Dec 11, 2008

What's Wrong with this Message?

Commercials like this one misinform people about the Employee Free Choice Act. It’s time to set the record straight!

But first, check it out and see if you can catch the faulty reasoning.

These commercials lead most people to think that unions want to replace the secret ballot election with a not secret ballot election. However, unions and workers agree that “democracy is something that should never be sacrificed.”

Bear with me.

Currently, the standard way to form a union involves two major steps.

1. Majority card sign-up: Before any election takes place, a majority of workers must sign cards saying that they want an election.
2. Elections: Workers vote (yes, with a secret ballot) on whether they want a union.

Sounds fair, right? The problem though, is that during the time between Steps 1 and 2, the employers wage their anti-union war. They might force workers to watch movies that lie about the union, tell people how to vote in the election, or even fire pro-union workers. This time period can last for months or even years, so you can imagine that when the election rolls around, many of the people who signed the cards in the first place might have changed their minds. And really, if the money you need to survive is being given to you by a person (your boss) who’s telling you how to vote, is this actually democracy?

So the solution proposed by Employee Free Choice Act is to allow workers to vote for the union using the same process that is already used in Step #1. If workers want a union, they sign a card. If they don’t want a union, they don’t sign a card. Democracy is still in place here, because a majority of workers need to sign cards for the union to win. This process is the same as the one we have always used; it just gets rid of the opportunity for employers to intimidate their workers.

But if this is the same process that is already in place, why are the anti-union people presenting it as something new and scary? Because without the employer intimidation process it would easier for workers to join unions, and harder for employers to hold on to all the power! Remember, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott admitted, "We like driving the car and we're not going to give the steering wheel to anybody but us."

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