Employee Free Choice Act
The current system for forming a union is outdated and ineffective, placing too much power in the hands of the employer and leaving workers virtually powerless. For too long, employers have exploited and abused the deficiencies in federal labor law in their efforts to maintain power in the workplace. Often times these employees are harassed - even fired - simply because they want to come together and bargain on behalf of their fellow employees. The Employee Free Choice Act, H.R. 1409/S. 560, will enact stiffer penalties for employers who violate workers' rights in elections, it will allow employees to choose to form a union through majority sign-up, and it will ensure that a mutually agreeable contract is reached in a timely manner. NFFE-IAM strongly supports EFCA.
The most important fight that labor unions will have in Congress this year will be the Employee Free Choice Act H.R. 1409/S. 560 (EFCA), a bill supported by a bipartisan coalition in Congress that would enable working people to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions by restoring workers' freedom to choose for themselves whether to join a union. The legislation accomplishes this by:
stronger penalties for violation of employee
rights when workers seek to form a union and
2. Providing mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes.
3. Allowing employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation.
This legislation is critically important because the current system for forming unions is broken. Although U.S. and international laws are supposed to protect workers' freedom to belong to unions, employers routinely harass, intimidate, coerce, and even fire workers struggling to gain a union so they can bargain for better lives. And U.S. labor law is powerless to stop them. Employees are on an uneven playing field from the moment they begin exploring whether they want to form a union, and the will of the majority often is crushed by brutal management tactics. Consider these stats:
Ninety-two percent of private-sector employers, when faced with employees who want to join together in a union, force employees to attend closed-door meetings to hear anti-union propaganda; 80 percent require supervisors to attend training sessions on attacking unions; and 78 percent require that supervisors deliver anti-union messages to workers they oversee.
Seventy-five percent hire outside consultants to run anti-union campaigns, often based on mass psychology and distorting the law.
Half of employers threaten to shut down partially or totally if employees join together in a union.
In 25 percent of organizing campaigns, private-sector employers illegally fire workers because they want to form a union.
Even after workers successfully form a union, in one-third of the instances, employers do not negotiate a contract.
Joining together in a union to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions greatly improves the lives of working people and the communities in which they live. Better pay and benefits translates to a higher standard of living for those who have a union. But those who simply work in communities where unions exist benefit also. The presence of unions at some worksites within a community pushes up wages at all the other worksites within that community as well. Non-union employers are forced to provide better wages and benefits to compete with union employers for labor. When unions are present in a community, everyone benefits. Consider these statistics:
- Workers who belong to unions earn 30 percent more than nonunion workers.
- Union workers are 62 percent more likely to have employer-provided health coverage.
- Workers who belong to unions are four times more likely to have pensions.
- Only 38 percent of the public says their families are getting ahead financially.
- Less than 25% believes the next generation will be better off.
this Legislation is Important for Federal
EFCA only directly impacts the ability to form
unions in the private sector, federal employees
are still strongly impacted by the
legislation. As previously discussed, the
presence of unions pushes up wages
significantly in a given community, benefitting
both blue and white collar federal
Blue collar federal workers are impacted by this because their wages are based on the prevailing wages for comparable work in the private sector. So, when private sector workers are given a fair opportunity to join unions, private sector wages will go up as a result, that will be reflected in the wage surveys done to establish the prevailing rate for federal workers, and blue collar federal workers will get paid more.
White collar federal workers will benefit from EFCA as well. The Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (FEPCA) set the target pay gap between private sector workers and government employees in similar positions at five percent. While this law has not been fully observed, Congress has had a tendency to provide federal employees with a bigger annual pay adjustment when the pay gaps have grown. Higher private sector pay because of EFCA would lead to bigger pay gaps, and thus higher annual pay adjustments from Congress.