have to work evenings, weekends or holidays, and had benefits and higher pay than I'd had at the store. (I might get a part/time job there, to supplement my income-even though the pay is higher than what I was getting at my former job, it's not exactly huge, and times are tough, as we all know).

      That was a little more than 10 years ago.

      The "rest of us" are not only still with us, but they are more numerous now.

  •  The Republicans will filibuster it to death (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    janinsanfran, iRobert

    Reid will cave. It ain't gonna happen.

    My Senator is Roland Burris. The best Senator money can buy.

    by Anthony Segredo on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:17:33 PM PST

  •  This is an excellent and well argued piece. (7+ / 0-)

    With the economy in crisis and with more and more people's jobs under threat and the ability of employers to use the threat of redundancy as a cudgel, this is without a doubt an essential piece of legislation. We will not be able to re-build the middle class without higher wages for working and middle class people, just as we will not be able to recover from this economic crisis without those higher wages.

    The quote at the beginning by A. Philip Randolph has always been one of my favourites. Thank you.

  •  Excellent diary Trapper John! (6+ / 0-)

    Aside from Universal Healthcare, I cannot imagine a more important piece of legislation that must be passed as soon as possible.  

    EFCA will give rights to workers that will restore strong unions in this country.  Strong unions not only help the middle class earn more, and help other people up the ladder out of poverty, but they also are a key player in keeping a check and balance on corporations.  Strong unions have the ability to mobilize and make changes where they are desperately needed.  

    We must work quickly, and we must work together on EFCA.  Nothing less than a full Democratic vote on this is acceptable.  The Chamber of Commerce can spend every dime in it's war chest, but we're NOT going to lose this one.  Corporate America has kept the worker down for too long.  No more.  Hell no more!  

    Call your Senators and Representatives today- let them know you expect their support of EFCA unequivocally.

  •  Critical timing (5+ / 0-)

    As employers strip away benefits and blame the recession/depression, it will take another union movement just to restore what was lost. You know, without a union, benefits such as penions won't automatically return when companies start making money.

    "As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska" -- Gov. Sarah Palin

    by makemefree on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:21:16 PM PST

  •  Do not support this (14+ / 0-)

    because it will be good for the Democratic Party.

    Support this because it will finally begin to address the imbalance in power between management and employees.

    It is the right thing to do!

  •  this is an excellent diary (4+ / 0-)

    laying out the case for unions and why we need to make it easier for workers to unionize. Good work.

  •  I'm still unsure of one thing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, solotime, mamabigdog

    The Employee Free Choice Act would vindicate the original goal of American labor law by returning the unionization decision to employees. As Al Franken says, "Right now, there are two ways to form a union: majority sign-up or a secret ballot election. And management gets to decide which is used. The Employee Free Choice Act would protect the same two ways of joining a union (majority sign-up or a secret ballot election), but leave it up to workers to decide which is used." Emphasis mine.

    Are employers able to figure out how workers voted under either of these approaches; is anonymity afforded either way?

    •  Just Guessing But In Case the Union Won, Employrs (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dclawyer06, laurnj

      would be in a lot more difficult position firing people. Of course, if it lost, it'd remain as easy as now to fire all the organizers.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 05:14:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Technically, no (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dclawyer06, geez53, laurnj

      but in any "secret ballot" union election, any organizer worth their salt can tell you how every worker they're in contact with will vote.  People are wearing buttons, putting quotes in a newsletter, signing a "We're Voting YES!" petition, appearing at rallies, meeting with's a very public process, even under the status quo.  Getting "the count" wrong is pretty shameful for a union organizer or organizing department.

      And the boss hires extremely expensive union busters (ones I'm familiar with charge approximately $2,000 per worker, which is a hell of a lot of money in an 800-worker election!) who get all the unit managers to assess their workers in exactly the same way, and then help them harass and bully and cajole them into being against the union.

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

      by Pesto on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 05:58:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I understand that for framing reasons (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sui Juris, solotime, mamabigdog

    it is important not to validate the claims of the other sider, but I have been curious about critics' claims on this for a while and I think this is a safe venue to do so. Many, including, according to Wikipedia, George McGovern, have attacked this bill for "taking away the secret ballot."  According to how I read your Franken quote, it remains an option and the only difference is that now employees chose whether or not to use a secret ballot, rather than management.  Is this choice itself determined collectively via a vote, or individually?  Are critics who claim that this takes away a secret ballot being blatantly dishonest, or are there nuances to this I'm not getting?

    "While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free!" -Eugene V. Debs

    by leftneck on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:24:45 PM PST

    •  I'm guess that the union leadership (0+ / 0-)

      would decide which to do.

      •  No- it's up to the workers (8+ / 0-)

        There is no "union leadership" until the union is created.  

        In the card check process, the workers can sign a card stating they support the union.  

        If a majority of the workers sign cards, then the union would be enacted at that worksite.  

        If the workers choose to have a secret ballot, then they get one, instead of using the card check process.

        It's very simple.  No one is taking away the secret ballot.  EFCA just adds another road in addition to it.  

        •  And how do the workers decide? (0+ / 0-)

          Whether to have a secret ballot?

          •  if 30% want an election, they get it (5+ / 0-)

            they can ask the employer/union/government to have an election.

            if 50% or more say they definitely want a union, they get it, and can negotiate with their employer.

          •  This is from the AFL-CIO website (5+ / 0-)

            Which you can find here.  It's got lots of great info on EFCA, what it does and why it's so important.

            What is majority sign-up, and how does it work?

            When a majority of employees votes to form a union by signing authorization cards, and those authorization cards are validated by the federal government, the employer will be legally required to recognize and bargain with the workers’ union.

            Majority sign-up is not a new approach. For years, some responsible employers such as Cingular Wireless have taken a position of allowing employees to choose, by majority decision, whether to have a union. Those companies have found that majority sign-up is an effective way to allow workers the freedom to make their own decision—and it results in less hostility and polarization in the workplace
            than the failed NLRB process.

            Does the Employee Free Choice Act take away so-called secret ballot elections?

            No. If one-third of workers want to have an NLRB election at their workplace, they can still ask the federal government to hold an election. The Employee Free Choice Act simply gives them another option—majority sign-up.

            "Elections" may sound like the most democratic approach, but the NLRB process is nothing like any democratic elections in our society—presidential elections, for example—because one side has all the power. The employer controls the voters’ paychecks and livelihood, has unlimited access to speak against the union in the workplace while restricting pro-union speech and has the freedom to intimidate and coerce the voters.

            Once a majority of workers indicate they want a union by signing cards, the company should not be able to drag the process out for months as they can under a management-controlled election process. The will of the majority should be recognized.

            You can easily see here that the secret ballot is not taken away.  There is simply another avenue available to the workers.

          •  It is decided after card check. (4+ / 0-)

            The Choice at that point is bargain or have another election.

            You Suck at Photoshop.

            by thethinveil on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 04:05:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  They sign cards that demand election (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and not recognition.  All the workers I helped organized signed those kinds of cards, and did so deliberately.  It would've been impossible to demand recognition with them.

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

            by Pesto on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 05:59:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Essentially (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      what it does is let employees decide whether or not to have a secret ballot.  But the union will never want a secret ballot.  So people like McGovern feel is it creates an incentive for unions to intimidate the employees to go against a secret ballot.  Or so is my understanding.  I don't think it will pass.  The other parts will, but not that.  Rahm Emmanuel has been hinting Obama is willing to trade it for health care and enviromental reforms to big business.

      •  when and where has he been doing this bs? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Special K, davidincleveland, laurnj

        Rahm Emmanuel has been hinting Obama is willing to trade it for health care and enviromental reforms to big business.


        You Suck at Photoshop.

        by thethinveil on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 04:10:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  it's been refuted (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          leftneck, iRobert, thethinveil, laurnj

          huffington post clears it up:

          An aide to Barack Obama reaffirmed the President-elect's support for the labor movement's chief legislative priority in a one-word statement issued to the Huffington Post on late Tuesday.

