|Greater Hartford Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO|
One of the most important goals of the AFL-CIO’s Central Labor Councils is the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). Why is this legislation important to you? E.F.C.A. would make organizing new members much easier than it is now. Union density in the United States has been going down precipitously in the last few decades. Along with the decline in union membership, we have seen a decline in wages, pensions, healthcare coverage, worker protections and good jobs in general. Unions are the most effective advocates for workers around the world. Unions keep wages in the “living wage” range. Unions fight to keep healthcare coverage and good pensions a part of the American dream. Corporations would like nothing better than to make these benefits disappear. Corporate profits would soar while the average worker would suffer. All you have to do is read the daily newspaper or watch the nightly news to see that these benefits are under attack.
Sixty percent of all workers polled said they would join a union right now if they could. The process for workers to form or join a union in the United States is very difficult as it stands right now. It is a very long dragged out process that is very expensive for unions. This gives the company time to harass and scare the workforce. Union supporters in a non-union job are routinely fired for trying to get support from co-workers. This is against the law in the United States, but it happens. The Employee Free Choice Act would put stiffer penalties on companies who break these laws. Companies often force employees into meetings called “captive audience” meetings. In these meetings workers are threatened and coerced. The company uses the threat of outsourcing to scare union supporters away from trying to organize. They tell employees that unions only want your dues money and workers will get nothing in return. Why does corporate America spend billions of dollars on union avoidance consultants? Is it to protect their un-informed workforce from having their pockets picked by “union bosses”? That just does not make sense. Corporate America is scared to death of unions because they are the strongest advocate for workers. Unions ensure that wages and benefits as well as respect on the job are protected. Collective bargaining is still the best way for workers to gain respect from corporate America.
The Employee Free Choice Act will make it easier and quicker to organize a workplace. All that would be required is a majority of employees to sign a card saying they want a union. This would provide the workforce with a chance to negotiate their wages and benefits with the collective strength that a union provides. For more information on the Employee Free Choice Act, see www.ll743.org and read the Act.
What is a “wedge” issue? Wedge issues include subjects like gun control, abortion, school prayer, and gay rights. Political campaigns routinely use wedge issues to distract voters from looking deeper into issues that affect their daily lives. For example, a voter might hear a candidate’s position on gun control and say, “Oh no, he’s for gun control, I’m voting for the other candidate.” If the voter looked deeper at the candidate’s other positions he might see that politician also supports outsourcing jobs and the elimination of pensions for workers. The reality is that wedge issue legislation is rarely brought to Congress because of the controversial nature of these issues. Most politicians stay away from the controversy to protect their voter base. They use these issues as an easy way to sway voters their way.
Knowing how a particular candidate voted on an issue that affects your life is critical to your voting decisions. The best way to enter a voting booth is armed with information. One of the ways the AFL-CIO attempts to help workers make an informed decision is through Congressional voting records. At www.aflcio.com they provide voting records of all the members of Congress on working family issues. Take some time and visit the site to see what your Congressional representative has been up too lately. If you or any member of your family is not registered to vote, please take the time to register. Working America’s strength is in our numbers and every voice in the ballot box counts!
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