Today, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) introduced the Employee Free Choice Act in both houses of Congress. The bill would give workers a fairer path to forming unions, affording them an opportunity to bargain for higher wages and better benefits.
Predictably, this has set off a swarm of lobbying, as business leaders, in conjunction with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, try to squash the legislation. The Chamber and and rest of the anti-Employee Free Choice lobby “have said they will spend about $200 million on advertising and lobbying to block the measure.” That’s $200 million dollars to ensure that workers can’t have a fair shot at earning better wages.
But if that $200 million was instead put toward raising workers’ wages to union levels, it could do a lot of good. In fact, about 85,091 workers could earn the union wage premium — the difference between unionized workers’ wages and their non-union counterparts on average — for six months with that money. The Wonk Room examined what percentage of employees working for some of the Employee Free Choice Act’s premier corporate opponents this number represents:
But what about the significant implications that higher wages and better health insurance could have for Burger King employees? Big business is betting that $200 million will ensure we never find out.
Methodology: $200 million / $2.26 per hour (union wage premium) / 40 hours per week / 26 weeks (six months) = 85,091