Friday, September 11, 2009

What Happens When Workers Organize

Yesterday, we attended the Employee Free Choice Day of Action in DC. There, we met Cheri Seise, a student at the College of William & Mary, who told us about the cafeteria workers' fight to form a union.

As she said, they had simple, logical complaints, complaints that have yet to be rectified. So they started what is a grueling process to form a union. Management immediately held meetings to discuss the issue. They threatened to hold paychecks. They scared and intimidated the workers. And the fight to form a union quickly halted.

What is worse, is that under our current laws, there is no retribution for this type of management. Even when a manager is caught firing an employee for union organizing, the only retribution is that the employee is rehired and given back pay, minus what that person could have made at another job. What kind of punishment is that. This is one of the most important aspects of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). If EFCA passes as is, employers could be fined $20,000 for unfair labor practices, such as threatening to hold paychecks.

What is probably more important than all the other parts of the bill put together is this ability to actually find retribution for unfair labor practices. Without that, management will deem it less costly to threaten workers, or fire them, for union organizing.
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