Argument: Employee Free Choice Act responds to worsening conditions for workers

Issue Report: Employee Free Choice Act


Bob Bussel, director of the Labor Education and Research Center at the University of Oregon. “Why the Employee Free Choice Act Is Good for America”. – The balance of power in America has shifted dramatically over the last three decades, leaving a growing gap between the rich and poor, subjecting the middle class to what New York Times writer Steven Greenhouse has called “the big squeeze,” and creating many more “disposable Americans,” to use the term of Louis Uchitelle, another Times reporter. The passage of the Employee Free Choice Act will not by itself turn this situation around. However, it is a necessary first step toward restoring the middle class, renewing faith in the American Dream, and ensuring respect for the rights of America’s

Employer Free Choice Act. American Rights at Work – America’s workers are struggling to make ends meet. Paychecks are shrinking and health care is skyrocketing while CEOs earn millions. In today’s economy, we need policies that give workers a fair shake.

The Employee Free Choice Act will make it easier for men and women to join a union in their workplace. The legislation would give workers a fair and direct path to form unions through majority sign-up, help employees secure a contract with their employer in a reasonable period of time, and toughen penalties against employers who violate their workers’ rights.

The Employee Free Choice Act can restore the balance, giving more workers a chance to form unions and get better health care, job security, and benefits – and an opportunity to pursue their dreams.

“US: Support the Employee Free Choice Act”. Human Rights Watch. 27 Feb. 2007 – We urge you to support the Employee Free Choice Act. This legislation would be a critical first step towards addressing the widespread violation of workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively in the United States.

In 2000, Human Rights Watch published a report documenting the systematic abuse of workers’ right to freedom of association in workplaces across the country. The report, Unfair Advantage, highlighted the many shortcomings in US labor law and in its enforcement that prevent workers from freely exercising this fundamental human right. Our 2004 report, Blood, Sweat, and Fear, focused on violations of workers’ rights in US meat and poultry plants and found that little had changed since 2000. The Employee Free Choice Act would help to fix key shortcomings in US law that perpetuate the abuses.

From Congresspedia: “Employee Free Choice Act”: State of workers declining; steps to ensure unionization necessary. During hearings on the bill in the 110th Congress, Nancy Schiffer, associate general counsel of the AFL-CIO, argued the bill was necessary because of the dimishining status of working-class citizens in the U.S. She stated [20]:

“Why does this matter? Economic inequality is the hallmark of our time. Wages have stagnated. Only 38 percent of Americans say their families are getting ahead. Less than a quarter say they expect the next generation’s standard of living will be better than today. Six million fewer Americans have health insurance today than in 1995. Meanwhile, corporations are reaping unprecedented profits. Corporate CEOs earned 262 times as much as the average workers in 2005 – up from 35 times more in 1978.[21]

Collective bargaining is the best opportunity that working men and women have to achieve individual opportunity, restore economic fairness and rebuild America’s middle class. Union workers earn 30% more than non-union workers. For women and workers of color, the union wage advantage is even higher: 31% for women, 36% for African-Americans and 46% for Latinos. Collective bargaining helps to narrow race and gender wage gaps. The union advantage extends to health care coverage and retirement benefits. Union workers are 63% more likely to have medical and health insurance through their jobs. Union workers are nearly four times as likely to have a guaranteed pension, and 77% more likely to have jobs that provide short-term disability benefits. Workers in low-wage occupations such as childcare workers, cooks, housekeeping cleaners and cashiers, have been able to raise their earnings above the poverty line through collective bargaining. Collective bargaining provides an opportunity for workers to bargain for a better future.”[1]

The Democratic Party. “Pass the Employee Free Choice Act”. – Democrats are committed to protecting and enforcing workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively. Collective bargaining gives workers a voice on the job, improves living standards for families and communities, and is the linchpin of a strong and vibrant middle class. But a quarter of employers fire union supporters during organizing drives. In addition, the already weak laws protecting workers have been further diluted by the Bush administration. It is no accident that as Bush Republicans have chipped away at workers’ bargaining rights, wages have stagnated, health care and pension coverage have declined, and income inequality has exploded. Democrats are trying to pass the Employee Free Choice Act in the Senate, which would ensure workers can make a decision about union representation, without employer coercion, and that once the decision is made, workers will get a contract. Urge Republicans to do the right thing and pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

Employee Free Choice Act. Campaign for America’s Future – Most working families are struggling to make ends meet. Since George W. Bush took office as president, real wages have declined, benefits have shrunk and good jobs have become harder to find. At the same time, basic costs—health care, gasoline, and food—have risen dramatically.

Workers who belong to unions receive higher wages and better benefits. Wages for union workers are 30 percent higher than for non-union workers ($863 median weekly earnings vs. $663). Union workers are 63 percent more likely to have health insurance (78 percent of union workers have employer-provided health insurance vs. 49 percent of non-union workers). And union workers are four times more likely to have pensions [AFL-CIO].

“The Employee Free Choice Act”. American Rights at Work – Why is this bill so important? It’s plain as day: workers are struggling in this country. Today’s workplaces are tilted in favor of lavishly-paid CEOs, who get golden parachutes while middle-class families struggle to get by.

The Employee Free Choice Act can restore the balance, giving more workers a chance to form unions and get better health care, job security, and benefits – and an opportunity to pursue their dreams.

[…] Protecting the right to form unions is about maintaining the American middle class. It’s no coincidence that as union membership numbers fall there are growing numbers of jobs with low pay, poor benefits, and little to no security. More than half of U.S. workers—60 million—say they would join a union right now if they could.

Why? They know that coming together to bargain with employers over wages, benefits, and working conditions is the best path to getting ahead. Workers who belong to unions earn 30 percent more than non-union workers, and are 63 percent more likely to have employer-provided health care. Without labor law reform, economic opportunity for America’s working families will continue to erode.