Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Academics for Employee Free Choice

University of Arkansas faculty from the J William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences held a news conference on campus today. They joined university and college teachers, scholars, and research scientists from both public and private higher education institutions across Arkansas, who are calling for public policy decisions to be informed by facts. Unfortunately, the current national debate on enactment of the Employee Free Choice Act has been distorted by unsupported assertions that ignore the available empirical evidence.

Arkansas Academics for Employee Free Choice today released copies of two recent studies that directly touch on arguments being made in the national debate. The first refutes the claim that the current process is working and documents increasing employer hostility to organizing efforts (No Holds Barred). The second is a survey of four states where majority sign-up is working, and it found no instances of intimidation by either employers or unions (Majority Authorization and Union Organizing in the Public Sector). "In brief, from 2003-2009 in the states studied, a total of 34,148 public sector workers employed in state, county, municipal and educational institutions voluntarily joined a union. Most importantly, contrary to business claims, in 1,073 cases of union certification and in at least 1,359 majority-authorization campaigns, there was not a single confirmed incident of union misconduct". They expressed their hope that Senator Pryor and Senator Lincoln will take the time to review these studies and become better informed by the facts.

In addition, a recent article from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that points out another failure of the current process that can be remedied by the Employee Free Choice Act. Even when employees vote for union representation under current NLRB rules, there is no requirement that employers negotiate in good faith or in a timely manner. Following the article is a timeline documenting the history of one corporate employer that refused to meet with employees for over nine years, and only did so after being ordered to do so by the courts and a long, unnecessary, and expensive legal battle. EFCA would encourage more timely good faith negotiation to avoid arbitration.

Academics for Employee Free Choice sent a letter to Senators Pryor and Lincoln. It is signed by more than 40 academics from across Arkansas, including 18 at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. The letter clearly explains the reasons why they support enactment of the Employee Free Choice Act to make sure that the economic recovery includes everyone and allows working families to share in the American Dream of a better life for themselves and their children.

AFSCME Local 965 members Betty Martin, Michael Pierce, Lindsley Smith, Trish Starks, and Stephen Smith were among those attending and participating in today's news conference.

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