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Unionbusting Firms Profiting from Corporate America's Fear of Workers' Rights

"Union avoidance" firms are marketing "Employee Free Choice Act Defense Kits" for $5,000 a set.

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"Support for this legislation is based on the fear that, if left to their own devices in the privacy of a voting booth, some American workers might choose not to join a union. This legislation creates a situation of worker intimidation and prohibits the ability of management and labor to work together in an increasingly dynamic economy."

And in an email to legislators, the National Association of Manufacturers, host of the blog, Shopfloor, contended that it would wreck the economy and rob workers of rights. They peddled those claims although the proposed bill just amends current law to allow workers to choose majority sign-up and there is overwhelming evidence that unionization boosts incomes and standards of living. The group, whose members include companies and trade groups from the American Petroleum Institute to Xerox, provided its latest spin:

"Our manufacturing economy faces many challenges ahead. As Congress considers legislation to address these concerns, we urge you to oppose proposals that will further hinder manufacturers' economic competitiveness and our ability to create jobs. The recently introduced Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA H.R. 1409/S.560) is one of the most direct threats to economic growth and job retention and creation...While pro-EFCA ads attempt to blur this issue, the evidence is clear - the bill eliminates the secret ballot for union certification."

"Lying helps," as SEIU president Andy Stern explained on the Rachel Maddow show Monday night. But a new grass-roots campaign on behalf of the bill has spurred renewed confidence in passage of the bill. Despite some wavering now by moderate Democrats, union activists still see the likelihood that, as one AFL-CIO strategist puts it, "This thing will pass." When Al Franken is seated, they're confident they can get the 60 votes for cloture -- and that will enable the bill to pass with a majority of votes, even if a few Democrats then defect to placate business interests, but they're still counting on retaining all 60 votes. Increasingly, the key business organizations that are spewing misleading information about the legislation are being targeted by the union movement. The day before the bill was introduced, SEIU organized a rally outside the offices of the Chamber of Commerce. The business organization and its allied trade groups spent nearly $140 million on lobbying last year, much of it targeting legislation and tougher regulations that could possibly benefit workers. They, in turn, support a unionbusting network of consultants and lawyers advising corpoprations that brings in, by some estimates, nearly $4 billion a year. Such unionbusting firms are seizing on the opportunity to capitalize on misinformation and business fear over the proposed legislation: To fight back, it's not surprising, then, that a broad array of progressive, consumer, and religious groups are supporting the legislation and gearing up for a grass-roots campaign to overcome Big Business's money-fueled lobbying and PR blitz. As Robert Borosage of The Campaign for America's Future summed up:

The Employee Free Choice Act will help restore the right of workers to organize in this country. Over the last decades, that basic right has been shredded, as companies waged open warfare on union organizing, and administrations often failed to enforce the laws protecting that right. But the Employee Free Choice Act isn't just about worker rights. It's about whether we can return to an economy with a broad middle class....It will be a critical building block of the new economy that we must construct from the ashes of the old.

But despite the bill's importance, Rachel Maddow and other progressives, are taking sharper aim at the GOP and business interests, including unionbusters, who are smearing the Employee Free Choice Act:

 
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