Rabbis Send Specter a Message: Support Employee Free Choice

Today, a coalition of Philadelphia-area rabbis and rabbinical students will meet with Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter to make the case for the Employee Free Choice Act.

Dozens of Pennsylvania rabbis and rabbinical students signed an open letter in support of Employee Free Choice, organized by the Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee (JLC), and will deliver it today to Specter. Specter is a key vote in the fight for workers'; freedom to form unions and bargain--a fight that these rabbis know is critical to our economy and to basic fairness.

The meeting and letter are part of a larger outreach effort by the JLC to promote workers' freedom to form unions and bargain. These values, say a growing coalition of rabbis, are a key part of the Jewish tradition of supporting the dignity of workers and the strength of communities.

The new site, Rabbis for Workers' Choice, highlights the letter to Specter and includes other resources on Judaism, social justice and the Employee Free Choice Act.

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Fighting for Employee Free Choice

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been the hatchet man for the corporate business lobby in their epic campaign of doublespeak against the Employee Free Choice act.

Zach Carter of the Media Consortium outlines the stakes in a Huffington Post piece:

Our labor laws desperately need to be revamped. Currently, Capitol Hill's biggest battle for workers rights is the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would make it easier for workers to form a union without fear of employer reprisals or intimidation. The corporate executive class is lobbying hard against EFCA by claiming it revokes workers' rights to a secret ballot in union elections, but the bill would do no such thing. As the law currently stands, employers can force workers who want to unionize to hold an election in order to actually establish a union. EFCA would require that a union be legally recognized as soon as a majority of workers sign cards saying they want to unionize. Union leaders are still elected by a secret ballot, but the election is permitted to take place later on, preventing employers from using the election period to bully their workers out of unionizing at all.

A worker's consortium called Jobs With Justice is leading the fight on the ground.

They're launching a series of actions across the country to call attention to the Chamber's $20million disinformation campaign against the act.

There's an action in Philadelphia today. Full details in the extended entry.

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Memo to Wall Street whiners

The customer is always right.

As Ben Smith reported at Politico a few days ago, several large labor unions are questioning investment fund managers about their stance on the Employee Free Choice Act:

"Has your company made any public statements in support or opposition to EFCA?" asks one of nine pointed questions in a polite, detailed four-page questionnaire.

"If 'Yes,' please explain."

The detailed questionnaire has three parts. The first asks about fund managers' public positions, lobbying and political contributions. The second asks managers to "disclose any relationships during the past five years between your company and any organization(s) opposing the passage" of EFCA. The form lists 14 organizations, from anti-EFCA organizations like the Workforce Fairness Institute to trade groups that oppose it, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Roundtable.

Here's a pdf file of the questionnaire. More on the whining after the jump.

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New Study: You Won't Face Coercion if You Sign up for a Union

(Cross-posted from the AFL-CIO Now Blog.)

If you sign up to join a union, you won't face coercion or intimidation from your co-workers--or employers. Despite dire warnings by corporations against the majority sign-up process, a new study shows majority sign-up (card-check) protects workers and gives them the chance they need to form a union. It's another critical point in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would give workers across the country the choice about how to form a union and bargain for a better life.

The study, "Majority Authorizations and Union Organizing in the Public Sector: A Four-State Perspective," written by top labor policy scholars under the direction of Robert Bruno of the University of Illinois, looks at the experience of four states (New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Oregon) where public-sector workers have the freedom to form unions through majority sign-up. If passed, the Employee Free Choice Act would give millions of workers the option of using either majority sign-up or a National Labor Relations Board election to form a union.

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Workers Face Increasing Abuse in Attempts to Form Unions

(Cross-posted from the AFL-CIO Now Blog.)

Today on Capitol Hill, labor law experts and a California worker exposed the ugly truth about corporate abuses of workers trying to exercise their freedom to form unions and bargain for a better life.

At the center of the discussion: Kate Bronfenbrenner's new report, "No Holds Barred: The Intensification of Employer Opposition to Organizing," released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and the American Rights at Work Education Fund. The report shows that the problems the Employee Free Choice Act would address are getting worse.

Bronfenbrenner has studied these issues for decades as the director of labor education research at Cornell University's School of Industrial Relations. This is her fourth survey over 20 years, enabling her to put into historical perspective the obstacles workers face today.

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