In the Wall Street Journal today, Thomas Frank wrote that — in light of the new progressive mandate — “it is likely that we really do want universal health care and some measure of wealth-spreading, and even would like to see it become easier to organize a union in the workplace.”
To this end, Frank makes the case for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would enable workers to form a union by signing cards of consent, instead of having to undergo a full unionization campaign and vote, which often ends in employer intimidation or a simple denial of the right to vote.
The Wonk Room has noted before the widespread public support for the Free Choice Act, and the conservative fearmongering about the results the bill would have. In his piece, Frank lays out one of the more virulent reactions, courtesy of Home Depot founder and former CEO Bernie Marcus:
“This is the demise of a civilization,” moaned Bernie Marcus, cofounder and former CEO of The Home Depot, during an Oct. 17 conference call about card check. “This is how a civilization disappears. I’m sitting here as an elder statesman, and I’m watching this happen, and I don’t believe it.” Mr. Marcus sketched out the doomsday scenario for his listeners, with unions going after what he called the “low hanging fruit” and proceeding to organize workers in industry after industry.
Marcus allegedly added that “If a retailer has not gotten involved with this, if he has not spent money on this election, if he has not sent money to Norm Coleman and these other guys,” who oppose the Free Choice Act, then the retailers “should be shot; should be thrown out of their goddamn jobs.”
But easing the path toward unionization is hardly the end of civilization, unless Marcus deems increased wages along with better health and pension benefits for America’s workers to be civilization’s death knell.
As Michael Whitney explained on the SEIU blog:
CEO-types like Home Depot’s Bernie Marcus and Wal-Mart’s Lee Scott have their hands on the steering well, and anyone who fails to heed their battle cry to block attempts by workers to take control of the wheel ‘should be shot.’ It’s too bad that for the last several decades, this cavalier attitude has led these greedy CEOs to drive the car off the economic cliff.
Indeed, as corporate profits have been going up in recent years, workers wages have stagnated. Shared prosperity through increased unionization, not the end of civilization, is what backers of the Employee Free Choice Act are looking to create.