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.
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