Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Ross Eisenbrey (Economic Policy Institute) has posted an essay on the ACS Blog entitled "The Weakening of a National Rights Law," which discusses the Anne Marie Lofaso paper we posted on yesterday. Eisenbrey largely agrees with Lofaso's analysis the NLRB's recent "massacre" and adds these thoughts:
Lofaso sees Dana as a symbol of the Bush Board’s “vigorous resistance to union organizing” and potentially, the dawn of “a new era of government repression of unionism.” This alarming view might seem extreme, but the recent history of Australia shows that a hostile government can swiftly turn a nation’s laws from encouraging union activity to criminalizing it.
What Lofaso fails to mention is that the Bush Board is well aware that its election process is totally broken and has become a snare for unions and workers who want to organize. Employers draw out the Board’s election process to enable a campaign of terror against employees with union sympathies, subjecting them to one-on-one meetings with supervisors and captive audience speeches condemning unions and threatening terrible consequences in the event of a union victory, using local businesses and community leaders to attack the union, and firing or otherwise punishing union supporters. Employers know that there are no effective remedies for their illegal actions; there are no fines for violating the right to join a union. When the Bush Board hinders voluntary recognition it does so because most successful union organizing in recent years has been done outside of the Board’s election process.
Dana is one more compelling reason for Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which would give employees the right to demand recognition for their union upon presentation of a valid majority of signed authorization cards. The choice of voluntary recognition or an election would no longer belong to the employer, but would be for a majority of employees to decide. The Act would also establish monetary fines for violations of the right to join a union and give unions the right to have an arbitrator decide the terms of a first contract if the union and employer can’t reach agreement on their own.
Anne Marie Lofaso’s paper on the September Massacre makes it clear, however, that the Employee Free Choice Act, however essential, is only a start down the road to restoring union rights, union strength, and the bargaining power of American workers. Decades of bad law will have to overturned if we are to restore the balance of power between workers and corporations that the New Deal envisioned.
I suspect that we'll have many more of these interesting conversation as the 2008 election nears and depending on the outcome, even more afterward.