          Asked if Obama's support for the Employee Free Choice Act remained as strong as his public proclamations suggested on the campaign trail, transition spokesman Dan Pfeiffer responded, succinctly, "Yes."

          The reaffirmation may not seem like a political breakthrough on its surface. But in the current political climate, in which the Obama team has steadfastly refused to comment on various legislative priorities, it does signal that the President-elect is not shying away from progressive pledges made during his campaign.

          Moreover, it clears the air of some confusion that was prompted by a statement from Rahm Emanuel in late November. Appearing at a Wall Street Journal CEO Council conference, the incoming White House chief of staff spoke opaquely about the so-called "card check" bill, leaving the impression to some that it would not be a priority.

        •  The guy below references what I was referencing. (0+ / 0-)
  •  Let's Do It! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thethinveil, laurnj
    And after that, let's bring in Employee Councils.
  •  Wall Street Journal says Arkansas Dems Wavering (9+ / 0-)

    Our two Democratic Senators from Arkansas, Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor are said to be wavering on the EFCA according to the Saturday edition of the wsj. We need to make sure Harry Reid and President Obama make this a priority.
    My Union the National Association of Letter Carriers is ready to go to the mat on this.

  •  Amen!!!!!!! (4+ / 0-)

    re: "With the credit crunch, and Iraq, and the health crisis, how can the Employee Free Choice Act be so important?"

    Corporations were screwing workers over during good times & they are more likely to do it in bad times.

    Corporations can change employee benefits at will - close pension plans, cut back on 401K matching, reduce health care benefits, tuition assistance, etc.ect.   Meanwhile the CEO's get more money than they know what to do with.

    People who are thinking twice about this need to remember an important thing -- in the Northern States, state workers are unionized.  (Well, they are in New York & I believe it is true in other states.)

    What this means is that those unions get to bargain raises, cost of living increase, and generous retirement benefits.   Meanwhile, the poor schmucks like us who are NOT getting raises, are taking pay cuts, having our health benefits cut back, have to pay taxes to support these unionized state employees.

    When I've confronted unionized employees about this -- my taxes [that keep going up] go up so they get raises, but I don't.  They say 'just because some of us don't have benefits, let's not pull everyone down.   Well thank you, but I still have to pay my taxes or I lose my house and have to pay a fine and go to jail.

    Since state employees are so effectively unionized and are white collar workers, we professionals can learn a lot from them and could use their support when we try to unionize.

    It's no surprise that the decline in union jobs pretty closely matches the decline in real income for middle class workers.


    As an upstate New Yorker I want a senator from upstate New York to represent me!

    by HylasBrook on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:29:22 PM PST

  •  I have been in a union since 1976 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Special K, davidincleveland

    Our family has and always will be Union. Shysters have got blue collars fighting amongst each other-and I have to give them credit, unfortunatley they did a heck of a job. What does that say about the mentality of some blue collars-with friends like them who needs enemies.
    I hope to hell this goes through-workers have been suckin' hind you know what for too long.

    Your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore

    by Horsehead on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:29:30 PM PST

  •  Seems to me (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    auapplemac, iRobert, Jon Says

    that not having a secret ballot required in a bad

    Anyone who votes in the open for the union is subject
    to management harassment, and anyone who votes in
    the open against the union is subject to fellow-worker harassment.

    Why should anyone be subject to harassment by anyone
    else in this matter?

  •  In the long run, it will only benefit... (5+ / 0-)

    those having jobs that can't be sent overseas, which generally speaking are ones that require lower skills such as retail and transportation (sorry, teamsters).  Corporate America has already demonstrated they will move every job possible to China / India / Mexico if given one tiny little reason.

    The answer (IMO) is to put the brakes on globalization.  If you don't, propping up the unions will only allow the companies operating outside the US to sell their products cheaper.

    •  If Labor Costs Were The Only Reason... (7+ / 0-)

      ...companies moved offshore, there wouldn't be any manufacturing in this country.  

      Labor costs are less than 10% of the automakers' costs.  There are other factors at play, so a spike in unionization won't cause everyone to move production offshore.  

      "Dignified people, without a whimsical streak, almost never offer fresh insights, in economics or anywhere else." Paul Krugman

      by Dana Houle on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:36:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  correct jwright, which is why unions are archaic (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jon Says

      but you cant stop globalization. thats a head in the sand approach.

      google earth china and flyover shanghai and you'll soon realize why american unions are bad for the working class...

      if you run a company and it unionizes and all of a sudden youre paying your folks in america 20% more guess what city looks 20% better for your next plant? well it aint birmingham...

      its fucking bangalore is what looks better and thats where the jobs go if we make the damn american cities even tougher for companies to bottom line. im a democrat and im sorry but i do not support this one bit

  •  How odd (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davidincleveland, Phil S 33, Mumsty

    that you mention A. Philip Randolph. Not two hours ago I was on the Internet Archive site listening to a conversation between him and FDR:

    Internet Archive

    I'd never heard of him before today. What a strange coincidence.

    Nobody cares that you made the reclist for the 1st, 3rd or 45th time. Please make a note of it.

    by MeMeMeMeMe on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:33:28 PM PST

  •  The Rights of Workers have never been secure. (6+ / 0-)

    The Effects of the Southern Gulag on U.S. Labor Movement:   One key fact Blackmon emphasizes is that the convict slave system was completely integrated into the most advanced industrial concerns of the region, including mines and other companies soon owned by Northern capitalists and corporate holding companies.   And everyone recognized that:

    "Coal mines, timber camps, and farms worked by imprisoned men couldn't be shut down by strikers, or have wages driven up by the demands of free men."

    White miners would launch a strike against the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad company in 1904; in response, the company shut down some of the free mines and opened two more mines using convict laborers--defeating the strike. (293)  This was a company that was soon bought by Wall Street investors from the North and supplied steel rails to the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific Railroads, and in the economic crisis of 1906, would be merged into U.S. Steel--with that Northern company becoming "the largest  customer of the Alabama slavery system."(295)

    When the United Mine Workers organized more than ten thousand free miners in Alabama in 1908, slave convict labor was crucial to maintain operations during strikes.   Almost all were in jail for incredibly petty crimes, such as riding a freight train without a ticket.(313)   At the pitch of struggle, 7000 white miners joined by 500 free black miners were on strike (many of the latter initially brought into the mines as strikebreakers).     Coerced farm tenants, themselves de facto debt slaves to landlords, were forced by farm owners to come into the mines to help break the strike.  "Trains loaded with black farmworkers from the Black Belt pulled into Birmingham every day."

    How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

    by hannah on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:35:24 PM PST

  •  Bravo and thanks from "Right to Work" state (4+ / 0-)

    Next to what Obama's campaign did for us in totally Republican/Chamber of Commerce, but I repeat myself, states, the EFCA will be the most important organizing tool we can have to continue to cut into the strength and control in our state by those who want to deny basic rights, health care, job security and fair wages and employment rights.

    I hope all those who supported Obama will see the EFCA as of the highest importance and work hard with unions on it.

  •  I don't always agree with all so-called (9+ / 0-)

    progressive positions but the right to form and join a union is the absolute bedrock foundation of worker's rights.  The Republican party will fight tooth and nail to prevent this legislation passing as the   success of their Southern State manufacturing strategy depends on preventing it.

    This is one fight where everyone who believes in equal rights needs to come together and unify.

    I was a member of IATSE, Local 161 for many many years and proud of it.

  •  This is how we create equality (5+ / 0-)

    The weakening of unions corresponds directly with the rise in income inequality in this country and the concentration of wealth in the hands of an ever smaller upper echelon.

    Raising the minimum wage and passing a better earned income tax credit are like giving people fish. Giving them the power to really bargain collectively teachers them how to fish. So it doesn't just address the problem of inequality. It builds dignity.

