Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Should Congress Pass the Employee Free Choice Act?

Politico is featuring op-ed columns on the controversial Employee Free Choice Act by two members of Congress, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.). As can be expected, Boehner comes out against the EFCA, while Sanchez comes out in favor.

According to Wikipedia, the EFCA “would require the National Labor Relations Board will be required to certify a union as the bargaining representative without directing an election if a majority of the bargaining unit employees signed cards, however, employees may still request a secret ballot election if 30 percent of employees petition for one.”

EFCA supporters argue that the act would protect the right of employees to join unions, while opponents say the proposed legislation would allow union organizers to coerce employees into joining their unions. They also claim that the privacy of workers could be violated.

Boehner writes, “Republicans support Americans’ right to unionize freely, and that is why we oppose this anti-worker legislation. Stripping workers of free choice in union organizing elections, this bill would leave workers open to coercion and intimidation — from either union officials or company management. In other words, rather than allowing an employee to make this critical choice in secrecy, the act would end workers’ right to privacy, making votes public for all coworkers, union organizers and employers to see — and that is simply not the way Americans conduct elections. Never have, never should."

Boehner says his party has a better alternative called the Secret Ballot Protection Act. According to the House Minority Leader, this piece of legislation would protect an employee’s right to a union election by secret ballot.

The Republican Congressman also accuses EFCA’s Democratic supporters of serving special interest groups at the expense of the American worker.

”Few rights are more fundamental to our democracy than the right to a secret ballot,” Boehner writes. “Even some of card check’s most ardent supporters, such as Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), have spoken in favor of secret ballot elections — but only when it serves their interests. Such duplicity highlights what is really at play here. This legislation is not about workers’ rights; it’s about satisfying the demands of Democrats’ special-interest political allies.”

For her part, Sanchez argues that, “This legislation gives workers more options to ensure they have the freedom to choose whether they want to form a union without facing intimidation and undue pressure from any entity. Several large companies, including AT&T and Kaiser Permanente, have voluntarily implemented some of the provisions in the Employee Free Choice Act, and the result has been a decrease in hostility in the workplace, which ultimately leads to increases in worker productivity.”

Sanchez goes on to rebut the claim made by critics of EFCA that the act would not give workers the right to have a secret ballot election.

“Opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act label it ‘undemocratic’ and claim that it eliminates workers’ right to a secret ballot election,” she writes. “This is simply untrue. If one-third of workers prefer to have a secret ballot National Labor Relations Board election, then they are able to do that. The Employee Free Choice Act preserves this option while providing the majority vote process as an additional way to decide whether to form a union without the possibility of the employer rejecting the result.”

I must confess here that I am no expert on labor issues. What do you think? Should EFCA be passed or not? And why or why not? Does the EFCA really help the American worker, or does it hurt him or her?


  1. Here's the biggest lie of them all: Boehner writes, “Republicans support Americans’ right to unionize freely,"
    Bullshit. Republicans do not support the right to unionize, mainly because unions support democratic candidates, mainly becasue republicans don't support the right to unionize and so on and so forth.

    Any legislation that will make it easier for workers to unionize is good. When there is higher union membership, wages are higher across the board because non-union companies need to be competitive if they want to stay non-union. American workers need a raise, and a free market that races to the bottom of labor costs sure as shit isn't going to give them anything but excuses for why they should work harder for less money and benefits. Unions may not be perfect. Sometimes they're a real pain in the ass. But I'll take them over corporate special interests in a second.

  2. The problem is that is allows the secret ballot to be eliminated. I had a friend who took a job at a tire plant... it was a post-college job and he just took it to make some money. He was asked to join the union. He didn't really want to. After a month or so of being asked to join and him saying he wasn't sure he began to notice things happening to his car in the parking lot like his antenna being broken or a mysterious flat tire or a dead battery. He soon left.

    If people want to unionize let them but allow them to vote by secret ballot.

    unions are bad for this country, they are killing the Big 3, they put Winchester Firearms out of business, and forcing employees to openly vote whether to join a union or not opens them up to reprisals from people who disagree with them.

  3. Uh, no. The purpose of this legislation is nothing more than an attempt to increase union membership. That's not exactly what we need in this day and age where labor costs are gouging our auto industry (Toyota, Subara and Honda pay lower wages in their U.S.-owned plants and produce far superior products, for example).

    The main problem with unions is that they're simply not as necessary as they once were. Why? They were too successful. Most of the abuses they formed to fight have been legislated out of existence (40-hour weeks, child labor laws, etc.) and that means they can do little more to represent workers than push for higher wages.

    And I've seen the wonderful benefit of unions first hand. Alcoa and Reynolds used to be the primary employers in my county and now they're gone. Why? Production costs went up, the unions wouldn't budge on salaries and the plants simply relocated to Jamaica where they could mine bauxite for less money.

    Just my two cents...

  4. Two words - Hell No! Everyone above already stated everything I would have said - no need to rehash it.

  5. EFCA does not eliminate secret ballots. But it does help keep anti-union management from intimidating employees to keep them from voting for a union. And y'all have been listening to your GOP masters for too long. The Japanese automakers DO NOT pay their employees significantly less than the U.S. automakers pay theirs -- it's actually a buck or two. What your masters don't tell you is that the numbers they include to make it seem as if there's a huge difference is that they include retirement benefits FOR RETIRED EMPLOYEES when they tell you US automakers pay more. And guess what? Since the Japanese automakers have only been in this country making cars for a few years, they have significantly fewer retired employees than the US automakers who have been here for closer to 100 years.

    Unions aren't killing the Big 3 -- the US automakers top brass have done that quite well on their own by refusing to make economical cars while padding their own pockets.

    By the way, Japanese execs make significantly less than US execs.

  6. Newswriter, you are wrong.

    The Washington Post, a well-known left wing rag, had an article last fall about this, and THEY showed that the non-union automakers pay their workers from between $20 - $30 dollars less than the unionized companies.

    If the proponents are right about not eliminating the secret ballot, then why screw with current rules? Because the Card Check rules they propose WILL make any individual's right to secretly oppose unionization public, where they become subject to pressure and abuse.

    Bad idea.

    I oppose it.

  7. I'm in favor of anything that makes unionization easier for groups that want to unionize but are unable to because of corporate threats and harassment. That being said, I don't understand this bill and how it solves that problem. As for Republicans being in favor of unions, don't make me puke. Their 3 lackeys above parrot the Republican line very well.



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