Crossposted from Hillbilly Report.
It is no secret that corporate America will do anything to stop the Employee Free Choice Act. They have become spoiled, fat and sassy off the virtual slave labor they so very much love to exploit. Then, when American workers do exercise their god-given right to negotiate a fair contract, corporate entities do everything in their power to circumvent the process.
Kate Bronfenbrenner had a great article last week in the Washington Post exposing this process:
Angel Warner, an employee at a Rite Aid distribution center, sat next to me recently in a congressional briefing room and described what happened when she and her fellow workers tried to form a union in their California workplace. She talked about the surveillance, constant threats and harassment they endured; how she and other workers were repeatedly taken aside and interrogated, one on one, about how they planned to vote; how two co-workers were fired; and how the rest lived in fear that any day they, too, might get a pink slip. The union filed numerous charges of unfair labor practices and eventually won the organizing election. But three years after the campaign began, Warner and her fellow Rite Aid workers still don't have a contract.
Like most U.S. companies, Rite Aid takes full advantage of current labor law to try to keep workers from exercising their full rights to organize and collectively bargain under the National Labor Relations Act. Far from an aberration, such behavior by U.S. companies during union organizing campaigns has become routine, and our nation's labor laws neither protect workers' rights nor provide disincentives for employers to stop disregarding those rights.
The statistics in this War on Workers can be simply staggering:
In 34 percent of the elections I studied, companies fired employees for union activity. In 57 percent of elections, employers threatened to shut down all or part of their facilities, and in 47 percent, employers threatened to cut wages and benefits.
In 63 percent of campaigns, supervisors met with workers one on one and interrogated them about their union activity or whether they or others were supporting the union. In 54 percent of the elections, supervisors used these one-on-ones to threaten individual workers.
A key aspect of proposed labor law reform, the Employee Free Choice Act, concerns revisions to the rules surrounding arbitration of the first contract. My findings show that this provision may be among the most crucial of the legislation. Fifty-two percent of workers who form a union are still without a contract a year after they win an election, I found, and 37 percent remain without a contract two years after the election. For employers, labor law provides yet another means to indefinitely delay unionization.
She goes on to detail the uphill battle faced by millions of American workers who just want fair wages and benefits as compared to profits for their labors:
For the vast majority of workers who want to join unions today, the right to organize and bargain collectively -- free from coercion, intimidation and retaliation -- is at best a promise indefinitely deferred. In election campaigns overseen by the National Labor Relations Board, it is now standard practice for companies to subject workers to threats, interrogation, harassment, surveillance and retaliation for union activity.
The failure of the system to defend workers' rights in a timely manner multiplies the obstacles workers face when seeking union representation, creating delays that favor employers. Employers appeal a high percentage of the cases to the NLRB, and in the most egregious instances, the employer can count on a final decision being held up by three to five years.
She finishes by coming to the same conclusion that those of us who aspire to re-create an American middle-class have long known:
It doesn't have to be this way. My survey data from the public sector portray an atmosphere in which workers may organize free from the kind of coercion, intimidation and retaliation that so taints the election process in the private sector. Most of the states in the public-sector sample have laws allowing workers to choose a union through card check or voluntary recognition. And more than a third of public-sector workers in the United States are members of unions.
Unless Congress passes serious labor law reform with real penalties, only a small fraction of the workers who seek union representation will succeed. If recent trends continue, there will no longer be a functioning legal mechanism to effectively protect the right of private-sector workers to organize and collectively bargain. Our country cannot afford to make workers defer their rights and aspirations for union representation any longer.
But we are not alone. It appears as if many CEOs who are not eaten up with their own greed and selfishness realize that fairness is desperately needed in the American workplace to revive our middle-class, hence our economy:
(Washington, DC) — Today a new coalition, Business Leaders for a Fair Economy, was launched and announced its public support for the Employee Free Choice Act. The coalition was formed to give businesses supportive of workers’ rights a voice and to promote employer backing of the Employee Free Choice Act. The national group of employers, entrepreneurs, and business leaders says good-paying jobs create demand for the goods and services they provide, and that when America’s workers do well, it leads to a stronger, more sustainable national economy, which benefits companies from Main Street to Wall Street. Already, 1,000 business leaders have publicly endorsed the Employee Free Choice Act. The coalition is running a full-page ad today in The Wall Street Journal, The Hill, and Politico, and sending a letter to Congress calling for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.
Darren Horndasch of Wisconsin Vision sums all this up nicely:
America needs the Employee Free Choice Act. Not only to restore fairness to our economy, but simply put to restore our economy itself. More people with more money to spend will insure that we are not all shopping at "Big Box Mart" to make corporate CEOs who exploit virtual slave, and even child labor richer for their efforts:
Take action today in supporting an American middle-class and the Employee Free Choice Act: