Employee Free Choice Act
and Republican Disinformation
by Stephen Crockett
REPUBLICANS OPPOSING THE passage of the Employee Free Choice Act are lying up
a storm to swing public opinion against the proposed law. Their primary
attack claim is that the bill denies workers a free, fair election by secret
ballot. Unfortunately, there is nothing free or fair about the current system of
voting on unionization. The law is tilted heavily in favor of company power
and against the workers.
I have been involved in an unsuccessful attempt to unionize a business. I saw
disturbing examples of intimidation and unfair tactics that the Employee
Free Choice Act would have prevented.
Companies are able to hold "captive audience meetings" to argue against
unionization. They are legally able to include certain workers and exclude
others. Attendance is mandatory for some and prohibited to others. They are held
on company time.
Workers trying to unionize are not able to meet on company property without
permission of the company. Strong union supporters are usually excluded from
"captive audience meetings" so the company position is the only one heard by
the workers forced to attend. Sometimes illegal threats or statements are
issued at these meetings when the company feels certain that workers attending
them will not report them to the federal government.
The burden of proof by law regarding illegal tactics by companies in
complaints filed with the National Labor Relations Board definitely tilts toward the
company. Most companies fail to see violations of labor laws by anti-union
"so-called worker committees" (often comprised of quasi-management employees)
while pro-union workers are threatened frequently with being fired if
suspected of engaging in pro-union activities. The anti-union "so-called worker
committees" can operate on company time (which is illegal) without much fear.
While most companies will deny knowing about such activity, it seems likely that
these companies often secretly organize these anti-union "so-called worker
committees" and direct their operations. In almost every case, the company has
complete knowledge of their activities.
Supervisors will often threaten employees when no witnesses are present.
Threatened workers are often afraid of reporting the threats or do not know the
procedure for reporting them. These threats are illegal but very difficult to
prove. The company can fire pro-union workers during the election process to
intimidate other workers even if the federal government or courts eventually
get their jobs back. In the meantime, the union vote will often go against
unionization out of fear.
The company will sometimes threaten to close the business or move it if the
workers vote for a union. This is illegal but it does happen. It is very
difficult to prove. Illegal activity by the company is difficult to prove in part
because many companies make rules against bringing recording devices or
cameras into the work area. This also makes it difficult to document unsafe
working conditions. Workers can lose their jobs trying to document violations of
labor or safety laws by the company.
Union organizers and union officials do not have access to company property
during the election cycle to discuss the benefits of unionization. They are
not supplied with phone numbers of employees although the companies do have
If you distribute any union materials including union pledge cards on company
property during working hours, you can and usually will be fired. Pro-union
workers are often warned about this even when they are not actively involved
in the distribution of pledge cards or materials just to intimidate them from
speaking up for unionization.
The current union election system is not fair or free. It is much like the
"free elections" held in Communist countries or other dictatorships. The
Republicans and their large corporate masters are being completely dishonest in
the way they frame the issue and describe the current situation.
Republicans falsely claim that workers are intimidated into signing union
pledge cards. This is so rare as to be almost non-existent. The intimidation is
almost entirely on the side of the companies. Companies are in a position of
power over workers. Co-workers are simply not in a similar power situation.
Only the company is really in the kind of power position to intimidate
Criminal behavior influencing union votes is almost always on the side of the
company. The Employee Free Choice Act is designed to stop this criminal
behavior and all intimidation of workers. The legislation says that if a majority
of workers sign pledge cards in favor of unionizing the union will be
automatically recognized by law. It is majority rule. It eliminates the opportunity
for the company to block the majority desire for unionization by using
illegal tactics and intimidation.
A vote against the Employee Free Choice Act is a vote in favor of the current
rigged system. It is a vote in favor of company intimidation and illegal
company behavior. It is a vote against the workers.
Democrats overwhelmingly support the Employee Free Choice Act. In the House
vote, only 2 Democrats voted against the legislation. 13 Republicans voted for
the Employee Free Choice Act. The final vote was 241 in favor and 185
Some Senate Republicans may attempt to block a vote on this legislation. If
they do, every working American should vote against them. If any Democrat
joins them, they should be defeated at the next election. Workers should contact
their Senators immediately and let them know their vote on this legislation
will determine your vote in the next election.
It has been reported that Cheney has pledged that Bush will veto the Employee
Free Choice Act. This is the best reason I can think of for voting
Democratic in the 2008 Presidential Election if Bush vetoes this pro-worker
The Employee Free Choice Act is a vote for worker rights. A vote against it
is a vote against worker rights no matter how the Republicans spin it.
Stephen Crockett is co-host of Democratic Talk Radio
www.democratictalkradio.com Mail: P.O. Box 283, Earleville, Maryland 21919.
Phone: 443-907-2367. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org