Magazine article International Musician

Obama's Fight for the Employee Free Choice Act

Magazine article International Musician

Obama's Fight for the Employee Free Choice Act

Article excerpt

In last month's column I personally endorsed and supported Barack Obama for President of the US. In most quarters I received praise and in some dismay, and a comparison to Hitler. In this month's column I'd like to provide you with a major reason why I endorsed Obama: the Employee Free Choice Act.

According to a new study from John Paul Ferguson at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 44% of newly certified unions fail to get a first contract. Even after workers overcome all the obstacles and succeed in forming a new union, employers often deny those employees the benefit of a collective bargaining agreement.

Another study by Cornell University's Kate Bronfenbrenner, first contracts typically contain a wide array of economic and noneconomic gains for workers. These gains include:

* Grievance and arbitration provisions

* Job-bidding rules

* Seniority clauses

* Anti-discrimination language

* Anti-sexual harassment language

* Health and safety protections

* Much more

So why are so many newly formed unions unable to get first contracts? Partially because current company-dominated systems do little to punish employers that refuse to bargain in good faith. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requires employers to resume bargaining, even if a union can prove the employer is bargaining in bad faith. The NLRB simply requires the employer to post a notice in the workplace stating it will not to bargain in bad faith again.

Employers have the incentive to delay the bargaining process for a year since newly formed unions lose their presumption of majority status after one year without a contract. …

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