Educating on Employee Free Choice, Part 36

Paul Begala has an incredibly powerful and persuasive op-ed in Politico today making the case for the Employee Free Choice Act. After introducing nightmare hypothetical scenarios of workers getting fired for trying to organize, Begala pulls back the curtain and reveals the stories are about real workers who were fighting for better jobs.

All of these stories are absolutely true. The stories of Trish Miechur, the CNA, and Corey Kresse, the metalworker, are replicated in boardrooms and factories across America. The story of Ken Lewis, Bank of America’s CEO? Well, that’s a familiar one, too. So here’s the question: Why are their experiences so different? Whom do we want our economic policies to benefit?

For eight years under the GOP, economic policy gave CEOs such as Ken Lewis the gold mine, while giving hardworking, middle-class Americans such as Trish and Corey the shaft. President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress were elected to change that, and protecting employees from corporate abuses is part of the change we need. That’s what the Employee Free Choice Act will do.

Corporate lobbyists say the phrase “Employee Free Choice Act” as though it were a curse. But for Trish and Corey, it’s a blessing. The point of the Employee Free Choice Act is to say that we’ve had enough of an economy that works for Ken Lewis — and Bernie Madoff, for that matter. We want an economy that works for Trish Miechur and Corey Kresse.

The Employee Free Choice Act gives workers an opportunity to bargain with their employers for better job security, wages and health care at a time of astounding corporate greed. The legislation has three main parts: 1) It says that when a majority of workers want to form a union, a real path is provided for them to do so — a path chosen by workers, not corporate special interests; 2) it penalizes employers who try to fire or harass workers for attempting to form a union; and 3) it says that once workers have voted for a union, employers have to come to agreement with workers on a contract. Simple stuff, right?

So why are corporate interests squealing like a pig stuck under a gate? Maybe because they’re the only ones who prospered under the Bush-Lewis-Madoff policies.

As of now, it’s unclear when the Employee Free Choice Act will be given a vote in Congress. Recent press stories, based largely around anonymous comments from Democratic aides, has suggested that it is unlikely the bill will get a vote any time soon and especially not prior to the completion of healthcare reform. But legislative delays don’t diminish the moral and economic imperative for sweeping labor reform and as a result, we must continue to call on Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act with majority sign-up.   As Begala notes, this popular piece of legislation will get America’s economy moving again, so we have no time to lose.

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