Congress Must Pass the Employee Free Choice Act
Labor unions are one of the best ways for workers to bring greater justice to their workplaces. Better wages and benefits, improved safety, fairer treatment of grievances, an end to arbitrary or unjust firings, increased input in workplace decisions, and greater dignity on the job are some of the important advances that workers can achieve through a union.
Unions also work for social and economic justice in the larger society: to raise the minimum wage, enact universal health insurance, bring paid sick leave to all workers, and expand unemployment benefits.
Unions are especially needed today. In recent years as the U.S. economy has grown increasingly unequal, workers have not received their fair share of the economic pie. Unions can help address this imbalance. Also during this period of financial crisis, unions can help ensure that workers and working families receive the support they need.
The right of workers to form or join unions is so important and fundamental that it is an internationally-recognized human right, Article 23 in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But this right is seriously eroded in the U.S. Today when workers seek to form a union, it is not uncommon for employers to engage in illegal activities to block or discourage them. Labor laws are weak, enforcement is lax, and employers’ penalties for violations are trivial.
The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) strengthens workers’ right to form a union. Sign the online petition in support of the Employee Free Choice Act
1) The Act stiffens the penalties for employers who break the law and violate workers’ ability to freely choose whether to form a union.
2) It allows workers, not employers, to select the process by which they decide whether to form a union: either by a ballot or majority sign up (“card check”). Currently employers, not workers, select the decision-making process and usually choose a “secret ballot election.” This sounds democratic but, typically, is a very biased process. Moreover, most violations of workers’ rights occur in the weeks immediately before the election.
3) The Act ensures that after forming a union, workers will be able to negotiate a contract with their employer covering pay, benefits, and working conditions. Current law requires both the union and management to bargain in “good faith” until they agree on a contract. But this does not always happen. In 45% of cases (nearly half), agreement on a contract is not reached and workers are unable to realize many of the potential benefits of a union. Under EFCA either the union or management may call in a mediator if a contract has not been signed after three months of negotiation and, if necessary, call for binding arbitration 30 days later.
God’s reign does not stop at the door to the workplace. The Church and people of faith are called to seek out and accompany people wherever they are including on their jobs. Unions are one of the best ways for workers to ensure greater justice in the workplace. Workers’ right to organize unions must be strengthened by passing the Employee Free Choice Act.
Show your support for the Employee Free Choice Act by signing the online petition, hosted by Jobs with Justice.
More information on unions and the right to organize from Justice & Witness Ministries:
Why Christians Support Unions
Witness for Justice: "Workers Need the Right to Form Unions"