Employee Free Choice Act as American as Apple Pie
Before you get lathered up and call me names, please read my view of the Employee Free Choice Act. Try to keep an open mind as you consider my arguments and conclusions.
First, the current recession has fallen hardest on workers who have lost their jobs with depression- like speed. These are the same workers who have dramatically increased their productivity and generated more wealth only to be rewarded with loss of jobs, falling wages, plummeting purchasing power, elimination of health-care benefits and cancellation of pensions. Meanwhile, corporate downsizing and offshoring are rampant, part-time work is the new norm and job-safety rules are being sacrificed as the recession deepens.
Second, opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act claim that it takes privacy, power and voice away from America’s working people by robbing them of their right to a private ballot in federally supervised elections when deciding whether or not to join a labor union. The truth is that there are two methods for organizing under EFCA rules:
- Majority sign-up: Under this method, workers sign valid forms indicating their preference for a union. EFCA would change existing law so that an employer must recognize its employees’ union when a majority of its workers has authorized union representation using majority sign-up.
- Secret ballot elections: Under the Employee Free Choice Act, workers are still free to organize using “secret ballot” elections.
Third, both majority sign-up and secret ballot elections have been in existence since 1935 but, under current law, employers can disregard the results of majority sign-up and force employees to use secret ballot elections. In fact, a company’s management can refuse to recognize a union even when 100% of its employers have signed authorization cards indicating that they want a union.
A 2006 poll of the general public by the Pew Research Center found that 68% of Americans believe that labor unions are necessary to protect working families. In that same year, a survey or workers by pollster Peter Hart indicated that as many as 60 million Americans would join a union tomorrow- if they could.
Fourth, in summary, here’s what the Employee Free Choice Act does:
- It gives workers a choice between secret ballots and majority sign-up. Once a majority of workers make it clear that they want a union, they should get a union; employers should not be allowed to negate the process.
- It strengthens penalties against employers who break the law. Too many unscrupulous employers get away with breaking labor laws because current penalties are too weak. EFCA would increase penalties against employers who illegally fire or retaliate against pro-union workers during an organizing campaign.
- It allows employers or employees to request mediation if they’re unable to negotiate a first contract.
Fifth, what the Employee Free Choice Act does not do:
- It makes no change to the current union election process. It amends the law about majority sign-up to put the choice of how to form a union in workers’ hands not their employers.
- It does not create a “new approach” to forming unions. Majority sign-up has existed since 1935 and major corporations like AT&T recognize majority sign-up as a completely legitimate way to determine the will of its workforce.
- It does not make workers more susceptible to coercion. Workers in secret ballot elections are twice as likely (46% vs. 23%) as those in majority sign-up campaigns to report that management coerced them to oppose a union. But only 4.6% of workers who signed a card with a union organizer- fewer than one in 20- reported that the presence of a union organizer made them feel pressured to sign the card.
Finally, across the country, there is broad support for EFCA. A Peter Hart poll released in January 2009 shows that 73% of the public supports it including nearly half of Republicans. This will be a major test for President Obama who pledged unequivocally last year that he would get EFCA passed.
The Employees Free Choice Act sounds fair because it is. But corporations that want to keep their employees from a better standard of living are determined to kill it. For instance, Crain’s Chicago Business reported on December 8, that McDonald’s Corporation is busy mobilizing its 2,400 franchisees to oppose the legislation. And that’s just McDonald’s.
Why is the freedom to organize into unions such a high-stakes battle? Because for millions of Americans who work hard and live from paycheck to paycheck, the union is the path to the middle class. Full-time workers in unions bring home 30 percent higher wager than similar workers without a union, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That doesn’t even count the huge advantages that union workers have in their health insurance coverage and pensions. These same union members stay in hotels, eat in restaurants and travel on airlines for their vacations.
Many employers will fight tooth and nail to keep their employees from having that kind of bargaining power. Kate Bronfenbrenner of Cornell University found that 90 percent of private-sector employers fight their workers’ efforts to form a union, and a quarter even illegally fire union supporters.
On Election Day, America’s working families voted for good jobs, health care for all, and the chance for working people to keep a fair share of the wealth they help create. They also voted overwhelmingly for candidates for the White House and Congress who endorsed the Employee Free Choice Act.
About the author: Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC operates his hotel consulting office as a sole practitioner specializing in franchising issues, asset management and litigation support services. Turkel’s clients are hotel owners and franchisees, investors and lending institutions. Turkel serves on the Board of Advisors and lectures at the NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management. He is a member of the prestigious International Society of Hospitality Consultants. His provocative articles on various hotel subjects have been published in Blue MauMau, the Cornell Quarterly, Lodging Hospitality, Hotel Interactive, Hotel-Online, AAHOA Lodging Business, etc. Don’t hesitate to call 917-628-8549 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Did Specter's political problems doom card check? in Salon.com
- Whoever runs in Minnesota stays in Minnesota? in Reuters Blogs
- AFL-CIO Says Employee Free Choice Act Not about Franchises and Small Business
- Majority Receptive to Law Making Union Organizing Easier
- When It Comes to Card-Check, Don't Believe the AFL-CIO by Laura Lee Blake of AAHOA
- Franchising and the Real Threat of Employee Free Choice Act by David French of the IFA
- Franchisees Unconcerned about Unionization? by Paul Steinberg