Sunday, 15 March 2009

Support for the Employee Free Choice Act


On 10th March the American Houses of the Senate and Representatives had laid before them proposals to adopt the Employee Free Choice Act.

The Act would restore to American workers the right to fully and fairly elect to have a trade union become recognised in their workplace. There is overwhelming support in the US for greater freedom to join trade unions. See:

Interestingly the Economic Policy Institute has just released a statement from 30 of the States' most eminent economists, some of whom have historically been vehemently opposed to the freedom to organise, but who all now support the Act. See their statement:

They place their support for the Act within the current climate and recognise that for far too long the process of recognition has favoured employers who have been able to employ intimidatory, vicious anti-union campaigns to eliminate the liklihood of a majority ballot in favour of recognition.

Given the heritage of some of the crew who have signed the statement the language is almost revolutionary:

A rising tide lifts all boats only when labor and management bargain on relatively equal terms. In recent decades, most bargaining power has resided with management. The current recession will further weaken the ability of workers to bargain individually. More than ever, workers will need to act together.

Clearly these are changing times and I am sure that you wish the passage and confirmation of the Act to proceed.

Comments on this are welcome.




ian said...

Lets hope the act is brought in and put on the books asap.
I believe a lot of union support for Obama is based on this act. It could be a short four years if it doesnt come in


Val said...

Hi Ian,

Just in support of your comments.

Yes indeed, there was a huge degree of union support for Obama and coincidentally, I was talking to a UNITE official last week who was one of team of UK trade unionists sent to the states to support his campaign.

Although the right wing in the states might suggest that the Act is a 'gift' to the movement after Obama's success (and why not anyway - look at how the Bush's and Reagan rewarded their allies) in a wider sense the American working class is essentially being brutalised and punished in the current economic climate - and independent trade unions are at last acknowledged as the best vehicle to right historical wrongs.

Best wishes


PS Do you really look like that?

Ian Manborde said...

Hi Ian/Val,

Many thanks for kicking off the discussion here.

There are many, many reasons why we need a strong, vigorous trade union movement in the States; not least to work concertedly with unions across the globe on the critical issues around the economy, the environment and economic development in the Global South.

Val raises interesting issues around the extent to which the Act is literally a favour paid back. I tend to agree that even if it is, so what? The similar actions of Bush et al were only ever about secreting power and influence within a narrow elite.

The Act seeks to further democratise the Amerian polity via the workplace - although there will be detractors - that cannot be a bad thing.