As I mentioned earlier in the week, I’ll be on Meet The Bloggers today discussing the Employee Free Choice Act. I’ve been thinking on this all week and want to thank those who chimed in with thoughts and questions. Unfortunately, I won’t have a chance to actually question SEIU President Andy Stern.

But that notwithstanding, I do have some thoughts on the matter.

First, what is the Employee Free Choice Act?

The Employee Free Choice Act will make it easier for men and women to join a union in their workplace. The legislation would give workers a fair and direct path to form unions through majority sign-up, help employees secure a contract with their employer in a reasonable period of time, and toughen penalties against employers who violate their workers’ rights.

The Employee Free Choice Act can restore the balance, giving more workers a chance to form unions and get better health care, job security, and benefits – and an opportunity to pursue their dreams

Here’s an explanatory video

Now, what does that mean?

Unions are not perfect. I’ve had some experience with unionized workforces and have seen some of the problems: gratuitous grievance filings, attitudes of entitlement and resistance to innovation and changes in the business environment. But I would argue that these imperfections pale in comparison to the imperfections of the select few who truly control and benefit from our corporate system: insane compensation ratios, unchecked accounting, dangerous short-term management focus and gross perversion of the political system.

What unions provide to workers and society is tangible and worth the cost of any imperfections. For example, unionized workers get better pay and benefits. This is especially true for women, blacks and latinos. Check out this chart

Union vs. Non-Union Compensation Advantage

The improved compensation for unionized black and Latino workers is tremendous versus non-unionized workers. Let’s put this in context. Here’s an excerpt of an article in the American Journal of Public Health

The generally abysmal health status of men of African descent best demonstrates the great peril that poor men have to face. Life expectancy for African American men is 7.1 years shorter than that for all men.

  • Forty percent of African American men die prematurely from cardiovascular disease, compared with 21% of White men.
  • And death rates for HIV/AIDS are nearly 5 times higher for African American men than for White men.
  • African American men also have the highest incidence rates of oral cancer.
  • Sadly, the health status of African American men may serve as the proverbial canary in the coal mine for other poor men in this nation and in our global village, and it is a clarion call to health care providers and policymakers charged with defending the nation’s health.

This society has no system in place to support the health and health-seeking behaviors of men who work at the lowest wage levels or of those who are unable to work as a result of poor education, absence of jobs, mismatch in skills, or other reasons…


Recent articles in major US newspapers have shown how poor men jeopardize their health as they seek to support their families and themselves.Working conditions are frequently hazardous, and policies designed to protect these employees are often grossly inadequate.

We are under assault. Union membership has been plummeting for decades, and with it so have the wages and benefits of workers and thus the resources available to communities across the country. As workers rights to organize have been curtailed, the powerful have organized themselves quite effectively.

Our system is completely out of balance.

What would the Employee Free Choice Act solve?

Right now, employers decide how their employees can form unions. If they don’t like the result of the vote, they get to force a do-over, and in the interim they often fire the leaders and intimidate those remaining into submission. What a convenient system. Don’t like the outcome of a vote? Just change it. I wish I had that power.

The Employee Free Choice Act makes it easier for workers to organize and in so doing can restore some of the balance we’ve lost in our economy.

Sign the petition to help get it passed.

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