Friday, November 14, 2008

Why Card Check Could Change the Economy

What is Card Check? Card Check will be THE most important labor change in the United states in a generation and a bill that encompasses card check among other things is called the Employee Free Choice Act. As of right now what happens if a majority of workers want a union? Currently, a majority of workers can sign up for a union, but the company can veto that decision and demand an election. This allows the company to fire or harass workers, and threaten that it will close the workplace, in order to coerce workers into voting against a union. I have seen it happen personally and I have been the subject of attacks both as a young worker and an organizer. One-quarter of companies illegally fire pro-union workers and 34% of companies coerce workers into opposing the union with bribes and favoritism. In 2005 alone, more than 31,000 employees were awarded back pay by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) due to retaliatory firings and other unfair labor practices by companies. Card check will allow workers to sign up for a union without all the harrassment.

Secondly, even when workers have won the right to be represented by a union, and even though both sides are required to bargain in good faith, companies can drag out the first contract negotiation process for years. And eventually kill the union. And companies face only minimal penalties if they violate employees’ rights to form a union or negotiate a first contract. There are several proposals floating around Washington to change this, but the best is called the Employer Free Choice Act. (EFCA)

Under EFCA, if a majority of employees sign cards indicating they want a union, the company has to recognize the union, as long as it is certified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This is called "card check." Additionally, EFCA creates a fair process for resolving first contract disputes and EFCA would level the playing field by requiring the NLRB to take immediate legal action to reinstate workers fired for union activity and assess triple damages against companies that punish or fire employees for engaging in protected organizing activities.

Here is John Judas of the New Republic explaining it in layman's terms.

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