Rights of workers too easily impinged
Employees without a union have very few rights when dealing with their employers. For example, an employer may unilaterally cut pay, decide to cancel benefits such as health insurance and vacation time, and refuse to pay workers when they are out with the flu, or because of non-work-related hospital stays.
So, it’s no wonder employers don’t want employees to exercise their legal rights to join and participate in unions that they have selected as their collective-bargaining agents.
During my 35-year career with the National Labor Relations Board, I witnessed (prior to my retirement) the erosion of employee rights, as employers have become increasingly more aggressive in their efforts to thwart unionization. That is why I believe it is essential to the well-being of every employee to gain the protection of the Employee Free Choice Act.
The most discussed aspect of the legislation is the provision that employees may select a union by demonstrating through a card check, rather than through an election, that a majority of them want to be represented by a union. Such a procedure – a card check – has always been permitted under the National Labor Relations Act if both parties agree.
All that is new in the Employee Free Choice Act is that employees may insist on a card check. Based on my experience, I believe elections will continue to be the most frequent means to measure employee support; but unions that have signed-up majority support should have the right to prevent employers from undermining their positions through prolonged legal maneuvers and aggressive pre-election anti-union campaigns.
Other provisions of the Employee Free Choice Act impose meaningful sanctions against employers who fire or discriminate against employees because they exercise their legal rights to join a union. As the law now stands, employers almost get a “free ride” when they violate the rights of their workers.
The most unfortunate aspect of this whole debate – in my opinion – is that we need even to discuss the legalities of what should be a matter of respect for the women and men whose labor is the force that turns the wheels of commerce.
–JAMES J. PALERMO
I’m amazed the Republican printed this letter, considering they’re violently anti-union and have already twice ran a hyperbolic Op-Ed rife with distortions and half-truths about EFCA that was penned by a Union-busting Boston Law Firm.
I think I’ll write to Mr. Palermo and thank him for his letter, and also ask him for some illumination on this sentence:
“All that is new in the Employee Free Choice Act is that employees may insist on a card check. Based on my experience, I believe elections will continue to be the most frequent means to measure employee support; but unions that have signed-up majority support should have the right to prevent employers from undermining their positions through prolonged legal maneuvers and aggressive pre-election anti-union campaigns. ” (emphasis mine)
I’m wondering why Mr. Palermo believes most union organizing drives will still go the route of a National Labor Relations Board election when card check gets workers union certification much faster. Perhaps EFCA shortens the window between submitting the cards mandating an election and management and the NLRB holding the election–and there are the new provisions which make dirty tricks in the run up to the election more costly to management. Or perhaps its a combination of the two. Very interesting. Now all the country needs is for 60 Senators to vote yes for cloture and 51 to vote yes to pass the bill. No small task, there.