  •  This is the single most issue that will (4+ / 0-)

    affect every American more than any other I can think of, especially in these times.

    It is huge, and must pass.

    Great posting Trapper.

    2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

    by shpilk on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:48:06 PM PST

  •  A Secret Ballot Must Be Required (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    auapplemac, Jon Says

    I fail to understand how anyone can support any option other than a secret ballot. That is simply essential. We've seen far too much strong arming from the current administration on all sorts of issues. That the strongarming may come from Democrats wanting to increase labor union membership does not make it right. Clearly, union leaders - or the leaders of a drive to unionize - will want to force people to sign up. A secret ballot is critical; this bill must be opposed if that isn't required. And that's why McGovern is opposed to it.  He's right.

    •  And how is that "strongarming" done exactly? (7+ / 0-)

      The employer has enormous power over people's lives.  A union seeking to organize a workplace has none.  The employer's enormous, ovrriding advantage is unlimited access to the workers, while the union has to beg for a little of their free time.  No way the playing field can be level under current rules.

      •  Used to be physical intimidation. Remember? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sui Juris, Kcox

        Yes, it happened. Goons were hired by both the employers AND the union. Co-workers can also exert undo pressure making the workplace unbearable.

        I still prefer a secret ballot that limits the employers ability to use there intimidation tactics. Don't want anyone to be frightened into voting

        It should be a truly clean and fair vote.

        It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

        by auapplemac on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 04:11:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Which is a felony (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and will be investigated by the police and harshly punished by the criminal justice system.  Do you honestly think some 26-year-old organizer is going to do 7-10 years in prison for threatening someone into signing a card?

          I still prefer a secret ballot that limits the employers ability to use there intimidation tactics. Don't want anyone to be frightened into voting

          It should be a truly clean and fair vote.

          Great.  Well, the system that allegedly does that is utterly, completely broken.  If you want some kind of workable voting-booth system, then you need to explain in detail exactly how you want the law changed in order to accomplish that -- and it has to be a system that's been a proven success, just like majority sign-up has been over decades.

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

          by Pesto on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 05:28:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Unions also use strong arm tactics (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jon Says

            Using the card sign up is going to result in workers being strong armed into agreeing to have a union represent their interests that may have a dubious record and with virtually no oversight.

            I agree that unions are important to the progressive agenda, but its important to consider the long record of union corruption and abusive practices.

            •  Strong-arm how? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              You're not answering the question: how does an organizer "strong-arm" a worker in a way that isn't already a serious felony under common criminal statutes?

              Hundreds of thousands of workers have organized with majority-sign up over the last decade or so.  I'll await your proof of "strong-arming" in those instances.

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

              by Pesto on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 06:30:17 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Unions organizers don't necessarily do it. They (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                hire professional thugs to do the "leaning on." You can't ignore the history of this.

                In recent years there may not have been as much strong arming, because union strength has diminished.

                But there also can be intimidation by co-workers. You feel you can't go against the others. It corrupts the work environment.

                I am pro union as long as both sides act in good faith and neither side can act against a worker whether it's someone who wants to vote yea or nay.

                That's the kind of law i want to see passed and enforced.

                It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

                by auapplemac on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 04:21:54 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  You miss the point (8+ / 0-)

      and are ill-informed.  The workers get to decide if they want a secret ballot.  That choice is left up to them.  

      Let me be clearer:

      Either 50% of the workers sign cards to join the union in the card check process OR

      30% of the workers state they want a secret ballot.  

      That's it.  The secret ballot stays intact, and has a lower threshold to boot.  

      And if you think the corporations of America aren't strong arming their workers into not organizing, then you're naive too.

      •  That's still cherry-picking the point... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jon Says

        No group of employees will EVER AGAIN ask for a secret ballot election when they have 30%. They will ALWAYS work for 50% and automatic recognition. The secret ballot stays intact as you say. What you miss is that it will never again be used. There's absolutely no reason to ask for an election when simply convincing another 20% of the workers to "sign a card" grants automatic recognition. Both sides need to be upfront about this.

        •  what do you have against simple majorities? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pesto, Special K, mamabigdog

          why can't a majority of employees come together if they want?  why must they again prove a majority want a union when they already have majority support?

          if your answer is "unions can intimidate workers" into signing cards, ask yourself: what good does it do unions to intimidate their own members?  it's a movie myth far from reality.

          besides, this process - majority sign-up - is currently used more frequently than "secret ballot elections" are.

          Since 2003, more than half a million Americans formed unions through majority sign-up, an efficient, fair and democratic union organizing process where employers recognize unions if a majority of employees demonstrate their desire to form one.1
          Who’s Using Majority Sign-Up

          Majority sign-up has given hundreds of thousands of workers access to a stronger voice, better wages, and improved health care. They come from diverse professions, regions, and successful companies in the United States, including:

             * 64,000 hotel and casino workers
             * 46,000 home care providers
             * 11,000 UPS Freight workers
             * 5,800 public school teachers and aides
             * 225 reporters and editors at Dow Jones
             * 162 nuclear engineers at Pacific Gas & Electric
             * 8,000 farmworkers jointly employed by Mount Olive Pickle and the North Carolina Growers Association

          •  Not to mention that card-check (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            zett, laurnj

            is already recognized in the state of Oregon for public employees.  There hasn't been a rash of organizing as a result, and the sky hasn't fallen here either...

            unless you count the record snow we've gotten in the last month.

          •  Well that's kinda what I'm saying (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sui Juris, Jon Says

            If the majority of workers feel that a union is needed to get and keep their "fair share" (whatever that means - I'm not debating that at the moment) then the majority SHOULD form a union. My point is that it's disingenuous to say that if the EFCA is passed that secret ballot elections are still intact - they'll never be used again.

            I'm not overly concerned about "unions" intimidating folks to sign cards - I'm MUCH more concerned about folks signing cards because they don't know what they're signing. Even today under current law, signing a card is a vote "yes" for a union, but you will NEVER hear an organizer say that. NEVER.

            •  As we see here every day... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              thsisnotanexit, laurnj

              it's your responsibility to understand what you're voting for.  The voter should do their homework.

              If you're going to sit there and say that unions should beg the argument of management, then you really don't get it at all.  I can see that you're not asking for management to do the same, but of course that would mean you would recognize that the power lies in management's hands now.  

              •  Agreed on the "responsibility to understand" (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                as regards what one votes for. Absolutely. What I'm saying is that I'd like to see the issue presented without using the silly "EFCA kills (or doesn't kill) the secret ballot" argument. Just a few bullet points saying 1. Stronger penalties. 2. Binding arbitration by a 3rd party (unaffiliated with the employees OR the employer) on first contract and 3. Recognition when 50% of employees sign an authorization card.

                No more hiding behind the "workers can still ask for an election at 30%" argument, because anyone who pays attention knows this will never happen.

                •  I don't think EFCA supporters are hiding (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  thsisnotanexit, mftalbot, laurnj

                  behind anything.  I think those who are anti-EFCA are hiding behind their false "no secret ballot" arguments, and drumming up false fear that unionization is bad.  

                  EFCA is out there, plain and simple for all to see.  We're not hiding anything.  It's the opposition who is making up lies.  

            •  IOW, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              a redundant, slanted test, whose nature is anti-Union and un-democratic, will never happen again.  Good riddance.

              As to your second point, it seems like an assertion that employees are incapable of making even the most basic informed choices for themselves.

              Please don't feed the Security State.

            •  WTF are you talking about? (4+ / 0-)
              Even today under current law, signing a card is a vote "yes" for a union, but you will NEVER hear an organizer say that. NEVER.

              That's sure as hell what I told people when I was with the CWA and the Teamsters. It's sure as hell what every organizer I worked with told employees. It's sure as hell what every organizing school I went to (the two unions and the Meany College) told us to say.

