I would like to add a comment to the debate regarding the Employee Free Choice Act, based on painful personal experience.
It is now clear that the National Labor Relations Act is broken, as far as providing for free and fair union elections, and new laws are necessary.
In the 1980s, Stride Rite came to Auburn to take over the Belgrade Shoe factory. The company decided to fight the election petition of the Lewiston-Auburn Shoeworkers Association, even though more than 60 percent of the workers had signed union cards. That was at a time when unemployment locally exceeded 12 percent. The company frightened the workers by implying that it would leave town if the union won the election.
The company’s campaign of fear was successful.
The NLRB agreed with the union’s appeal that the company had engaged in illegal conduct and ordered the company to bargain with the union despite the company’s election victory. Stride Rite appealed that decision to the courts. The court of appeals upheld the labor board’s decision, but by then, so much time had passed that the union’s membership had eroded to the point where it was unable to negotiate a satisfactory contract with the company. Thus, although the union won the legal battles, the company was ultimately the winner as a practical matter.
Had the Employee Free Choice Act been in effect at that time, that unfair outcome would not have occurred.
Curtis Webber, Auburn


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