Labor Built this Country - It's Time to Take it Back
by Teamsters, Mon Oct 09, 2006 at 09:24:06 AM EDT
Well this seems like something we could get done next cycle. Jeff Farmer is the director of organizing for the Teamsters. I'm going to thank them preemptively for our new servers, since that's what's going to keep this site running on election day. -Matt
Organized Labor was dealt another damaging blow last week by President Bush's cronies on the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB ruled 3-2, along party lines, that millions of nurses and other workers are "supervisors," and therefore excluded from collective bargaining rights.
The so-called "Kentucky River decision" was pretty much expected from the Big Business shills who sit on the NLRB. Not only will 8 million workers lose their labor law protections, including their right to form unions, but companies will be even more emboldened under the new expansive definition of "supervisor" to reclassify workers in their effort to dismantle organizing drives.
Our Way: Free Choice
I can continue my rant here on why this is another successful maneuver in Karl Rove's playbook to destroy unions, and in doing so, the middle class, but I think it's more important to find opportunity, especially with a Democrat-controlled House and hopefully Senate next year.
That opportunity is called the Employee Free Choice Act. Simply put, the bill would require employers to recognize a union after a majority of workers sign cards for union representation. It also would provide for mediation and arbitration of first-contract disputes, and authorize stronger penalties for violations of the law when workers seek to form a union.
And thanks to the good work of Gov. Tom Vilsack, the Democratic Party is unified on the bill with the DLC, Change to Win and the AFL-CIO. Democrats are finally waking up to the harsh reality that without a strong labor movement, their party grows weaker. Change To Win and the AFL-CIO are working to support its passage and it may even stand a chance with the improved outlook for Dems next month.
After all, as former Sen. and vice-presidential nominee John Edwards repeats often when speaking to labor unions: "If anyone in America can sign a card to join the Republican Party, they should be able to sign a card and join a union."
And he's right.
The right of workers in this country to freely organize and bargain collectively is one of the sacred freedoms we have as Americans. It is just as important as free speech.
We are only three sponsors away from a majority in the House, and we've got 42 sponsors in the Senate. See if your representative and senators are sponsors.
Their Way: Dirty Tricks
Big Business has eviscerated the strong labor laws in this country that protected workers and created a strong middle class. Companies now freely manipulate the system, terrorizing and firing workers who dare to stand up for themselves in their fight for a voice on the job and a stronger economic future for their families.
The so-called secret ballot elections are a joke. According to a report issued by American Rights at Work:
- 30 percent of employers fire pro-union workers.
- 49 percent of employers threaten to close a worksite when workers try to form a union. Two percent of employers actually do so.
- 51 percent of employers coerce workers into opposing unions with bribery or favoritism.
- 82 percent of employers hire high-priced union-busting consultants to fight organizing drives.
- 91 percent of employers force workers to attend one-on-one anti-union meetings with their supervisors.
But the threats and intimidation take their toll. The report goes on to say that:
- Aided by weak labor laws that fail to protect workers' rights, employers successfully manipulate the government-supervised union recognition process and abuse their power to significantly influence the outcome of elections.
- In 91 percent of union recognition petitions filed with the NLRB, a majority of workers indicated they wanted a union before the process began.
- However, unions were victorious in only 31 percent of campaigns.
Companies will do anything to prevent free and fair elections (Sound familiar? And you thought Florida in 2000 was bad). They can't compete with unions by offering their workers better health care, pensions and wages, so they turn to Nixon's bag of dirty tricks to get their way. No wonder union membership is declining.
Take the case in Texas, where the infamously anti-union, anti-worker Wal-Mart shut down its meat-cutting departments nationwide after a dozen butchers in Texas voted for a union. Wal-Mart also closed a store in Quebec rather than recognize a union.
At the Crossroads
Today, unions are organizing like never before by negotiating what are called "card-check and neutrality agreements" with companies to circumvent the unfair NLRB election process. That means companies agree to remain neutral, and if a majority of workers sign cards in support of the union, the employer agrees to recognize the union.
We're having success at the Teamsters with "card check and neutrality" agreements, organizing workers at Menlo Worldwide Forwarding, USF Bestway and UPS Freight.
But these successful efforts by the Teamsters and other unions are at risk of being derailed by Bush's henchmen on the NLRB, which has agreed to consider the anti-worker National Rights at Work case claiming "card check and neutrality" agreements illegally deny workers of a secret ballot election.
Our country is at a crossroads.
Will we continue on a path where the gap between the rich and poor grows greater with every passing day, or will we strengthen our middle class by strengthening union protections for America's working men and women?
Organized labor built this country. It's time to take it back.
Tags: Bush, Card Check Agreements, Dana Corporation, Employee Free Choice Act, HR 1696, Kentucky River, Kentucky River Case, Labor, Labor Law, Metaldyne, Neutrality Agreements, NLRB, Oakwood Case, organizing, S 842, Supervisory Employees under Labor Law, Teamsters, Unions (all tags)