Hold Fast

A Blog by Matt Browner Hamlin

Hold Fast - a blog by Matt Browner Hamlin

Reframing Employee Free Choice

December 21st, 2008 · 1 Comment

D-Day has written one of the best posts on the Employee Free Choice Act I’ve seen recently. He works to move away from the conservative frame which has permeated all media coverage of the Act, while deconstructing the big business talking points about “ending secret ballots” in union formation.

Too often Democrats let Republicans define the debate, even during this era of epic conservative decline. In the traditional media, the debate over the Employee Free Choice Act has consistently been about whether or not unions want to “eliminate the right to a secret ballot election” for workers.

Now of course, this isn’t true. In fact, even under EFCA, if 30% of the workforce calls for a vote, they get a vote. But this is not the real problem in labor-management relations. That argument is about the implications of EFCA passing. In fact, the current circumstances of labor elections is the problem that needs to be solved by EFCA. I finally found the best and most coherent argument around that at the AFL-CIO site (h/t Ezra). The truth is that the system for labor elections, the vaunted “secret ballot,” is broken.

If labor elections were legitimate, there wouldn’t be the need for legislation. Instead, think of it as your “secret ballot” Presidential election marred by: mandatory pro-McCain training sessions held across the country, mandatory meetings where “Obama is a Muslim” propaganda is foregrounded, threats to take away your job if you vote for Obama, and threats to close your workplace entirely if Obama wins. There is nothing democratic about these one-sided farces characterized by intimidation and harassment. That’s why we need a new system for determining whether workers want to collectively bargain, and majority signup is simply the best practice out there.

The Employee Free Choice Act does not restrict workers’ rights, it affirms them. We must make it a reality in 2009.

The terms of the debate have been set against us. Redefining how we talk about the Employee Free Choice Act is critical. There are myths to be busted and D-Day does a good job in his post of setting the example of how it can be done.

I don’t think there’s a single piece of legislation more important to helping working Americans and bolstering the economy than the Employee Free Choice Act. It needs to be at the top of the agenda in 2009.

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Tags: Labor

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Jim C. // Dec 26, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Dems are dumb.You know why?

    Why don’t they just refer to these “elections” as “company elections?” Pull a Frank Luntz and redefine the term– and it’s true, too. Like the old term “company store.” It would quickly gain resonance.

    Just say, “we need to end these unfair company elections” or something like that. Get on TV and say, “these company elections are not fair…”

    It would work. But instead, they just sound like they’re whining. They never know how to frame the issues their way– and it’s why they always lose.