              So as nicely as I can put this, I don't think you know WTF you're talking about.

              "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

              by Ivan on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 05:57:06 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  The "logic" goes like this: (4+ / 0-)

            Employees intimidate themselves in order to strongarm themselves to 1) support organized crime and 2) vote for Democrats*.

            *Never mind that big-boy pants(tm) Dems have sold Unions (and employees in general) down the river for decades now.

            You master this thinking through imbibing Reader's Digest during your formative period.

            Please don't feed the Security State.

          •  I believe the argument is that (0+ / 0-)

            pro-Union employees might intimidate anti-Union employees into signing cards to get to that "simple majority coming together".

            I'm ambivalent wrt that argument, but this is the argument I've heard against EFCA.

        •  You are trying to deny a simple majority (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          thsisnotanexit, Special K

          when it only takes 30%, a lower standard, to demand a secret ballot.  

          Majority rules has worked for every other election held in the US- why shouldn't it be allowed for unions?

          Oh, that's right.  Because you're against unions.  IOKIYAR, I guess.

          •  IOKIYAR? (0+ / 0-)

            I'm new to that acronym and had to look it up.

            Methinks you're misinterpreting what I'm saying. I'm not making a judgement either way - I just want folks to be upfront on both sides of the issue - employees need to make this decision for themselves. Both sides are being disingenuous. Please make sure you fully read and understand what's being discussed before you ever accuse someone of anything - either being against unions or (by implication) of being a Republican.

            •  The employees are making the decision (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              thsisnotanexit, soundchaser

              Have you ever done organizing?  Have you ever participated in a union?

              We would much rather have people willingly sign cards.  The old days are long gone in terms of forcing anyone to do anything on the union side.  However, that is not the case with management.  They are never up front with the workers, and they continually lie to them about what having a union means.  Unless you've been subject to that type of harassment, then you have no place to argue.  

              The unions want the employees to have the choice.  Management doesn't.  If you're against the employees having the control by having a choice about how they organize, then you are by default in favor of management.  

              And having the choice doesn't force anyone to be any more or less "disingenuous" than they are now. The only thing that will change that is better enforcement efforts by the NLRB under new leadership.  

          •  Because in the secret ballot you'd need 50% (0+ / 0-)

            so it's not a lower stranded.

            "Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be kept by understanding." ~Albert Einstein

            by Futuristic Dreamer on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 04:53:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You need 30% to demand secret ballot (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              thsisnotanexit, Jon Says

              That way, every single worker has to vote.  

              Then the secret ballot would be won by simple majority.  That is the same principle of every election held in this country.  Are you proposing a lower standard to make it easier for management?

              •  What? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                No.  30% to demand a secrete ballot, 50% to win it.  Isn't that the same thing you're proposing?  I don't see why a secret ballot is necessary at all, just allow card check.

                Btw: simply majority = 50%

                "Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be kept by understanding." ~Albert Einstein

                by Futuristic Dreamer on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 05:11:32 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  They have the choice (0+ / 0-)

                  The workers can choose card check with the 50% threshold.  This is typically used when there is already momentum for the union at the worksite.  There is no requirement for a up-or-down vote in card check.  It's yes-votes only.  There is no requirement to vote or sign a card.  It is voluntary.

                  In the secret ballot, 30% of the workers must call for it to happen.  Then every single employee must vote.  The side that gets 50% of all workers wins.  

                  Do you see the difference?  One is a voluntary vote, one is not... both will exist under EFCA.

            •  Once 50% +1 (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              is reached in card check, a secret ballot for becomes redundant.  It's only value at this point is as a union busting delaying tactic.

              "We have given them the precious gift of freedom"  Sen. Hillary Clinton, speaking on the 5th anniversary of Bushco's Iraq smash-n-grab rollout.

      •  I still miss the point; please help! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jon Says

        Either 50% of the workers sign cards to join the union in the card check process OR

        30% of the workers state they want a secret ballot.

        I don't get this.  What's to prevent both from happening?  If 50% sign cards and another 30% "state" that they want a secret ballot, who wins?  It can't be both, can it?  I must be missing something.

        BTW, how does one "state" that he wants a secret ballot?  How, and to whom does he "state" this?  And can he state it anonymously?

        I'm unclear as to the whole thing, I guess.

  •  So... what the hell is Employee Free Choice Act? (0+ / 0-)

    Trapper John, next time can you get in a description of what the hell you are talking about a little sooner. I've never heard of this Act, and I skimmed your article and didn't find a definition. I found a lot of blather about how important it was, how simple and obvious it is, but not .... what is it???


  •  secret ballot for presidential elections (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    auapplemac, Jon Says

    we have secret ballots for presidential elections and all other public offices.

    we had a secret ballot when I voted for my class president in high school.

    why should workers not be required to have a secret ballot when deciding on union representation?  we have a secret ballot when we have almost all other forms of group descision making in this democrocy.

    to allow the workers to choose either majority sign up or secret ballot opens the door to union strongarming and thuggery.  allowing management the authority to object to a card check and ask for a secret ballot is a reasonable check on this corruption.

    maybe it would be better to require secret ballots no matter what???

    the point is, we require secret ballots in all other important descisions and the same should be required of a descision on union representation.

  •  They won't go without a fight (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Sadly I don't see this bill passing.  This seems like the kind of thing the GOP will fillibuster and the blue dogs will kill.

    •  I think you're too pessimistic... (0+ / 0-)

      ...but if you  turn out to be right, I'll donate LOTS of money and time to the primary opponent of every Judas "Democrat" who votes against it.

      "If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare." Ralph Waldo Emerson

      by mftalbot on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 07:53:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Pensions (0+ / 0-)

    I preferred to handle my own money, in the form of a 403(b) or 401(a), the non-profit equivalent of a 401(k). Over the years I was building it, it went up and down by 10s of percents a year, sometimes lots of 10s, and of course is down considerably from where it was last year. But it'll go up again, just as it did in the years after the dot com bust. Lots of pension plans have been raided over the years in all kinds of ways. Guarantees are a good thing, but I don't have a lot of faith that the returns will be as good as those my 401 has provided, ups and downs and all. Of course, not everybody wants to manage their own and take the psychic hits involved. So I support both. It's a kind of diversity, to match that of people in the work force.

    •  pensions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the overall trend has been away from defined benefit pensions because it is always easy to promise what will happen in the future especially when you will not be around to administer it.

      with that, companies and governments have not been able to finance the promises made by the governments, union leaders and business of the past.

      the unions need to wake up and realize that it is better to only take on promises that can be delivered.

      history has shown that pensions are not promises which are easily delivered.

      •  What promises? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I have a pension (and a 401k) and I know vaguely what it will look like if I stay at my company for a given number of years, but only very vaguely. It depends on the market and the pension's investments.

        One thing I do know, tho, I'm better off than the schmoe who has to depend solely on a 401k.

      •  This is wrong (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mftalbot, Bush Bites, laurnj

        My Mom's retirement is set. My Dad's too. They were teachers. Of the checks they get, taxpayers put in a third, a third they put in themselves and third came from the overall earning of those investments--- more or less. And those investments did better than 401k investments because the pension fund had the ability to hire the best money managers. And my Mom and Dad didn't have to worry over their 401k the way I have to. And their retirement income is based on their service, not their investment acument. It's a good system.

        It is true that if we head towards another great depression there may be a cut in their benefits, but they will then be sharing the pain that everyone else in society is feeling.

        The problem you are talking about is one of excessive deregulation that allowed the boss to take money away from the pension and give it to himself or the shareholders.  Simple as that. The problem of underfunded private pensions isn't about unions needing to realize that the short end of the stick is all they should get. It's about a government that empowered employers to give it to them. The last two elections were about building power to change things like that rather than to ratchet back our dreams for the society we can build.

  •  Are the Spineless Gonna Pull the 60 vote fake (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:



    are they going to let the lying fascists stand there and read telephone books?

