In the last few weeks, conservatives have amplified their criticism of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a bill that passed the House but stalled in the Senate in 2007, and that may be revived in the next Congress. The EFCA would offer “a fairer path for workers to unionize” by enabling them to form a union by signing cards of consent, instead of having to undergo a full unionization campaign and vote.
One of the conservatives bashing the EFCA recently was Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), who said that the legislation promotes “something called card-check … which would take away the right to a secret ballot in a union election.” He added that “unions would be able to browbeat workers into signing the cards.”
On MSNBC today, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said he “can’t think of a more insidious bill.” Watch it:
Coleman and Hatch join former Congressman Bob Schaffer (R-CO), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Jim Demint (R-SC), and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), along with George Will and the National Review, in berating the bill.
These conservatives, however, are all missing the point. First, the EFCA “would not eliminate traditional elections.” Majority sign-ups, meanwhile, are “usually fairer than secret-ballot elections,” as the current method “allows companies to pressure workers through a formal campaign.”
The importance of unions to the American worker can not really be understated. The AFL-CIO notes that “60 million U.S. workers would join a union if they could.” Union workers on average make 30 percent in more in wages than non-union workers, and are more likely to have health insurance.
This is important because, in recent years, wages have stagnated. Wages were actually 0.3% lower in June 2008 than they were in March 2001. Meanwhile, in 2007 top business executives earned “344 times the salary of the average American worker.” Between 1980 and 2005, as unionization rates plummeted, CEO pay rose.
As the Institute for Policy Studies wrote, the Employee Free Choice Act is “legislation that would help workers realize their right to organize into unions and bargain collectively with their employers.” If this is the most insidious bill that Hatch has seen, he really hasn’t seen anything insidious at all.