An Economy in Crisis
Declining Union Membership
Federal Laws that Hinder Collective Bargaining
For the sake of fundamental fairness and long-term economic stability, the United States must move towards a system of shared prosperity. The fruits of economic growth must be distributed fairly—with workers, managers, and owners sharing benefits.
In addition, Americans who are willing to work hard should be able to make a living, family-supporting wage. Our system should reward hard work and genuine contributions to the economy over capital gains based on speculation rather than true investment.
Since we know that a strong voice for workers is the best means to economic justice, we must protect workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively.
One solution to many of the economic problems we face is to give workers a stronger voice. The best way to do that is to make it easier for workers to band together effectively in unions and speak with a collective voice to management or in the public square.
The Employee Free Choice Act, pending in the U.S. Congress, would do this in three basic ways. First, the bill requires employers (and the NLRB) to recognize a union constituted through secret ballot election OR a majority sign-up process. Employees and union organizers may pursue either option. This increases the chances that a legitimate majority of workers who wish to form a union will be recognized.
Next, Employee Free Choice requires that employers enter binding arbitration with a new union if the parties are unable to agree on a contract within 120 days. The resulting agreement governs for two years. This is intended to provide the proper incentive for employers to negotiate first contracts in good faith.
Finally, the bill increases penalties against companies that break the law during organizing campaigns or first contract negotiations. Current law requires companies found to have illegally fired a worker during an organizing campaign to give that worker back pay from the date of firing minus the wages since earned from another job (and the worker has an affirmative obligation to seek other work). Employee Free Choice increases this to triple back pay; adds civil penalties of up to $20,000 per incident for willful violations; and provides injunctive relief for interference with employee rights. These increased penalties change the equation and provide real incentive for employers to act within the law.
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