    A diary I did a year ago on who is this middle?

    In fact, there really isn't a middle anymore. There's people with some security, and then there are the bottom 80% or 90% of us who are a few months from living under a fucking bridge - BETTER than the fucking fascists like it.


    Table 684. Household Income--Distribution by Income Level and State: 2005

    There are about 111 million households, about 30 million are over 75k a year, and about 80 million are BELOW 75k a year.

    Table 673. Money Income of Families--Percent Distribution by Income Level,

    There are about 77 million families with income, about 27 million are over 75k a year, and about 50 million are BELOW 75k a year.

    Table 680. Money Income of People -- Selected Characteristics by Current Income Level: 2005

    There are about 233 million individuals with income, about 20 million are over 75k a year, and about 213 million are BELOW 75k a year.

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 03:58:36 PM PST

    •  "Judas went out and hanged himself" (0+ / 0-)

      I'll donate LOTS of money and time to the primary opponent of every Judas "Democrat" who votes against EFCA. I'll organize a site to defeat every Judas Democrat in their 2010 primary.

      "More and BETTER Democrats" indeed.

      "If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare." Ralph Waldo Emerson

      by mftalbot on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 07:57:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The biggest challenge to passing this act is (6+ / 0-)

    to make it clear WHY the secret ballot is a negative in these cases.  As evidenced by several commenters here; there is a belief that there is nothing wrong with a secret ballot---a point the GOP is driving home.  

    We need to focus on better education of the public on this.

  •  Great post, and an extra thrill to see Randolph's (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TracieLynn, zett, thethinveil, laurnj

    pic at the top. My Aunt Iona was Randolph's all around "gal friday" back in the day. She was the family "radical" of her generation.

    "Dialogue is good, sometimes even productive, but if you do not believe in equality, then you are not of this tribe." -swampus

    by davidincleveland on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 04:14:17 PM PST

  •  Secret ballot seems reasonable to me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jon Says, Kcox

    As best I can tell, the argument is that since employers get to bully the employees, unions should have the means to do the same.

    I'm sympathetic to the rest of the bill's aims, but I remain entirely unconvinced by the argument for card check.  Perhaps the reality requires a lack of honesty about it, but I'd like to better understand it.

    •  UNION BUSTERS!! (5+ / 0-)

      There is an entire profession devoted to corrupting the secret ballot election.  IF the election were held on the day of the petition (future card check), you'd see a vote very similar to the number of cards submitted.  

      With a card check, all that basically happens is that submitting a card for a vote also becomes a "yes" vote.  


    •  What are you talking about???? (4+ / 0-)

      As best I can tell, the argument is that since employers get to bully the employees, unions should have the means to do the same

      Where, Anywhere in this diaries comments have you seen the defense of this being "so unions can bully workers."


      News to me.

      Have you ever talked to an organizer? I doubt it.

      Organizers have to win a workers support. ABUSE - plays no role in what they do.

      You Suck at Photoshop.

      by thethinveil on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 04:25:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  your CAPS make your argument terribly convincing (0+ / 0-)

        First, what are you quoting here - "Where, Anywhere in this diaries comments have you seen the defense of this being "so unions can bully workers."?  I don't think you're quoting anything but your imagination.  Which isn't the best way to start a response.

        As I stated - quite clearly - the argument appears to be to come down to desiring a card check, because secret ballots put employers at an advantage.  Now, because ECFA proponents tend to focus on the benefits of unions while skimming over the process, I've got to do some guessing here.  And my guess is that card checks let unions target and pressure specific workers.  Which is essentially the behavior that you're condemning employers for.

        (And not that I owe you an answer, but yeah, I'm not unfamiliar with union organizers.  Might even be related to a couple.)

        •  Hold on there 'my friend' (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I quoted directly from you - and yes you equated a non-existent union's power to an employer's powers (which include firing.) You said you reached this conclusion by reading the comments here which I challenged you back up

          The process includes talking to them and reasoning with them, which is precisely what pointing out the benefits of unions - as the diarist is doing - does.

          Other than that, there is peer pressure in signing a card - true. But if peer pressure of other workers talking to each other results in something good well I am not opposed to it. Unless you are opposed to organizing in general?

          If you are related to a couple of possible organizers then ask them what they do. Us organizers give the person should get involved - there is nothing intimidating about an organizer. The onus is on the organizer to bring people over to their side - intimidation doesn't do that very well.

          My CAPS only point to the absurdity of your argument.  

          You Suck at Photoshop.

          by thethinveil on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 05:03:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  ah. ends justify the means (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk, Jon Says

            that's all you had to say, really.

            But if peer pressure of other workers talking to each other results in something good well I am not opposed to it.

            So you're not so much a fan of principles (like free choice, self-determination) as you are your preferred results (union control of labor conditions).  Thankfully we don't (yet) operate in that kind of society.

            Unless you are opposed to organizing in general?

            Ah.  A non-ironic invocation of "Why do you hate America?"

            •  What do you think peer presure is? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              thsisnotanexit, TracieLynn

              What do you think this site uses? (look to my recs vs your recs on this subject)

              What do you think the larger political process in general is?

              We don't live in a vacuum.

              And taking that last one out of context proves nothing.

              You Suck at Photoshop.

              by thethinveil on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 05:22:46 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  "Union control" of labor conditions? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              thsisnotanexit, laurnj
              It's pretty clear that either (1) you have never worked in a union shop (2) if you have, you never read your contract, or (3) are blowing smoke up the asses of people who know more about it than you do -- me, for instance.

              Working conditions are controlled one hell of a lot more by the employer than by the emnployee. Every contract I ever helped write, negotiate, or enforce had a "management rights" clause in it that stated, in effect, that the company could do whatever it wanted to do that wasn't (2) contradictory to or expressly forbidden by any other language in the contract or (2) against the law.

              Management has to bargain changes in working conditions with the union if the contract says so, and if the employees are enforcing their contract on the shop floor. Management will get away with all kinds of shit if the employees allow it. But the notion of "union control of labor conditions" does not exist in the real world.

              "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

              by Ivan on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 06:13:49 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Look you got recs (0+ / 0-)

              One from a libertarian and one from a troll. Good work dude!

              You Suck at Photoshop.

              by thethinveil on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 04:00:26 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Except for ENDA, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Special K
    I believe the Employee Free Choice Act is the second most important piece of legislation that must be quickly adopted by the 111th Congress.
  •  I have a question (0+ / 0-)

    and sorry about the cynicism in advance: If the current law is designed to protect unions and people find ways around it, how can anyone be sure the EFCA will be effective?

    Don't get the wrong idea - I WANT it to be effective. I just can't see how.

    "ENOUGH!" - President-Elect Barack Obama

    by indiemcemopants on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 04:25:20 PM PST

  •  Nate over at 538 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    had a great diary on Arlen Specter (R-PA), who may be the key 60th vote.

    For Specter, the first two aspects are not a problem.  He'll vote for cloture all day for the first two aspects, b/c he's fine with them.

    However, he'll be under some serious pressure from Republicans on the the 3rd aspect, the secret ballot aspect.

    If the secret ballot aspect of EFCA is dropped, it will pass easy.  If the 3rd aspect remains, it should be interesting how Arlen votes.  Time will tell.

  •  I worked for a major corp in the early 90's.. (10+ / 0-)

    and every single year, our managers would have a department meeting to show us that even though we were not unionized, our salaries, our benefits, and our retirement plans were 'on par' with top union numbers.  

    We all knew that without the unions out there, we would not have had the benefits and income that we did,including a very good grievance process that worked.

    With the demise of union power, our situation changed too, and by 1995, we began hearing about how we as employees 'thought we were entitled' and that this was a major issue.  Massive layoffs later, everything changed.  We did not realize that management had been having meetings with consultants about how to reduce entitlements (benefits and pensions and sick time).  When it all came down, everyone was shocked.

