Dec 18, 2008

EFCA and 1st Contract Negotiations

“44 percent of newly-certified unions fail to get a first contract.”

But this is crazy! Isn’t the point of forming a union to be able to negotiate the conditions of your job with your employer?

Yes. But unfortunately, some employers are so desperate to hold on to the unfair division of power that they’ll continue to deny workers their basic rights of collective action, even after workers have voted for the union! As we said before, employers like this are often willing to break the law to hold onto their complete control because the price they have to pay is so small.

How does this play out? Basically:

1. Workers fight (often long and hard) to demand a union election.
2. An election takes place, and workers vote to establish a union!
3. Workers sit down at the bargaining table to work out a fair compromise with their employer.
4. The employer stalls the bargaining process.
5. If the employer manages to stall the process for an entire year without a contract, the workers have to vote all over again for or against the union. At this stage, some workers may have become intimidated by the company’s strong opposition to the bargaining procedure, and they may give up on the dream of a union in their workplace.

Ideally, once a majority of workers have spoken loud and clear that they want a union by voting for it, their employer should be willing to come to a reasonable agreement with them. But in the case that they are unwilling to have a real conversation, Employee Free Choice Act would help the process along by allowing either side to request mediation by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). This mediation service would help the negotiation process along, and prevent stalling by either party.

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