Friday, November 21, 2008

The coming EFCA fight

The battle over the Employee Free Choice Act will be an early and bloody battle in the beginning of the Obama administration. The Chamber of Commerce and various other business interests have preparing for this for some time. Labor interests put together a tremendous showing to elect Barack Obama and Democrats around the country. What exactly does EFCA do? Ezra Klein explains and (not surprisingly) the GOP and business interests have been lying to you about it,

Card check doesn't allow labor leaders to forgo anything. It allows workers to do so. The Employee Free Choice Act does nothing to modify the National Labor Relation Act's provision ensuring that if 30 percent of workers want a secret ballot election, one will be held. That could even happen after a card check election. If three-of-ten workers are unhappy, they can call the union into question in a secret ballot election. Let me state that again, and clearly: Card check does not end the secret ballot.

What card check does allow, however, is for workers to forgo the long, drawn out election in which employers routinely fire union supporters, intimidate workers, put the union supporters on awful shifts as a warning, hire unionbusting consultants, and so on, and so forth. Power matters, and in a workplace, employers have plenty of it. But it's extremely odd to watch the Chamber of Commerce abruptly discover a deep-seated concern for the labor rights of workers. They're spending tens of millions to fight card check, but they are somehow unruffled that 25 percent of employers illegally fire workers who try to form a union. Why, it's as if they're not interested in worker's rights, or free and fair elections, at all!

This is quite right. For decades the deck has been stacked against workers and in favor of business interests who are free to break the law with little fear of retribution. EFCA takes nothing away from the rights currently enjoyed by workers, it only makes it a little harder for corporate thugs to harass and fire workers for exercising their rights.

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