Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Employee Free Choice Act Momentum Grows


Employee Free Choice Act Momentum Grows

On the eve of a major national protest against the policies of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the union movement is making good on its pledge to make passage of the Employee Free Choice Act a major issue in the 2008 elections.

Last week, Alaska AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami and local Electrical Workers leader Larry Bell delibered 250 handwritten letters to the state offices of Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens, both Republicans. They told the senators’ staffs to expect to hear more from Alaska’s working families about the importance of the Employee Free Choice Act.

That kind of mobilization is spreading across the country as momentum grows to elect a Congress and president who will honor the freedom of working people to choose a union without employer interference. The act would level the playing field by allowing workers to decide for themselves how they want to choose a union. Current NLRB rules allow employers to determine what means workers must use to join a union.

Worse still, the NLRB recently ruled that employers that voluntarily recognize a union based on majority sign-up must notify the workforce that just 30 percent of them can petition for an election—even if bargaining is under way.

In a debate with Michael Flaherty, a partner in the union-busting law firm Jackson-Lewis, AFL-CIO Organizing Director Stewart Acuff (see video) says the Employee Free Choice Act is needed because the whole NLRB election process is:

… a process of intimidation and coercion. It’s old-fashioned worker intimidation in a very sophisticated manner.

On Nov. 15, in more than 20 cities, workers will march and rally at NLRB offices to protest the board’s anti-worker decisions and push for an end to the Bush board’s reign. They’ll tell the NLRB it should be “Closed for Renovations” because workers would be better off without it until a president is elected who will replace its pro-employer members.

In Washington, D.C., more than 1,000 union members, religious leaders and civil rights supporters are expected to rally in front of NLRB headquarters. Elsewhere, workers plan to march in every section of the country, including Los Angeles; Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; and Albany, N.Y. For more information on events in your area, contact your local central labor council.

Presidential candidates will be asked about their support of the Employee Free Choice Act during the national meetings of the Young Democrats, the Stonewall Democrats and the Eastern Caucus of the Democratic National Committee, which kick off Nov. 16 in New Hampshire. Workers from across the state who are fighting to join unions or gain first contracts will address the groups.

At the same time, local support for the Employee Free Choice Act is growing daily. Columbus, Ohio, is the most recent local government to endorse the bill.

In addition, the Boyd County (Ky.) County Commission recently called on the state’s members of Congress to back the bill. Two of the Boyd County commissioners are union members, one from the IBEW and the other from the Carpenters.

And working families are determined to defeat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentuckian who led the opposition to the bill in the Senate. McConnell faces re-election in 2008.

In Pennsylvania, Cambria County commissioners recently became the 12th local board in the Keystone State to pass a resolution supporting the Employee Free Choice Act.

Finally, in Arkansas and Colorado, working families and their unions are launching statewide campaigns for the legislation. They will begin by collecting handwritten letters from union members across the state and plan a voter education program on the Employee Free Choice Act at worksites and at local union meetings.

Also, in Arkansas, the state AFL-CIO is working to set up a meeting to give workers the opportunity to tell Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) how hard it is to join a union.

No comments so far

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>


(required but not displayed)