Sunday, March 22, 2009

We Need Labor Law Reform

Millions of America's working families are losing their jobs and even their homes, while millions more are seeing their job-based benefits cut back or eliminated and their wages stagnate.

Our elected leaders need to tackle this economic crisis, the worst since the 1930s Depression. They must keep their promises to the people who voted for them—and we have to give them the support they need to make the tough choices. We need strategies that will turn around this broken economy for working families with good jobs, "green" jobs, re-regulation of our financial system and health care that works for all of us. But no matter what else we do, it won’t result in real shared prosperity unless we restore workers’ freedom to form unions so they can bargain for better benefits, fair wages and a better life.

As President Obama said in January when launching the White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families:

We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests, because we know that you cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement.

That’s what proposed legislation, the Employee Free Choice Act, will dolevel the playing field and make the freedom to form unions and bargain a reality. The Employee Free Choice Act will:

  • Put real teeth in the laws that are supposed to bar companies from intimidating, harassing—even firing—workers who want to form unions.
  • Allow workers, not management, to decide how they form a union and give workers the option of majority sign-up.
  • Require arbitration to end corporate foot-dragging when workers try to get a first contract.

The Employee Free Choice Act will level the playing field that today leaves all the power in the hands of corporations, not workers. And that’s not important just for workers who are trying to form unions: Everyone in the job market, including current union members who want to negotiate fair contracts, benefits from this “strength in numbers.” More union members means more power for workers across states and industries, leading to better health care, more pensions and fairer wages for all workers.

The corporations whose greed has driven our economy understand this, too. That's why Big Business and its corporate front groups are preparing an all-out, $200 million propaganda and lobbying war to block it.

The corporate campaign is aimed at spreading falsehoods about the Employee Free Choice Act, aimed at driving a wedge between workers and the unions that represent them. Despite the fact that nearly 30,000 workers a year are discriminated against and coerced by their employers during attempts to form a union (compared with fewer than 50 confirmed incidents of union misbehavior in the 70-year history of the NLRB), these shady front groups pose as defenders of workers’ rights, making false claims of union coercion.

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