On the Employee Free Choice Act
Rachel Maddow explains the latest Big Labor priority, the Employee Free Choice Act:
I will readily admit some frustration with unions, but much of my concerns are true of any organization – that corruption can exist in any organization, and that it is some times hard to see where your dues are really going toward.
But given that the EFCA will still provide both a secret-ballot election and a card-check option for determining whether a union is designated as the legally recognized collective bargaining agent for a particular workplace, the biggest drawback (lacking a choice) is no longer there (and to say otherwise, as the Republicans have been doing, has been nothing but a lie).
In fact, it is well-documented that workers are highly intimidated during organizing elections, and more often than not fired for pushing unionization. I’ve even seen positions switched from classified to exempt, or certain employees “promoted”, strictly to avoid certain requirements of a contract or collective-bargaining-agreement.
And what of the intimidation to sign a card? Really, what can a union official do other than not be friendly toward you any more? An employer can do the same, or dock your pay, or make you work longer hours, take less desirable responsibilities, or even fire you if you don’t cooperate. In the intimidation department, the employers are in a class all by themselves.
I am grievance chairman for a long-running, small employees union at my not-for-profit. Our organization has great benefits, and our union exists primarily to protect against losing health benefits or letting managers be more arbitrary in their discipline process. In a way, my $12 in dues each month more than pays for my medical insurance.
And in my time, I have seen managers act hastily or without thinking on matters that involved our contract. But more often than not, the managers use unions as an excuse, a crutch, for inaction, on anything from discipline to fixing morale to raising salaries. The truth is, at my work, if a manager doesn’t do something, it’s always because they themselves dislike confrontation and don’t like the supervisory part of their jobs – it’s rarely the fault of the union.
And why wouldn’t you want a union? It helps to streamline how you handle your staff (no more individualized employee contracts), gives you clear guidance on how to react to a problem or how to deal with vacancies being filled internally. And you only have to negotiate once for the rate of pay for all employees.
Is having a union always perfect? No, because seniority is an imperfect measure of one’s ability in the classified jobs. And some union officials might negotiate in their own interest and not others.
But if the only real complain against the EFCA is that some union official could force people to sign a card instead of letting an employer wage an intimidation campaign against the organizers, then that’s no real complaint at all – since the employees will be choosing which way to go.
So it’s really no excuse. Bring freedom and democracy back to the workplace.
And let the employees decide for themselves.