Employee Act May Free-up Workers to Unionize Against Wall Street Gainers  :  Published March 2007 All Rights Reserved


Employee Act May Free-up Workers to Unionize Against Wall Street Gainers

In the United States if you support worker unions you are labeled a "flaming liberal," and voicing your pro-union view could result in job loss. This is especially true for employees of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and corporate cubicle techies at IBM. In Europe however those in support of unions simply desire a balance between the corporate boardroom and the work place -- name calling is passé.

But now unionization was given its first thumb-ups in Washington DC by a new Congress on 1 March 2007 under round one of (HR 800) the Employee Free Choice Act.

The issue for workers in the states since year 2001 has been that boardrooms off-shore manufacturing jobs to reduce costs and outsource professional jobs for the same reason resulting in fewer skilled jobs available at home for the middle class. IBM admits to increasing its workforce in India by 44 percent in 2006, and replaced head count in the states with new grads, for example.   As both manufacturing and white collar professions in the United States fail to produce new opportunities in support of highly educated workers at home, unionization may become --as teenagers say-- a "cool" way to at least protect what jobs remain in the United States.

By Wall Street standards unions pose a threat to capitalism, which is why lawyers and lobbyists from corporate enterprises fought diligently to "spare no expense to bully lawmakers, misinform the public, and oppose free choice for workers," ahead of  voting on the Employee Free Choice Act, according to Mary Beth Maxwell, executive director of American Rights at Work.

The Employee Free Choice Act bill, which was sponsored by Democrat George Miller (CA,) was passed by the House of Representatives  241-185 -- 13 Republicans voted majority and eight representatives refused to vote.  The bill will now go to the Senate.

Cornell University professor Kate Bronfenbrenner suggested that more often than not in the United States employers threaten professionals who talk of unionization, and one third of corporate enterprises coerce workers into opposing unionization with bribes, employee reviews such as IBM's PBCs, and favoritism for advancement at the nation's largest employer Wal-Mart Stores and Sam's Clubs.

The United States' Chamber of Commerce led the effort to kill the Employee Free Choice Act Maxwell said. The reason was that the national Chamber of Commerce's board of directors represents such Wall Street darlings as: Pepco Holdings, 3M, Pacific Capital Group, The Turner Corp., Allied Capital Corp., Kirby Financial, Dow Chemical, PepsiCo Inc., Fluor, United Parcel Service, CNL Financial Group, Bloomberg, State Farm Insurance, EDS, Deloitte, Lockheed, Verizon, and Pfizer just to name some members.

"Hard-line business groups were tripping over each other and sparing no expense," Maxwell said and added that the Chamber of Commerce purchased misleading radio broadcast segments as well paid for opinion pieces in daily newspapers threatening economic devastation should the Employee Free Choice Act pass.

The United Steelworkers union (USW) president Leo W. Gerard praised passage of the bill calling it a turning point that could give access to unionism for tens of millions of workers in the United States "who deserve the freedom to collectively bargain for a better life without employer interference."

“There is no fear like that of losing your job from a corporate bully over the simple right of a worker to make a free choice for union representation without employer intimidation or threats,” Gerard said.

According to Gerard, the choice should belong to employees –- not employers. "Corporations routinely fire, intimidate and coerce workers during organizing campaigns. Current labor law is helpless to stop them."

USW decided that alterations made during hearings to the Employee Free Choice Act were not radical. "It gives workers, not corporations, the right to decide how to vote for a union. It makes it harder for employers to interfere and places real penalties on those that do. Finally, it provides first contract arbitration for employers who seek to stall and delay negotiations for wages and benefits," the union stated in its vote summary report.


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