Employee Free Choice Act-What is it and why it is so important -by Livesoundguy

Dec 11, 2008 6:18 PM
Employee Free Choice Act-What is it and why it is so important
If only one bill makes it way through to passage in Congress during their next session, it should be the Employee Free Choice Act. Unless you are a union activist, or a worker who is trying to organize a union in their workplace, you probably have no idea what the EFCA is, or why it is so important.

In a perfect world, where the basic human rights of the working person were respected, there would be no reason to have labor unions. We don’t live in a perfect world. In fact, more workers than ever before need labor unions because without them, workers are unable to collectively bargain with employers for decent wages, safe working conditions, healthcare benefits for themselves and their families, and retirement pensions.

In the business world, labor is simply thought of as a cost to be contained. The ivory tower of highly paid executives gives little or no thought to the idea that the labor cost numbers reflected on their profit and loss spreadsheet actually represent people. If they were to look beyond the numbers, and understand that people are important, more important than stockholder equity, or corporate profits, there would be no need for labor unions. But that is not the real world.

Over the last several decades, many states have enacted “right to work” legislation. The direct result of this legislation has been to allow workers to benefit directly from union negotiated collective bargaining agreements, without having to join the union, and pay membership dues. Union treasuries have lost millions of dollars, and with this, they have lost much of their power. Most unions now have significantly fewer members. There is little motivation for workers to join unions when they can get the same pay and benefits as the union members get without having to join the union.

Ultimately, the purpose of “right to work” legislation was to push labor unions to the brink. With fewer members, unions have less clout in the form of bargaining power with employers. This means fewer employee pay increases, less healthcare coverage, and little money for retirement pensions. All of this has been good for corporate execuitves and bad for workers and unions.

Today, when many workers attempt to organize their workplace, they meet tremendous resistance from employers. It is typical for employers to force employees to attend “educational meetings” where they must listen to anti-union propaganda, and for them to hear that a labor union will force the company to go bankrupt and they will lose their jobs. It is also not unusual to hear about union organizers getting fired from their jobs, simply because they want to join a union.

The Employee Free Choice Act would go a long way towards righting some of these wrongs. President-elect Obama has promised that he would sign the bill if it is approved by Congress. Under the terms of the bill, workers would be free to hold an election to join a union, and with a simple majority, the union would immediately be able to engage in collective bargaining with the employer.

Many misconceptions exist about unions. Many are old stereotypes about corruption that are outdated and simply untrue. Labor unions do not seek to have employers go out of business. That is foolishness, and runs counter to the goals of providing workers with employment security. The goal of the labor union movement is to provide workers and their families with a decent life. It is time we see labor in human terms. We need the Employee Free Choice Act to become law so that workers and their unions can work together to improve the quality of life for working Americans.

When I took my oath as a union member of an AFL-CIO affiliated union, I promised that, “the will of the majority I will always abide by”. That is at the center of my beliefs as an American. We live in a free society with a democratically elected government. As workers, we should have the same right to govern ourselves within our workplace.

Write your members of Congress today and tell them how important passing the Employee Free Choice Act is to you. With your help, we can get this bill signed into law, and improve the lives of millions of working Americans.

2 Responses to “Employee Free Choice Act-What is it and why it is so important -by Livesoundguy”

  • Kelly:

    I still don’t understand the provision that the right keeps crying about that will “take away the right for a secret ballot.” I know there must be more to it than that but i don’t understand the reasoning behind it. Both sides agree that it would increase union members so i can see why big business would be against that but not sure what’s in it for the workers.

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