Today, during an appearance at the National Press Club, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered a two-minute diatribe against the Employee Free Choice Act, announcing that “this is an issue on which there will be no bi-partisanship,” and that the act will “fundamentally harm and Europeanize America”:
I came here to speak about bi-partisanship, but this is an issue on which there will be no bi-partisanship…This is an outrageous proposal. It will fundamentally harm America and Europeanize America and we will have a big political fight over this.
First, the stat that McConnell trotted out from former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao (who is also McConnell’s wife) was completely distorted. He claimed that only 7 percent of the private sector (about 8.8 million workers) being unionized indicates that workers don’t want to join unions. However, an AFL-CIO survey found that there are 60 million American workers who say that they would join a union if they could.
People get fired. Employees are forced into captive meetings where they are threatened and intimidated and warned of plant closures. Union supporters get brutal shifts, unpredictable schedules,and cruel workplace treatment. Those things are happening.
And since McConnell warns that Employee Free Choice will “fundamentally harm and Europeanize America,” it’s worth pointing out that — even using data from the conservative Heritage Foundation — countries with the highest degree of “economic freedom” have “far more worker-friendly labor laws than we do in this nation.” This includes not just Europe, but Australia and Canada. As Seth Michaels noted, “In giving corporations veto power over how workers form unions, the United States is a rare exception among industrialized democracies.”
Employee Free Choice is not about the ludicrous concept of “eliminating the secret ballot” or “Europeanizing America.” As Paul Krugman said, it’s about enabling America “to take a huge step toward recapturing the middle-class society we’ve lost.”