This is in response to Scott Lansley’s column April 5 about the Employee Free Choice Act.
As my fellow union brother Rick Cailler, president of the Lewiston Firefighters, wrote April 17, “While the concept of an editorial is an independent opinion, one might have assumed that facts would have had some importance.”
Lansley spreads the misinformation that the Employee Free Choice Act takes away a worker’s right to a private ballot when deciding whether or not to join a union. Under current law, there are two ways for workers to form unions: one, through secret ballot elections and, two, through majority sign-up. In both cases, all potential union members sign “authorization cards” that simply state that the signer authorizes the union to bargain with management on their behalf.
When a majority of the workers sign the cards, management can either recognize the union, or force a secret ballot election, which often triggers a corporate anti-union campaign where workers are routinely fired, discriminated against and harassed to keep them from voting for the union.
The Employee Free Choice Act would change the law to let workers form a union when a majority authorizes the union to bargain on their behalf, regardless of whether the corporation agrees to recognize their union.
The Employee Free Choice Act doesn’t change the statutory provision that allows workers to request a government-supervised secret ballot election. On the contrary, the legislation offers employees an alternative to the current system (which is slanted heavily in favor of corporations). It aims to strengthen legal protections for workers who seek to unionize or who face coercive conduct by employers during labor-management negotiations.
The Employee Free Choice Act is a common sense way to rebuild the nation’s middle class and put the economy back on the right track. Although it is true that only about 20 percent of American workers are in unions, that 20 percent sets the standards across the board in salaries, benefits and working conditions. On average, union employees earn 30 percent more than non-union employees, have a voice at work, and are more likely to have health care and retirement benefits.
Unsurprisingly, more than half of the current workforce in the United States say they would join a union tomorrow if they could. It’s an economic recovery plan that allows workers to help themselves and won’t cost taxpayers a cent. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice.”
David C. Projansky, Lewiston
AFSCME Local 1458.

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