Employee Free Choice Act is No Armageddon (Rep. Phil Hare)

In his March 11 blog, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) makes references to Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi people’s struggle for democracy. So what was he blogging about? The Employee Free Choice Act of course.

He isn’t the first person to resort to hysterics when arguing against this common sense legislation. Randel Johnson of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce predicted that debate on the Employee Free Choice Act would be a “firestorm bordering on Armageddon.” So much for thoughtful discourse.

Republicans and their big business allies have resorted to the politics of fear in an effort to kill legislation designed to give workers the opportunity to join a union freely and fairly. They have done it for the most part by advancing the straw man argument that the Employee Free Choice Act would eliminate workers’ rights to a secret ballot. This, of course, is categorically false.

Under current law, workers can form a union through an election or majority sign-up. They only get the latter choice if their employer agrees. The Employee Free Choice Act simply leaves the decision of whether and how to form a union up to workers—not their bosses.

Again, let me make it clear. The Employee Free Choice Act still provides for a secret ballot election, triggered when 30 percent of workers petition for one–the same as current law.

The problem is that the current system for forming unions is badly broken. Employers routinely intimidate, harass, coerce, reassign, or even fire workers who support a union. In 25 percent of all organizing drives, the employer unlawfully fires at least one worker for union activity. Is this the standard of democracy Rep. Scalise is striving for?

Majority sign-up is a reasonable alternative that has been has been around since the 1930’s. In the last 6 years alone, half a million workers have organized this way. And amazingly no Armageddon yet.