    We were for many years, decades in fact, propped up by the strong labor agreements that were out there.

    If we do not organize in the future, we will be reduced to minimum wage jobs, no benefits, and all 'right to work' agreements is what we will have--the right of the company to fire at will, to treat employees poorly and get away with it.

    Just my thoughts on organized labor.

  •  My question. Does managment have access (0+ / 0-)

    to the sign up cards to see who voted for the union?  If not why not?

    I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat. Will Rogers

    by thestructureguy on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 04:47:07 PM PST

  •  This is important in so many ways. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zett, laurnj

    But, most ironically, this is another example of Democrats bending over backwards to save the capitalists from themselves.  Here's how that works.

    If working people don't have some level of organized power to protect their wages and their jobs, they inevitably don't have much money to spend on commodities.

    One of the many hidden aspects of the present economic crunch is the long-term, structural nature of decreased demand.  This is the real basis for the 'greedy' and 'unwise' extension of credit to 'those unable to pay.'

    Unless something like EFCA comes into being, the downturn must deepen and the appeal of fascist solutions will inevitably arise apace.  

    Thus, even though we can expect no thanks for our efforts, we are actually doing our part, in passing this bill, to give capitalism itself another breather before it tanks completely.

    If we really want wage labor and capital to continue, eventually, we have to extend these sorts of rights beyond the borders of the United States, which, among other examples, the United Steel Workers of America have made a priority to study and seek to implement for over a decade.

    I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

    by SERMCAP on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 04:47:44 PM PST

  •  Keep honking!!!!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    everytime I see unions picketing,  I HONK my horn,
    I don't care what the issue is, I always HONK!!!!
    Unions are important in so many ways, some people just don't get it!

    Great Diary!  THANK YOU!!!

  •  DId you know? (0+ / 0-)

    that the Chinese government required that employees of Wal-Mart China join a union to protect them from Wal-Mart?

    As Kos would say, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.


  •  Free choice or not (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AggieDemocrat, Sui Juris, Litvak36

    I work in labor relations.  I've been familiar with the issues that EFCA would address for the past twenty-something years, from both the union side and from management side.  I'd like to suggest that everyone who really cares about these issues take a deep breath, read the bill, and talk to a broader range of people about it.  I am deeply in favor of an even playing field, of free choice; and I believe that some aspects of EFCA would be excellent and are needed, particularly the controls on a first contract.  Negotiating a first contract is difficult and should take a while, but it is clear that it has taken some employers too long to get around to business.

    Some other aspects of EFCA are very poorly thought out and drafted.  For example, the provisions on third party resolution of contract impasses are not nearly as complete as they need to be (or as complete as equivalent passages in various state laws), and there would just be expensive litigation to result.  There are many other parts of EFCA like that, but that is not the focus of this post.

    The focus of this post is free choice and the bill's effect on secret ballots.  If you want to promote union organizing, then doing away with the secret ballot is the way to go.  But if you want to promote truly free choice (with an advantage to unions, described below), then EFCA is not the way to go.  

    I have been involved, from one side or the other, with many organizing campaigns--in the public sector and in the private sector; by consent/stipulation and by election; when management didn't really care a lot and when they fought hard; when the union spent a long time organizing and when it was fairly quick.  The place where coercion most occurs is where one employee or union rep asks an employee to sign a card.  Many do not know what they're signing; often the meaning of the card is misrepresented; nearly all the time there is a well-grounded fear of what other workers would do or say or think.  Going directly from that point to a union might be good for unions, but it would have mixed results for employees (depending on the union, sector, etc.).

    Unions already enjoy a significant advantage in the card check process.  They can take as long as they want to obtain sufficient "showing of interest" to persuade the employer or, if the employer resists, to force an election.  And there are protections for union-supporting employees during organizing campaigns and elections which are far more effective in reality than most people think.  

    There are many excellent aspects of EFCA that, personally, I would support if the law were written a little more thoughtfully.  But eliminating the secret ballot would a serious blow to employees.  Preserving their true free choice should be paramount.

  •  Great numbers here (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chico David RN, laurnj

    I have yet to see anything other than rhetoric hinging on the "threat to the sacred secret ballot" talking point from the anti-EFCA brigade, while the AFL-CIO and researchers like Bronfenbrenner have gone to great lengths to document what really happens and what's needed.

    The numbers about what the unions do for this country are pretty clear, and no amount of fear-mongering can disguise that when it's laid out for everyone to see.

  •  interesting phenomenon in this comment thread (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thsisnotanexit, Gooserock, Pesto, laurnj

    That several of the little goup of anti-efca commenters have no other comment history at all, or a right-wing history.  My sneaking suspicion is that they are union buster employees who monitor the site for just such a diary.  I guess progressives get unions better than we thought

  •  Business' will close (0+ / 0-)

    Well go ahead, you can then join the union. If your profit is so small you cannot share the pie with those that create your wealth, just get the f on with it.

  •  Do Employers favor secret ballot? (0+ / 0-)

    If so, why do they prefer that over majority signup?

  •  People from Ohio and Arkansas have the say (0+ / 0-)

    It will easily pass through the house, but in the senate, it will be close. If all the democrats vote for it, it will pass (once we fill all the vacancies) since Arlen Specter also supports it. However, Blanche Lincoln looks shaky on it, we need to flood her with emails urging her to support this bill. Either that or we need to convince a few more republicans to support voting for cloture on it, Senator Voinovich from Ohio is a prime target since he is from a heavily unionized and blue trending state, and should face a tough reelection battle in 2010. Snowe and Collins from Maine might also be able to be coerced since they are from a very blue state and more moderate.

  •  How do we get EFCA? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Let's look at the preamble to the NLRA that you quoted, Trapper John:

    "It is declared to be the policy of the United States to eliminate the causes of certain substantial obstructions to the free flow of commerce and to mitigate and eliminate these obstructions when they have occurred by encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining"

    "Certain substantial obstructions to the free flow of commerce" -- what the hell does that mean?  And what does collective bargaining have to do with it?

    It's legalese for, "Workers have been occupying factories, fighting armed insurrections in Colorado coal fields, organizing general strikes that have shut down entire metropolitan areas, and talking about socialism and worse."  The point was to pass the bill to keep workers from getting even more out of hand -- "You get to organize the factories, but no more sit-down strikes, okay?"

    Congress passed the NLRA because they thought that not passing it would endanger Capital itself.  In fact, that's the story of the whole New Deal -- it wasn't passed to save us from Capitalism, it was passed to save Capitalism from us.

    We'll get EFCA when Congress and Capital think that we're getting ready to tear the economic system apart, and that we'll calm down a little and allow Capital to continue to exist if they give us the bill.

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

    by Pesto on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 06:11:07 PM PST

  •  You could of also said (0+ / 0-)

    that when workers are paid more it can increase productivity so much that it can cancel out labor costs. And you could of used Henry Ford as an example:In 1914 he raised his employees wages to double the prevailing wage of the auto industry Thereby decreasing turnovers and increasing productivity. This allowed Henry Ford to cut the price of his Model T and increase profits.

  •  GOP talk radio biggest impediment to passing it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    steny hoyer twice had to correct fox anchor what the fux his face, that it doesn't get rid of the secret ballot. so the talk radio monopoly is able to dominate the country and create a myth/distortion and hoyer and others have to deny it as if it's true.

    the biggest impediment to passing it is the fact that reagan killed the Fairness Doctrine 20 years ago. the distortions and lies about it and unions in general have been spewing from 1000 am stations across the country and until progressives realize the biggest impediment to progress is that coordinated uncontested repetition the better.

    ignoring the talk radio monopoly continues to be the biggest political blunder in decades

    by certainot on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 06:32:29 PM PST

  •  His Statements VS. Dem Managerial / (0+ / 0-)

    Professional Class of academic go along get alongers =

    30++ years of getting our asses KICKED at the banquet table.

    the fact is, the longer you have personally made over ... $75,000 a year, and family members have income over that level,

    the less likely you are to KNOW exactly how those fascist fuckers are doing what they're doing to screw over us bottom 95 per centers and keep us working for peanuts.

