2:35 PM Eastern - Monday, December 8, 2008

Employee Free Choice Act Fast Facts Update: All About Majority Sign-up

The corporate misinformation campaign is already running strong--spreading lies and distortions about the Employee Free Choice Act. One blatant mischaracterization suggests that this common sense proposal is somehow a "radical" change to federal labor law. In fact, the Employee Free Choice Act reflects long-standing American principles of balance, choice and fairness in the workplace and restores protections for workers that have been eroded over time.

Here's an update about the legislation (below), courtesy of Jon Youngdahl, SEIU Political Director, Change that Works Campaign.

P.S. Know someone else who should receive our updates on the Employee Free Choice Act? Tell your colleagues to sign up for these updates on this page: http://freechoice.seiu.org/page/s/freechoiceupdate

Majority Sign-up Worked for Decades

In 1935, at another moment of economic crisis, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Wagner Act into law, putting the choice of how to form a union in the hands of workers. They could either hold an election or form a union after a majority of workers signed cards saying they wanted one.

The result? That workers, not just CEOs, could have the chance for a voice at their companies to benefit from the economic progress they help create and to advocate for the best quality services and products for consumers and customers.

For nearly 35 years, that was the law and America went on to build the greatest middle class in the world.

In 1974 the Supreme Court handed down a new ruling that said employers could refuse to abide by the decision of a majority of workers to form a union through the majority sign-up process and demand an election that delays the process for months. Managers and supervisors soon figured out how to use that time to fire, threaten, and intimidate employees who support forming a union so that by the time an election is held many workers are too scared of management retaliation to cast their vote freely.

Giving Workers Back their Free Choice to Join a Union

As Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein recently wrote, "[the] right that most Americans thought they won back in 1935 -- the right to form unions and bargain collectively... has been whittled away by legislation, poked with holes by appeals courts and reduced to irrelevancy by a well-meaning bureaucracy that has let itself be intimidated by political and legal thuggery."

51% of employers illegally threaten to close down a worksite when employees try to join together to form a union. 30% unlawfully fire workers who support forming a union as a way of intimidating others. 91% force employees to attend intimidating one-on-one meetings with their supervisors. In the current company-dominated system, workers who ask for a union election don't get a chance to vote in four out of 10 cases. And even when workers win an election, after two years less than 20% of workers who petitioned for an election are able to secure a contract.

The Employee Free Choice Act ensures that workers can have the freedom to decide to join together in a union and work together with their companies for shared success - for fair wages, benefits, retirement security, and the best quality services and products for clients and consumers.

Majority Sign-Up Is Widely Used and Successful Today

There are currently laws in thirteen states that grant some public and private employees the right to form unions through the majority sign-up process. Since 2003, over half a million American workers formed unions through majority sign-up.

Workers and successful companies like AT&T, UPS, and Kaiser Permanente have used majority signup to form partnerships to ensure workers can share in the prosperity of their companies and advocate for the best quality services and products for consumers and customers

Employee Free Choice Act Will NOT Eliminate Workers' Right to a Secret Ballot

When CEOs are paying themselves 344 times more than workers on average, it's not hard to understand why giving your workers the freedom to decide for themselves whether to have some input isn't your priority. Since it's hard to defend a position against change to reform the corporate excesses of the last 10 years, some CEOs and their lobbyists are instead spreading false claims about the bill.

The Employee Free Choice Act will not eliminate a worker's right to a secret ballot. This legislation would put the choice of how workers form unions in workers' hands, not the employers.

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