The Benefits of Card Check: H&M Stores in New York Go Union
For those who felt guilty buying cheap clothes at the Swedish chain H&M, there's one less reason to feel bad. Employees at six New York stores will join 1200 other retail staffers in the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.
H&M, owned by Stockholm-based Hennes & Mauritz AB (HMB), the world’s second-largest clothing retailer, accepted the union’s bid for representation after workers turned in signup cards. Companies typically require an election to ratify the petitions, said UFCW spokesman Evan Yeats. A vote gives employers a chance to influence the outcome.
Though H&M declined to fight the union drive by demanding a secret ballot election, most workers trying to organize face a much nastier battle. "Card Check," the lead provision in the Employee Free Choice Act, makes it easier for organizers to sign up workers away from employer pressure. The passage of EFCA would make it far easier for other workers to follow the H&M employees' lead.
EFCA is off the table now with a Republican house, but even in the days of the supermajority Democrats failed to push for the measure. Yet union workers have been the backbone of the resistance to the GOP austerity agenda, and should Democrats get lucky enough to take back the House in 2012, perhaps victories like this one will make them realize that EFCA would not only improve the lives of their constituents, but provide them with reliable support.