The Boss has spoken and, for most American workers, that’s the end of the story. Proving race-based discrimination – or other forms of bias depending on what state you’re in – could get your job back but that’s not easy and takes a long time.
Without an individual contract, civil service or union protection you’re what’s called an “At Will” employee. And it’s not your will which determines your fate, it’s the employers’.
In fact, the United States is alone among “advanced” nations which allow the boss to dismiss workers for any reason at all. The best-known remedy to unilateral employer power is “Just Cause” provisions in union contracts, enforced through the grievance procedure.
Now, a Boston-based union organizer has a plan to expand Just Cause protection to nonunion American workers.
A state-by-state campaign to provide workers the right to a fair hearing when they’re fired would, according to Rand Wilson, do much more than reform employment law. “It would be a first step,” he says, “on the road to winning full collective bargaining rights.”
A Just Cause movement would:Finally, says Wilson, a founding director of Massachusetts Jobs with Justice and currently on staff at SEIU Local 888, “even if campaigns for just cause do not succeed, millions of nonunion workers will learn about the concept, especially if campaigns are based on ballot referendums, and the increased security it could bring to their lives.”
Shift power away from employers and put workers in a stronger position to fight for better pay and benefits
Expand the role of unions in nonunion workplaces
Give workers more confidence to form unions
Many good ideas and grand concepts have been developed over the past several decades by activists and strategists, dedicated to “revitalizing” the Labor Movement.
Here’s another one to think about.