The U.S. House of Representatives will vote Thursday on the Employee Free Choice Act – the most important legislation in 70 years to ensure workers’ freedom to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions.
Most people have no idea how a union get’s started or what workers go through to form one. The majority of current members got hired by their employer and happily found themselves with all the benefits that come from being united in a union.
Organizing a union isn’t very complicated – but it’s not something you can do alone. It starts when a few people decide they want to stick together to improve their wages and working conditions.
They form a group to educate themselves about the advantages of having a real voice at work through collective bargaining. Over time, the group recruits people from each department and shift to serve on a union committee.
The hardest part is for the union committee to unite a majority of their co-workers behind the basic idea that we’re better off “sticking together” in a union rather than working alone.
That job is made even more difficult when management gets involved by aggressively interfering in the workers’ decision about forming a union.
Although current labor laws protect workers’ right to form unions, employers use both legal and illegal anti-union tactics to persuade workers that it is not in their interests to “stick together.”
Over the last 50 years, pro-management courts have weakened the law so much that union elections are now totally stacked against workers. For example, thirty percent of employers fire pro-union workers during a union campaign. More than half coerce workers into opposing unions with bribery or favoritism.
With such weak labor laws allowing these practices, workers are finding that it’s better to have an agreement with management before the campaign allowing the union committee to gain collective bargaining rights by having an impartial authority check signed membership cards proving the union has majority support.
Once majority support is positively established, then management meets with an elected committee of co-workers to begin negotiating their first contract!
A proposed change in U.S. labor law, the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800) would make it easier for workers to use the “card check” approach outlined above and also win better first contracts. Learn more about it at: www.aflcio.org/joinaunion/voiceatwork/efca or contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org