Wednesday, December 17, 2008

UA Student Speaks for Economic Justice

Here in Fayetteville, most working people understand that the ability to come together to achieve better living standards and ensure certain fundamental rights sustains our middle class and drives our economy.

Individually, a single worker can’t provide for the national defense, promote the general welfare, or ensure that the basic human rights to a living wage and adequate education are met, but, collectively, citizens can come together and work with management and government to build on our history and move the nation forward.

Today, the majority of young Arkansans, and youth nationwide, understand the freedoms that are necessary to continue moving our country forward, especially at this time of transition towards an increasingly service based economy in which many of us will switch jobs several times over.

That’s why we support the right of employees to have a choice to enter or not enter into a union. The Young Democrats of Arkansas have endorsed the Employee Free Choice Act. We feel so strongly that our support is written into our Constitution.

Senator Blanche Lincoln’s recent statements about EFCA reveal the political reality of the time, but what of leaders whose courage and convictions stand the test of time?

What of the lions of yonder who led a chorus of thousands to fight off any and all assaults on the middle class?

In reality, The EFCA, often framed as taking away the secret ballot by ideologues who stick to talking points in the face of facts, still retains the option to engage in the current balloting process or adopt the more democratic and fair card check election process.

Sadly, some, possibly fresh with a press release from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in hand, engage in ad hominem attacks and portray union leaders as intimidators or thugs.

While no one is perfect and we all sin every day, let’s take poisonous ideology out of the important public policy of growing our middle class and focus on real academic evidence and best practices.

The hard data is clear, almost all intimidation in union organizing drives comes from management afraid of union representation and the perception of lost profits that may ensue.

However, too many miss the reality that productivity and profit margins increase with better paid and better situated workers. The best human resource managers have always been willing to sacrifice a little in the form of higher wages for the returns that come back a hundred fold in better employees and production.

If grateful young Arkansans have learned anything from those that came before us, we know we must have the courage of our convictions to implement the common sense solutions our state so urgently needs.

Let us all pray that our leaders in Washington keep faith with Arkansas workers and seek the type of gratitude that stands the test of ages:

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me

Guest Contributor

Christopher Burks

Christopher currently serves as President of the University of Arkansas School of Law Democrats and can be reached at

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