    Instead of fighting the fucking fascists and their fucking lies and stealing,

    our party is filled with activists who don't want to be angry or bitter or negative or don't want to be like them ...

    so we keep electing and putting up with dishrags,

    and we keep getting kicked off the banquet table OR having our crumbs from the table taken.



    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 06:59:56 PM PST

  •  this isnt a good bill for the middle class (2+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    snkscore, Jon Says
    Hidden by:

    im not convinced unions have a place in the global economy. if the plants leave the US what good does it do to pay the employees 11% more?

    why are all the plants moving south? it aint the weather, its the good business climate. lets keep america strong and the middle class alive by god. i dont think attacking big business is the right move in the current economic crisis.

    •  What makes you think that will happen (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cville townie

      Seriously. UAW has done nothing but make give backs in an effort to keep the Big Three a going concern. They have as much vested in their success as the top brass -- more so because their parachutes aren't as golden.  Southwest is unionized, and they're certainly competitive.  All the Japanese car makers UAW competes against are unionized.  

      Greed for that last little bit, arrogance for wanting to always have your way without having to have input from the workforce, and massive tax subsidies are what's dring plants south.

    •  Enough with you corporate trolls. Exploit labor, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thsisnotanexit, cville townie

      pay the least you can pay for the real worker, while giving ceos and their sycophants vacation pay bonuses from the federal treasury. You practicing for an AEI or Chamber presentation? Or maybe fleshing out a resume for a Corker job interview?

      28/male South i got it. Bring back slavery. You lost that issue once already, Massah!

      2008 is So yesterday.

      by geez53 on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 10:01:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  God damn the South n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
      •  lol our unemployment is 3rd highest in the nation (0+ / 0-)

        thanks for that. im sorry, i just got back from china on a study abroad and i saw the factories in shanghai...i dont want more of our jobs going over there. the fucking ceos you refer to are going to send them there if they cant make the math work in america. thats all im saying

        i just dont want to lose any more jobs to globalization. i mean every textile plant in SC moved sucks bro

        all im trying to say is that id rather stay non-union and get paid 11 or 20% less and have a fucking job than unionize and then have the CEO ship all the jobs to china

        •  Wanna know how to stop that? (0+ / 0-)

          i just dont want to lose any more jobs to globalization. i mean every textile plant in SC moved sucks bro

          Put some fucking tariffs on goods where you know the cost differential is because of atrocious labor conditions abroad.

          Oh, right, you dixiecrats fought a whole fucking war so y'all wouldn't have tariffs. That and trying to keep slavery. You couldn't do that, so here we go with the Lost Cause again, this time it's free trade fundamentalism. Fine tradition you've got. I say let the South secede again, and you'll find out soon enough the choice is between actively protecting your economy and becoming a third-world country indistinguishable from those places your jobs wandered off to.

          Now, you personally probably don't believe that you have anything to do with unreconstructed Southern culture. But the attitude you are expressing is endemic in the South, and it comes from the same exploitative, self-righteous, anti-social mindset that led to slavery and the Civil War. I grew up in VA and I'm pretty familiar with the attitude, and if it's all around here it's certainly going to be everywhere in SC.

          •  Tariffs do not work (0+ / 0-)

            for 2 reasons:

            A. A tariff would increase the amount of money that would needed to be paid for that good, thus decreasing the amount of money conumers have for necessities or savings.

            B. The countries that that export that good would probably counter by enacting tariffs on US goods.

            The net result would be to pay more for the good and still have job losses somewhere else in the economy.

            People used to have the option to pay more for American goods, but entire industries have left the country because most people are not willing to do that.

        •  Also, some more facts (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          That 10-20% less you're being paid may not be enough to prevent your job from being outsourced, since kids working in China certainly make quite a bit less than that.

          The proportion of national population in the southeast declined for generations (along with the rest of the east coast) from the early 1900's through the 1960's or so. Some parts are still declining, especially away from the Atlantic coast. But with the rush of new jobs in the SE, more people moved back down south, even blacks whose families were split between their southern past and decaying rust-belt cities in the north.

          The thing is, southern anti-union management represents some of the very worst in modern business thinking, and now all of your new jobs down south are at their mercy, while your old jobs don't exist. You've traded good old American labor for jobs that you're afraid will disappear at the CEO's whim because he goes and tours China and gets shown a shiny new factory there probably with kids working in it. Any wonder why unionized workers today would rather keep their union?

      •  Disagreement = troll now I guess (0+ / 0-)

        So if tigersken brings up a good point about how unions fit (or don't fit) into a global economy, the reply is to call him a troll and suggest that he wants to bring back slavery?  

        The people who run a business have 1 job: to maximize profits.  That is how the economy on earth works.  Companies try to produce things as inexpensively as possible, and consumers get their products as low prices.  If I run a company and want to pay people 10 bucks an hour, buy my employees want 25, I have a choice.  I can either try to find new employees, or pay them more to stay, or move somewhere where people will accept 10 / hour.

        Employees have the same option.  They can choose to accept the wage, ask for a raise, move to another company etc.

        I am for more workers rights, but I don't think this is the right answer.  I'd like to see better trade laws to make us jobs more competitive, and more legislation to give workers more rights (union or not).

        Calling people trolls b/c they don't agree with the deomcratic line 100% of the time seems wrong to me.

        •  Not just disagreement (0+ / 0-)

          The people who run a business have 1 job: to maximize profits.  That is how the economy on earth works.

          That mentality is what is so amoral and wrong headed. A micro processor can do that. A sense of humane, compassionate, social responsibility is what has been so woefully lacking from our corporate "kewl kids". The worship of Divine Profit is the greedy sin that has led us to this dire precipice, once again.

          2008 is So yesterday.

          by geez53 on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 12:44:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  EFCA is a start... (0+ / 0-)

    Certain parts of Taft-Hartley, specifically section 14(b) which lets states decide whether or not to allow union-shop agreements,  needs to go down too. Leaving aside questions of social and economic justice for the moment, this would be an extremely shrewd thing to do for Democrats from a purely political perspective; Eliminating "Right to Work" and Unionizing the South would allow southern working-class voters to see the benefits of having unions, and get them voting for Democrats on a regular basis, forever undermining the Republican "Solid South." The Southern elites know this, of course, so expect a fight of monumental, and perhaps ugly and violent,  proportions over this; at that point, conservatives would be fighting for their very survival, and would use every means at their disposal to try and stop the effort.

    "If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare." Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by mftalbot on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 08:27:30 PM PST

  •  Thank You Trapper John, Toilet lover.. (0+ / 0-)

     I could be wrong, it has happened on several occasions..but..I would have expected to read a lot of anger and frustartion over the EFCA.
     I for one feel like putting in a lot of hours, tons of energy, and tank trucks full of fight for this vitally important vehicle that just may drive a lot of working stiffs to pick out a new model car every couple of years or so.
     This is a chance to fight the good fight..with purpose, and determination to finslly over come.

      Liberal and Proud in Sarasota, Floride..the Blue D

  •  Great Diary! (0+ / 0-)

    If I hadn't worked as an RN in a public hospital, I wouldn't have been a member of SEIU and I would not now have health insurance until I die nor a pension.

    "They had fangs. They were biting people. They had this look in their eyes,totally cold, animal. I think they were young Republicans."

    by slouching on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 10:37:02 PM PST

  •  Help my Understand (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AggieDemocrat, unionmaidn

    I am coming to this blog with a conservative's viewpoint.  Not looking for agreement, just open dialogue and an understanding of how we can get beyond our differences and work side by side to make our country better.  

    I have had numerous management positions during my life and while I am not against unions per se, I read with interest the comments from an earlier thread...

