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It’s a scream to hear corporate chieftains insist that there simply is no more need for unions in America. “In the sophisticated work place of the 21st century,” said the head of the National Association of Manufacturers, “The need for unions is obviated.”
Oh, really chief? Let’s see, for years now, workers have dramatically increased their skills and productivity, only to be rewarded with declining wages, elimination of health care benefits, cancelled pensions, constant downsizing, and the steady offshoring of middle-class jobs. Meanwhile, as CEOs enthusiastically ax workers, they extravagantly jack up their own pay and perks.
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Not only are unions needed, there is a widespread yearning for them. A 2006 poll found that 68 percent of Americans believe that labor unions are necessary to protect working families – a percentage that’s undoubtedly climbed as our economy tanked in the past couple of years. Indeed, another survey finds that 60 million Americans would join a union tomorrow if they could.
So why don’t they?
Because the rules have been deliberately rigged during the past 30 years to make union organizing next to impossible. For example, of those who even try, 20 percent get fired outright. Also, in an organizing campaign, union representatives are not allowed inside a business to talk to employees, yet every employee can be forced to attend one-to-one meetings with company bosses, who make clear that supporting the union would be a bad career move. And even if employees vote to form a union, top executives can simply ignore them.
But their rigged game could be up. The Employee Free Choice Act would make organizing campaigns more fair. Barack Obama supports it, but he and Congress are under intense pressure by corporate chieftains to back off. To learn more about it, contact www.freechoiceact.org.
“Union Looks for New Life In the World of Obama,” The New York Times, December 29, 2008.
“The Labor Agenda,” The New York Times, December 29, 2008.
“U.S. Labor Looks to Obama for Help,” The New York Times, January 5, 2009.
“Why labor’s victory didn’t last,” Kansas City Star, January 2, 2009.