The Employee Free Choice Act is going to be introduced into Congress on March 10th. Finally, a bill that seeks to set the table in a more balanced way, giving some power to those who actually make companies work, the workers. Big business is fumed, and so are their stooges on Capitol Hill. What! Employee rights! Just when we have ’em where we want ’em, insecure and underpaid?
The Employee Free Choice Act is just that – a way to provide employees the opportunity to make a choice. CEO’s big and small and their conservative political lackeys will cry loud and long beginning tomorrow. You will hear how undemocratic the act is, how it will undermine the very foundations of America. Wrong, wrong, and wrong.
The Employee Free Choice Act will not remove the “secret ballot” method currently in use for employees to decide if they want a union or not. It will merely give workers the choice. They can vote to have “cardcheck” be the method of selection, or they can vote for a secret ballot overseen by the NLRB. That’s what companies fear – workers with some choice.
Personally, I know just how intimidating and overbearing companies can be when their employees are considering joining a union. I have been at two different companies in that situation, and they both behaved so irresponsibly that to call them anything less than despotic is to understate things.
Imagine, after a long shift, having to sit through two hours of what is called an “informational meeting” listening to anti-union propaganda, only to do it again in a couple of days, then again, and again – and to hear, almost daily, that if a union comes in the owner will sell and everyone would lose their job.
Or imagine you mention the fact that the place where you are working “should have a union.” The very next shift you find yourself hauled in front of management and grilled. Sent to “training” to be educated about the ills of unions. And in a couple of weeks, you are fired for something so off the wall that the real reason is patently obvious, even though a few weeks prior you were considered a star employee and were in the manager training program.
Both of those scenarios have happened to me over the course of my working life, about 10 years apart. And both would be illegal under the Employee Free Choice Act. Workers would suddenly find themselves more able to effect their own destinies. Decades of employee rights degradation would begin to be reversed. Of course there is along way to go, and this act is only a first step. But it is a needed step whose time has come.
And just my luck, I currently work at a company that has just reduced our rate of pay. Essentially we were told that if we didn’t like it there are lots of people looking for work who would be happy to have the job. Is that the kind of situation you want to see millions more Americans face?
Don’t listen to those who will tell you the Employee Free Choice Act will take away your right to choose at your workplace. Quite the opposite – it will enhance your right to make choices. Don’t fall for the rhetoric of fear. Tell anyone who will listen that workers need to be trusted to make some choices. That in the floundering economy, when employers hold more strength over employees, workers need the ability to choose if they want representation. The Employee Free Choice Act will do just that – allow workers to make choices.
If the act passes, American workers can choose if they want a union. And they can make the choice to decline representation. Some measure of balance will be introduced into the equation. Workers have their rights trampled on the world over. It’s time America became a country that bucks that trend instead of being one of the biggest reasons for it.
Union workers, on average, make 30 percent more than employees at non-union companies doing the same work. They have far better health benefits, retirement plans, and vacations. Isn’t that something we could all use? Isn’t it time we stopped losing real earning power, stopped having to work more hours for the same pay, and stopped losing our health benefits?
This is a big one, people – and the big guns will be coming out against it. Wal-Mart alone has already spent millions against Employee Free Choice. All of our voices need to be heard. We need to be unwavering in our determination to turn around the war on the middle class that began in earnest with Reaganomics. Choose for choice!