The Employee Free Choice
Act is a bill currently before Congress that would make it easier
for workers to organize new unions. It is a huge step towards fixing
the broken system that allows employers to get away with intimidation,
coercion, and meddling in workers' organizing. It just needs a few
more votes to pass in the Senate.
Recently an out of state,
anti-union outfit (see below on "UnionFacts") has been
flooding our media with ads depicting union leaders as gangsters
and saying that unions want to take away the private ballot for
workers. Senators Susan Collins and John McCain have been aping
the same language to explain their refusal to support the Employee
Free Choice Act.
is the Big Lie Campaign. Here's the truth:
* Labor loves the private
ballot; it's nonunion employers who hate it. Every year union
members in this country cast thousands of secret ballots: in local
leadership elections, national leadership elections, for and against
contracts. The Employee Free Choice Act is trying to give more workers--not
fewer--the right to a private ballot. It's the out-of-state, nonunion,
low-wage employers paying for these "private ballot" attack
ads that hate the private ballot. Want proof? Next time you're in
Wal-Mart--one of the biggest backers of the ads--ask a worker there
how many private ballots have ever been cast by the store's employees
on their wages, benefits and working conditions. The answer will
be--as it is at all nonunion workplaces--zero.
* If anyone's been acting
like gangsters, it's the union busters. Intimidation. Coercion.
Fear. These are the weapons used by virulent anti-union companies
and the "consultants" they hire to keep employees underpaid,
passive and without a voice at work. Workers who try to organize
are routinely fired, forced to attend long meetings in which unions
are maligned with no opportunity for rebuttal, and pulled into high-pressure
"one-on-ones" with supervisors in which they're told the
business will close up shop rather than allow a democratic workplace.
* The elections the ads'
sponsors are calling for are neither free nor fair. Imagine
a municipal election where only one side can campaign inside city
limits and has the power to throw out of town any voters who voice
the "wrong" opinion. That's the situation workers face
when they try to organize through the rigged election system.
* Organizations don't start with an election;
they start by organizing. If you wanted to start a neighborhood
watch or other community group, would you start by calling an election?
Or would you go door to door, talking to your neighbors and asking
them to join? With unions as with any other voluntary organization,
elections come after the organization exists.
* How would the ad's sponsors
restore the American middle class? With more dead-end, low-wage
jobs? Because that's what we're getting without organized labor,
the movement that gave us pensions and the 40-hour week, ended sweatshops
and child labor. Or maybe, just maybe, those low-wage employers
paying for the ad are more interested in keeping wages low and workers
cowed than in what they call, perversely, "workplace democracy"?
In August 2008, the Eastern Maine Labor Council
released a study detailing extensive private ballot voting by union
members affiliated to the EMLC in just the past year. The EMLC surveyed
26 affiliated locals and found that 221 workers were elected to
office by private ballot, including 13 presidents, 13 vice-presidents,
12 secretaries and 7 treasurers, 55 members of executive boards
and an additional 121 other officers in various capacities. In addition
private ballot votes on 22 contracts or workplace issues were taken.
These numbers do not take into consideration the fact that many
locals operate on a three year election cycle and that contracts
generally run for three years. If such a vote was in an off year,
it was not included in the tallies. View
the report, "Truth and Falsehoods," here for more details.
more about the Employee Free Choice Act and those deceptive anti-union
"private ballot" ads
More on the campaign to pass Employee Free Choice
about what we are doing to win