5:40 PM Eastern - Thursday, September 3, 2009

Happy Labor Day! Employee Free Choice Recess Round-up

With Labor Day right around the corner, we wanted to catch you up on what SEIU and our allies have been up to over the last few weeks. From opposition groups confusing their Congressmen to new studies and reports from the states, keep reading for a full recess round-up on Employee Free Choice.

Note to Michigan Anti-Free Choice Group: Next Time, Try Wikipedia? The Jackson Patriot, a local Michigan paper, reported in August about an interesting situation that the Michigan Manufacturers recently found themselves in. "Recently, a billboard went up along Boardman Road, visible from I-94, to urge Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson to vote against the Employee Free Choice Act. Some smart guy realized that even though Peterson represents the 7th Congressional District, this is Michigan, and painted over the last two letters in his name. So now it urges U.S. Rep. Gary Peters to vote no. Right state this time, still the wrong Congressman. Eventually, I'm guessing the Michigan Manufacturers Association will want the billboard it paid for to urge U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer, who represents Michigan's 7th Congressional District, to vote against the union-backed legislation."

New York Times: Low Wage Workers Are Often Cheated, Study Says. A new study, "Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers" based on a survey of workers in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, shows that low-wage workers are routinely denied proper overtime pay and are often paid less than the minimum wage. Furthermore, "One in five workers reported having lodged a complaint about wages to their employer or trying to form a union in the previous year, and 43 percent of them said they had experienced some form of illegal retaliation, like firing or suspension, the study said." Read the full article here.

Exposed: MT Hair Salons Denying Workers A Right To A Union Before They Are Formed. As reported in both the Great Falls Tribune and The New York Times, a former manager of a hair salon in Great Falls came forward with her story about Regis Corporation asking its employees to sign documents nullifying any union cards they may sign in a future organizing campaign. While Regis claims the cards are being circulated to protect workers' rights to a secret ballot election, the former manager, Keri Gorder said, "I thought it was taking our right away before we ever exercised that right." And a leading labor expert described this tactic as illegal. Read more about it here: and here.

Labor Day List: Partnerships That Work. This week, ARAW released their yearly showcase of employers who "walk the walk when it comes to respecting their own workers' rights, and now they are going a step further by standing up on behalf of all U.S. workers. Every business profiled herein has spoken out on the need for meaningful labor law reform to ensure men and women have decent opportunities and their rights protected." These businesses include: American Income Life Insurance Company, Ivory Leathers, Inc, McGuire Scenic, Morton Williams Supermarkets, Print and Copy Center, Raymond's Painting and Decorating, West Sheet Metal Company, and Wisconsin Vision, Inc. See the full list of employers that have a successful relationships with their employee's labor unions.

No Coercion in Majority Sign-up. In their "Economic Snapshot" for the week of August 19th, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) focused in on a lack of evidence of how majority sign-up or "card check" leads to coercion. Although Employee Free Choice opponents argue that unions will coerce employees to sign authorization cards or obtain a majority through fraud, a recent report, however, "suggests that this claim is frivolous." In fact, "a study of four states--Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, and New York--that have had majority sign-up for public sector employees for many years failed to turn up a single meritorious case of coercion or fraud in more than 1,000 majority sign-up campaigns involving 34,000 employees between 2003 and 2009." More here.

Young Workers: A Lost Decade. In a new nationwide survey of young workers released earlier this week, the AFL-CIO found that more than one in three young workers say they are currently living at home with their parents, 31 percent of young workers reports being uninsured, up from 24 percent without health insurance coverage 10 years ago, and one-third of young workers cannot pay the bills and seven in 10 do not have enough saved to cover two months of living expenses. Full report here; read more about the survey here.

ARAW Employee Free Choice Lobby Day. Next week, over 200 progressive activists from 15 states--including small business owners, faith leaders, veterans, farmers and students will travel to Washington and meet with their members of Congress to discuss the reasons we need to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

If you would like more information about next week's lobby day, please let us know.

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