Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

53% of Americans Support Making it Easier to Join Unions

A new independent Gallup poll shows that Americans support the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) by 53%.  That’s a 14 point gap between the supporters and the 39% who oppose EFCA (the rest are undecided).  The  Employee Free Choice Act is a bill that would make forming a union easier.  Currently, if workers want a union they must first sign a petition or cards showing enough support for an election. Then go to management. Management is supposed to schedule  a secret ballot election.  What really happens is that management calls in professional union busters who teach them how to intimidate workers into voting it down–including many tactics which are illegal but unlikely to get the company caught and sanctioned.

UPDATE: I’ve changed the title of this post to reflect the actual wording of the poll as published in USA Today. I have  tried to find out if the Gallup Poll mentioned EFCA by name in its question or if it spelled out something close to EFCA’s provisions, to no avail.  So, the actual poll shows less than I first thought. It shows: 1. Americans are generally in favor of more unions and know that the erosion of unions has led to the weakening of the Middle Class. 2. Americans are aware that the current rules throw many roadblocks in the way of workers’ legal rights to unionize and use collective bargaining for better wages, benefits, and working conditions.

The poll can still be useful to advocates of EFCA in pushing Congress to pass the bill, but Gallup would have helped us more if it had mentioned EFCA by name or given its actual provisions (e.g., “Would you favor giving workers’ the right to skip secret ballot elections if over 50% signed cards in favor of unionization? Or a supermajority of 60%? Would you favor workers rather than management scheduling the elections for unionization? Would you favor more enforcement of labor laws to prevent management from union busting?”).  I suspect that the majority would still be in favor, but someone should poll with these questions to give us actual data.

EFCA would give employees the choice to skip the scheduled election. If the majority just sign the cards, the union is formed. Opponents keep repeating the lie that EFCA would take away the right to secret ballot elections and leave workers open to union intimidation. False.  The right to secret ballot elections is preserved, but the workers get the choice. And, if they choose an election, the workers, not management, get to schedule it.

Congress passed EFCA in 2007 and it was vetoed by then-Pres. Bush.  Pres. Obama has promised to sign it, but several of the Senate Democrats who previously voted for it (Lincoln (D-AR), Pryor (D-AR), Landrieu (D-LA), Bayh (D-IN) ) are now wavering, along with the one GOP Senator who voted for it, Arlen Specter (R-PA).  If any of these are your Senators, you might show them that, once again, the American people are ahead of their elected officials.

More unions will not, of course, help speed up economic  recovery–but it will help us ensure that we create an economy that works for everyone.  Instead of just protecting the white collar folk who shower before work, let’s start standing up for those who  need to shower when they come home from work, too.

UPDATE: The U.S. Chambers of Commerce and several major corporations like Wal-Mart have promised to fight EFCA in the courts if it passes. Let them.  The struggle for a wide middle class will never be easy.  But EFCA will help to level the playing field.  The current Wall Street greed also helps our cause as people see that the rich have been waging class war on us for some time–and then crying “class war” whenever working people organize for justice.

March 17, 2009 - Posted by | economic justice


  1. If you actually read the Gallup poll the question was should it be easier to organize. 53% said yes but it was not a question on EFCA. Follow-up questions show that most people who said yes to making organizing easier were clueless about EFCA.

    It is also misleading to state that the secret ballot is still an option under EFCA. It would rarely occur. Furthermore, it is not the workers who would make that decision. The paid union organizer would. They will collect the cards from employees. If they get a majority plus one they can give them to the labor board and get certification immediately. No election of any kind.

    Pro-EFCA spinners are out there claiming that the secret ballot would not go away and that it is up to the workers. This is clearly misleading and probably more fair to call it a lie. If they are doing this now, what tactics will they use to mislead workers into signing union cards?

    Please don’t be a useful idiot for an unjust cause.

    Comment by Dave Dingee | March 18, 2009

  2. Dave, I think you are the one behind an unjust cause. I won’t insult you by calling you an idiot, useful or otherwise.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | March 18, 2009

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