The White House is threatening to veto a bill to fully implement the 9/11 commission’s recommendations. What horror could be in that bill which would earn the second veto in 6 years?:
the White House [is] threatening a veto because one part would extend union protection to 45,000 airport workers.
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of labor. My grandfather was a secretary-treasurer of his union, and while speaking out against the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, he got into a tiff with Representative Richard Milhous Nixon.
The Taft-Hartley Act passed, despite President Truman’s veto. Truman declared it to be a “slave labor bill,” because it placed limits on the powers of unions to work for a fair deal, and put limits on the government’s power to enforce rules protecting workers as they try to form unions.
The National Labor Relations Board has been been stuck with the same fines for companies that break those rules for decades. Abuses are rampant, with 46% of workers complaining about management pressure in some elections, a fifth of union organizers or activists get fired during union drives, and half of employers threaten to close a worksite when a union starts organizing. Of course, these tactics are illegal. But with fines so low, and the NLRB so weak, companies would rather pay a fine than allow a fair union drive.
Under current rules, employers can force workers into public elections, noting which workers show up to vote, and targeting them for retaliation. The alternative too, one common in Canada and much of the rest of the world, is something called a “card check election.” Organizers give workers cards on which they could indicate their interest in creating a union, and when a majority of workers had turned in their cards, the union would be certified and begin negotiating on behalf of the workers. When researchers have tracked those elections, there is less coercion by unions or management than in public elections.
Current rules also allow management to force workers into closed meetings, at which they are free to present whatever dishonest, anti-union propaganda they choose. Unions, of course, have no opportunity to respond in a similar forum.
Luckily, there is a bill in Congress that will reverse some of these harmful trends. The Employee Free Choice Act will come up for a vote tomorrow in the House, and is likely to pass. It faces a likely filibuster in the Senate and a certain veto in the White House. Of course, the Republican Party is gearing up to attack anyone who stands up for workers’ rights, targeting Nancy Boyda in particular.
Boyda isn’t backing down:
“I have never met an American that doesn’t believe in the right to organize,” she said. “We are a working-family district. I strongly believe that people have a fundamental right to organize and that right has been severely diminished.
“I think Kansans will stand behind me,” she added.
If you agree with Boyda’s decision, now is probably a good time to write a letter to your local paper, and maybe to her as well. Representatives of well-paid executives are running radio ads and planning a media blitz over this bill, and people who support working Americans need to make ourselves heard.