Remember who opposes the Free Choice Act
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, so when I saw the television ads run on WMUR by the Employee Freedom Action Committee, I started to wonder. Who are these crusaders for justice, so concerned about our rights as workers? It turns out these ads are run by a front group for Richard Berman, a Washington, D.C., lobbyist whose clients include the American beverage industry who paid him to attack Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. Forgive me for doubting that Berman is looking out for the best interests of working families. We are used to rough and tumble campaign seasons in New Hampshire. However, these ads from this out-of-state group are completely over the top. The attacks are a step beyond what we have seen before, not just because of how negative they are, but because they are absolutely untrue. The single goal of this out-of-state organization is to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would level the playing field between workers and industry. It will be the first overhaul of this country’s labor law in over a half century. The fact is that America’s working families are falling behind, as those at the top of the economic ladder are raking in record profits. Wages are falling, health-care costs are rising and retirement security is all but disappearing. America’s middle class is shrinking fast. There are many workers who would like to organize on the job but due to the national labor laws, the odds are stacked against them. Every day, corporations deny employees the freedom to decide for themselves whether to form unions to bargain for a better life. They routinely intimidate, harass, coerce and even fire people who try to organize unions, and our nation’s labor laws are powerless to stop them. The Employee Free Choice Act would strengthen penalties for companies that coerce or intimidate employees and ensure that workers have a fair chance at winning a first contract with their employer. It also would remove barriers to workers who want to form a union by enabling them organize a union when a majority signs union authorization cards, a process known as majority sign-up. The Employee Free Choice Act simply gives workers — not corporations — the power to decide how they could choose to form a union. Majority sign-up has long been recognized by the National Labor Relations Board and federal courts and approved by the U.S. State Supreme Court, if the employer agrees to allow this method. AT&T call center workers in New Hampshire and many others have won union representation through this system. The problem is, very few corporations voluntarily recognize majority sign-up. Those candidates and incumbents for public office who support the Employee Free Choice Act do so because unions are one of the key factors in a strong, secure economy. Big business and their corporate lobbyists oppose it, not because they care about the rights of workers, but because they look out for the interests of the very rich. So when you see these ads, just remember who is paying for them. These ads don’t come from people looking out for the little guy.
Jim Casey is a former New Hampshire labor commissioner. This article originally appeared in Foster’s Daily Democrat.