When we told NLRB Executive Secretary Lester A. Heltzer that he was holding a letter signed by more than 15,000 workers and worker activists who support the proposed rule change, he was impressed, saying our action was "definitely a first."
For decades, the federal government has allowed big corporations to litigate workers' efforts to death when we try to form a union and get a leg up in supporting our families. Unfortunately, irresponsible companies typically delay our elections and frequently retaliate against anyone working to form a union. During organizing campaigns, more than one-third of employers fire pro-union workers, even though it is our legal right to form or join a union.
When everyday people in this country stand up and want to be heard--whether it's in state capitols or at work--they should be. SEIU member Veronica Tench, an employee St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles, zeroed in on this point yesterday when she testified before the Board. Veronica shared that she and her coworkers started organizing to form a union in 1998, but were only able to vote in June of this year - 13 years later! For more than a decade Veronica and her co-workers waited just to have a fair election to vote for their union.
Veronica said, "Even before we filed the petition, the hospital administration quickly began an anti-union campaign. Management published 'Say No to the Union' fliers, brought in more security guards to keep out union organizers and the hospital hired outside lawyers to hold meetings about why we shouldn't join the union. Since my co-workers and I felt we couldn't talk freely at work, we would have our meetings outside of the hospital."
"We tried to move forward, but hospital management stopped us from every angle. The most extreme tactic management used was to subcontract out the hospital's respiratory care services just 12 days before the union election as a way to prevent employees from voting. They were still working in the St. Vincent building, but now they suddenly worked for a different company. As a result, the hospital claimed they were ineligible to vote."
At the end of the day, the NLRB proposed rule change is a modest step toward allowing workers to vote in free and fair elections, without fear of intimidation or losing their jobs. Greedy corporations and their puppet politicians are fighting this rule change because they want to keep the status quo that is making them rich - but how much longer will we let them hold us back from out legal right to organize?
According to 15,000 people who co-signed a letter of support, not anymore!
If you haven't already made your voice heard, it is not too late.
Here is our formal cover letter to Executive Secretary Lester Heltzer.
July 19, 2011
Lester A. Heltzer, Executive Secretary, National Labor Relations Board, 1099 14th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20570.RE: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Representation Case Procedures RIN 3142-AA08
Dear National Labor Relations Board,
In a year that saw unprecedented attacks on working families and the worst economy for working people since the Great Depression, any step to improve the election process for working people trying to form a union is welcome.
Attacks from corporate interest groups are sure to begin, but I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the decision you've made to stand up for people like me who believe the union provides a path to the middle class and the American Dream for so many families across the country.
I hope you'll consider my voice as the conversation about the rule gets underway.