Larry Kerschner Writes

Employee Free Choice Act

    Once again I see the Chronicle is in lock-step with the talking points spouted by the right-wing media.  In a recent editorial the Chronicle correctly notes “The Obama Administration is solidly behind the Employee Free Choice Act”.   What the Chronicle doesn’t note is that according to a recent Hart Research poll seventy-eight percent of American adults favor legislation that would make it easier for workers to bargain with their employers.  When the specific three main provisions of the EFCA were described, seventy-three percent of the adults polled favored this legislation.  

   The Chronicle suggests that the EFCA will eliminate the secret ballot.  This is false.  Under the current law, workers can sign a valid written form stating their preference for a union.  The EFCA would change existing law so that an employer must recognize its employees’ union when a majority of workers have authorized union representation using majority sign-up.  Both majority sign-up and secret ballot elections have been in existence since 1935, but under current law, employers can ignore the results of majority sign-up even if one hundred percent of the workers have signed authorization cards. 

   According to research done by Kate Bronfenbrenner of Cornell University,  ninety-two percent of private-sector employers, when faced with employees who wish to unionize, force employees to attend closed-door meetings to hear anti-union propaganda.  The EFCA does nothing to change current National Labor Relation Act provisions that ensure that if only thirty percent of workers want a secret ballot election, one will be held.  Thus the EFCA does allow the workers to be in charge of their own organizing rather than the employers.

    Employers commonly  cause long drawn out election periods during which they will fire union organizers and supporters, intimidate workers, give union supporters the worst shifts as warnings, and seventy five percent  hire expensive union busting consultants.  Despite what the Chronicle claims studies printed in the Journal of Labor Research show that a large union presence in a region tends to raise wages for all workers whether members of a union or not.  Despite this fact, union members generally earn thirty percent more than non-union workers.  Union workers tend to work in safer environments as unions are more likely to require that employers follow Occupational Safety and Health standards.  Union members are almost twice as likely to have health insurance than non-union workers.  

   Over the past thirty-five years, workers’ productivity has gone up seventy-five percent, but inflation-adjusted wages of American workers –as published by the President’s Council of Economic Advisors – are now lower than in 1973.  The current system,  supported by the Chronicle, guarantees stagnant wages and increasing economic inequality.  Despite the claims of WalMart and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, America cannot survive as a low wage consumer society.  Most people in this country know that minimum wages, laws ensuring safety in the workplace, the forty hour work week, workers compensation laws and the Social Security laws were all a result of the unions.  Give respect to your local union members.

Larry Kerschner 3681 Cooks Hill Road  Centralia  © 360-880-4741