    I believe that unions contribute to the progressive political agenda and it is definitely correct that we need to reestablish the ability of American companies to offer secure, well-paid productive jobs to people with only a high school degree. BUT, imagining that unions can create those jobs simply through negotiation ignores the  facts: almost all production jobs can now be moved virtually anywhere in the world. Figuring out how to create skills among American workers and and innovative, high-value products that can't be moved to Mombai is the real challenge to improving the real wages and productivity of America's working class


    During my management stints I worked with some great leaders who I feel honestly did their best to treat all of the employees fairly.  In those instances I cannot see the benefit of having a "union" shop.  I can tell you that I was a member of a union when I first started working. I had to join in order to work there, and did not see any real benefits in being a member, in fact I barely made more than minimum wage, and most of the extra money I made went to pay union dues (It was while working for Builder's Emporium).  

    The difficulty for me is that I do not understand what the "value' is that being in a union provides.  Does a union create a product or a service?  Do they get involved in training our high school student's in a trade that they can take to market when they graduate.  A trade that will make them more valuable to a potential employer?  What service does the union provide to the organization that the members work for?

    I guess the simple answer is that they are they to benefit the worker.  The key question I think we should be asking is how does the union benefit not only the worker but the organization as a whole?

    Thanks for listening.

    •  Good Questions (0+ / 0-)

      If you mean organization as the company, then yes there are many benefits to being a union company.
      Working in the construction industry, my union has spent literally millions of dollars in training, offering the company a supply of highly skilled and productive workers, we are trained in a comprehensive 5 year apprenticeship program including basic skills and advance courses, OSHA training, all licenses and certificates, ect.
      The union also shoulders the burden of health care and retirement so the company does not need to waste their resources on these benefits.
      The Union apprenticeship and health care boards are made up of owners and workers to compromise input and  keep things fair and balanced. Also the union provides  labor/management relations
      I really could go on and on as the list of benefits     is long.
      Remember that if the owner of a company treats their workers fairly, pays them accordingly and treats them honestly and with respect there is no reason for a union

      •  Thanks for the insight (0+ / 0-)

        I appreciate the information...a couple of questions...

        1. What union are you a member of?
        1. The union shoulders the entire burdent of the healthcare and retirement?  Does this come from union dues or in addition to the standard dues?
        1. What happens when an employee is not currently employed?  Do they still have to pay premiums etc...
        1. What if I wanted to offer the company a competing union?  One that wouldn't necessarily cut employee wages but increase productivity and thus help the employer stay competitive?  

        I am trying to visualize the union as a product that a company purchases.  How does one maintain and improve the value it offers to the organization so everyone benefits>.



        •  More Good Questions (0+ / 0-)
          1. United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters
          1. The cost of the fringe benefits are not part of the regular dues of 2% of the workers gross pay, the fringes are paid by the employer. the 2% dues pays for the salaries of the union office personnel, the union hall, and training facilities ect.
          1. When a worker is not employed they receive regular state unemployment benefits (some locals have a supplemental unemployment fund paid for by the members).The worker still pays dues however at a greatly reduced rate, he/she is still responsible to pay for his/her own health benefits out of pocket but, in most locals the worker can "bank" any unused premium payments and use them when unemployed. Construction is a boom or bust industry, most of us are aware of this and plan accordingly.
          1. As far as I am aware there is no competing "union" but, the non-union is always a presence in the industry which tends to keep us productive and competitive, There is no "job security" in our industry, an owner may fire a worker at any time with no just cause, he simply lays the worker off.

          We are production workers, if we don't produce, we  have to go.
          As far as competitive, there are many pressures both on the inside and outside which force us to be competitive, remember that the company owner is part of the union and has a say in many of the programs, for example if the company is in the process of building a hospital and needs certified medical gas installers the owner may get the certification program rolling in the training dept. or if the price of the medical insurance is skyrocketing, the owner can work with the union to find a solution such as changing programs because the owner is on the board of directors governing the medical benefits.
          Also keep in mind that our competition, the non-union are bidding against us on every project, we have to be sharp to win these projects and strive to complete them on time and under budget.
          lastly, a union contractor has the option of withdrawing from the union at the end of every contract
           Thanks for your interest, GN


    •  unions' value=collective action (0+ / 0-)

      In the US, we have an inherently adversarial system of industrial relations. Do some corporate managers act responsibly toward their workers? Yes. But these are in the minority, as it often harms short-term profits to pay for a living wage, health insurance, proper safety gear, professional development and paid time off.

      Unions are the only legal vehicle workers have for collectively representing their own interests.

      "Representing the workers' interests" can include:
      --bargaining collectively for a contract which covers pay and working conditions;
      --filing and investigating worker grievances;
      --organizing rallies, informational pickets, and strikes if employers violate the contract;

      Those are the "bread and butter" union functions, which could be seen as benefiting only the workers at the expense of the company. However, unions also act as vibrant community-building organizations. I've personally seen them do the following:

      --Organize rallies on behalf of progressive political candidates;
      --Provide ESOL, GED and adult basic literacy classes for union members so they can advance their own careers;
      --Work with local banks to provide lending opportunities for union members with steady jobs;
      --Organize volunteer drives for soup kitchens and food banks to feed the hungry;
      --Work with neighborhood associations to pressure polluting factories to stop dumping toxic waste into rivers and streams;
      --Organize and march on behalf of humane policy solutions for undocumented immigrants;
      --Provide job training for workers to get higher-paying jobs in their trade;
      --Pull together local leadership and resources in the wake of a natural disaster and actually start the rebuilding process matching local labor with local employers.

      I view unions as a necessary part of a culture that is moving forward. It would be very sad to see them die at the hands of the Rick Bermans of this world.

      •  Clarification... (0+ / 0-)

        In your opening response you stated.  

        But these are in the minority, as it often harms short-term profits to pay for a living wage, health insurance, proper safety gear, professional development and paid time off.

        If that is truly the case then how does the organization recoup the short term, or long term, effect it has on profits as a result of the additional liabilities that will be the result of a company becoming a Union shop?  

        It seems as if the reason for the Union is primarily to benefit it's members.  When does it lock arms with the owners and management to benefit the entire organization?  

        I firmly believe that if the union recognizes that it is a product for an organization then it will organize itself in a way to make it a valued asset to the organization, not a potential liability.


  •  This is simply not true (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Federal and most state wage and hour laws don't call for overtime premiums for hours worked over 8 in a day -- but 93% of union agreements ensure that workers receive an daily overtime premium, usually time-and-a-half."

    Depending on your definition of overtime premiums, which MIGHT include extra benefits of some kind, the Federal labor laws most DEFINITELY make MANDATORY time and a half wages paid for any work performed more than eight hours in a day.

    The rights of laborers in this day and age are few and far between, but this is one bedrock that no state law can adjust, alter or outlaw. It's a Federal law, and this bullet point is false.

    You should make a correction.

    •  I don't know the law (0+ / 0-)

      but almost every company that I have worked for or with does not provide overtime premiums for a work day over 8 hours.

      But they do provide for overtime permiums for over 40 hours in a work week.

      It is a amall but important distinction.

  •  Firing someone who wants to unionize is illegal? (0+ / 0-)

    The article says:
    "In 25 percent of organizing campaigns, private-sector employers illegally fire workers because they want to form a union"

    Maybe that means the worker already had some kind of contract and the employeer just fired them anyway, but I am pretty sure that there is nothing illegal about firing someone because they want to form a union.  There are only a handful of reasons you can't fire someone, and that isn't one of them.

    Am I wrong?

  •  Defend this garbage (0+ / 0-)

    I would like a liberal to make an intellictually based argument about how a bill, which removes a workers ability to vote his or her conscience and subjugates them to union intimidation, can be labeled as a "Free Choice Act"  I'm all for unionization, if it is the will of the workers - that is there right.  But forcing workers to unionize is not Freedom of Choice.

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