On February 4th, thousands of union members rallied on Capitol Hill in support of the Employee Free Choice Act. They delivered boxes to Congress carrying some of the 1.5 million signatures in support of the bill. On the internet, American Rights at Work created the banner you see on the right side of this page, which is scrolling through each of the 1.5 million names, one by one. It will take 11 days to scroll through all the names.
Having met the original goal of 1 million signatures before the rally, now the goal is to gather 2 million signatures before Congress takes its February break.
So add your name. Then grab some popcorn and wait for your name to scroll by!
The main feature of the Employee Free Choice Act is that it would make it easier and quicker for workers to form a union, by allowing workers to choose whether to decide on a union through majority sign-up or an election. Currently that choice belongs solely to the employer. In most cases, the employer opts for a secret ballot election, where almost everything is stacked in the employer's favor. In the run-up to the election, the employer pulls out the traditional anti-union techniques: illegally firing pro-union employees, illegally threatening to close worksites if the union is formed, and bribing workers to oppose the union. Perhaps most importantly, in the pre-election period the employer controls the debate. Before an election, 92 percent of employers force workers to attend mandatory meetings to listen to anti-union propaganda, while pro-union meetings are not allowed.
You've probably seen ads on TV both for and against the Employee Free Choice Act. You can understand why the pro-labor ads use phrases like "a level playing field," since the act would give workers a fighting chance to form a union.
On the other hand, the anti-labor ads have simply repeated the lie that Employee Free Choice would "take away the secret ballot." What they really mean is, the Employee Free Choice Act would "take away the employer's right to require workers to sit through a long anti-union campaign of bribery and intimidation before voting on a secret ballot, even if all of the workers have already indicated they want a union." But yeah, "take away the secret ballot" has a better ring to it.
This is going to be a big fight--a throw-back to some of the great labor struggles in our history. It's people-power versus all the hired guns and publicity money can buy. Big business has already shown that they are willing to pull out all the stops against this legislation, but labor appears to be standing firm. More on that later. It may simply come down to a numbers game in the Senate: Can Democrats get 60 votes? But it's a numbers game in a larger sense too: Can a large number of people overcome an enormous amount of money?