The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


March 11, 2009

Employees, not companies, should decide about unions


Second, the bill sets up a procedure for contract mediation or arbitration for first agreements only. This is to combat those employers who refuse to bargain in good faith and try to avoid any agreement with their employees.

Finally, the Employee Free Choice Act returns the decision about whether to unionize or how to unionize to the employees. It does not eliminate secret ballots. Workers can ask for majority recognition, (an option that has existed since 1935) a secret ballot election, or no union at all.

People talk about intimidation in union elections – they’re right. It’s happening every day in workplaces from coast to coast. Only the ones making threats and doing the intimidating are the bosses, not the workers and not the unions trying to organize workplaces.

A check of U.S. Department of Labor records showed the following:

* Since 1935, there have been 42 documented cases of union fraud or coersion involving the signing of authorization cards.

* By contrast, there were 6,000 instances of employers intimidating employees to vote against the union in 1969.

* By 1990, that number had risen to 20,000.

* By 2007, there were nearly 30,000 cases of illegal firings and other discrimination against employees who were attempting to exercise their federally protected labor law rights.

Yes, intimidation is a big problem. But it is the anti-union crowd who are guilty.

Recent polls have shown that a majority of American workers understand that having a union means better wages and benefits and would join if they could. Organized labor doesn’t have to intimidate anyone for them to want to join a union.

We simply want to insure that the tens of millions of Americans who want to belong to a union are able to join, free of threats and intimidation from their employer or the union-busting, law-breaking consultants they employ.

It’s time to end the deception about this bill and pass the Employee Free Choice Act. Specter needs to vote yes.

Daniel J. Kane is international secretary-treasurer of the United Mine Workers of America.

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