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Huffington Post: GOP Blocks Obama's Labor Nominee, Pushes Big Lie on "Card Check"

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 09:36 AM
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Huffington Post: GOP Blocks Obama's Labor Nominee, Pushes Big Lie on "Card Check"

Art Levine
Posted January 24, 2009

Despite rising unemployment and a cratering economy, the GOP has placed a hold on the nomination of President Obama's choice for Secretary of Labor, the pro-worker Hilda Solis. The issue at stake is the Employee Free Choice Act, which aims to give workers a level playing field by allowing workers to choose a majority sign-up approach, dubbed "card check" by anti-union flacks, for selecting a union -- rather than keeping that option in the hands of employers.

But the original Wagner Act in the 1930s gave workers the right to use a majority sign-up process if they so choose, rather than the current election system that allows widespread intimidation by employers.

Studies of hundreds of organizing campaigns have found that a fifth of all pro-union activists are fired during a campaign, half of all employers threaten to shut down their plant and roughly 80% of employers hire unionbusting consultants. Employers are still free under the proposed Employee Free Choice Act to hold intimidating one-on-one "sweat" sessions to legally discourage workers from joining a union. And, as I found out while going undercover to a unionbusting seminar, it's equally legal for employers to just lie about the dire consequences facing workers if they join a union, from closed plants to somehow losing seniority and benefits. That's the system the Employee Free Choice Act was designed to reform, by increasing penalties for corporate lawbreaking, allowing employees to choose the majority sign-up approach but still retaining the employees' rights to hold a secret-ballot NLRB election if they want.

Even so, the right wing and the GOP have launched a high-profile smear campaign claiming, falsely, that the bill takes away the right to a secret ballot. Based on that lie, GOP leaders , with the help of an anonymous Republican Senator who has put a hold on Solis's nomination, are trying to force the Obama administration and any wavering Democratic Senators into backing away from the Employee Free Choice Act. But the Obama administration and leaders in Congress still support the legislation, even if they're not launching a full-court press to push the bill right now, because the economic recovery package is the top priority.

For now, GOP leaders -- just as with their unionbusting opposition to the auto bailout -- appear to be willing to play "chicken" with the nation's troubled economy by holding up the vote on the Labor Secretary, a key player in the Obama administration's economic recovery team. Stewart Acuff, the special assistant to the AFL-CIO president, bluntly condemns the risky tactic -- and points out its dangers to the GOP itself: " It's a bogus issue for them to use to hold up a Latino woman from a working-class background who understands the labor movement from the ground up and is a strong proponent of workers' rights. It's ridiculous and ultimately damaging to their party."

On top of that, with Obama enjoying nearly 80 percent public support, their obstructionist tactics over Solis throw a roadblock into Obama's plans for an economic recovery, with the Labor Department playing a key role in everything from jobs retraining to stopping wage theft to extending unemployment benefits. And the Employee Free Choice Act, as a new report from American Rights at Work Points out, is an essential part of making any economic recovery plan work. As underscored by the AFL-CIO NOW blog:

Restoring the right to form unions is a key part of an economic strategy to bring shared and sustainable prosperity to the middle class, creating the workforce needed for future economic growth, and ensuring workers have a role in crafting future policies that represent their interests.

The report, drawing on work by policy experts and journalists around the country, links the current economic crisis to a lack of bargaining power in the hands of workers--a problem due in large part to the fact that forming a union has become "a risk, not a right." Workers who try to form unions are routinely harassed, intimidated or fired with little to no legal recourse--denying them the bargaining power they need to improve their wages, benefits and economic security.

FULL story at link.

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dcsmart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:49 PM
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