Simpletruthiness’s Weblog

In Support of EFCA

Posted in Politics by simpletruthiness on May 4, 2009

I believe that everyone should have the choice to join a union let me tell you why. My grandfather can do many very practical things such as farming,raising animals and fixing lawn mower engines  and is fluent in two languages there is one thing he can’t do however;he can’t read . Although he is illiterate he happens to enjoy a relatively well funded and comfortable retirement in a nice home free from want complete with  good insurance that has seen my grandparents through Cancer and other illnesses that would wipe out the less fortunate. He owes his good retirement to two things my grandmother’s money management and the fact that he was able to join a union when he worked as a longshoreman (think Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront). The labor union to which he belong guaranteed him  a decent wage and fair benefits for his very hard work. My father now belongs to the very same union. I once belonged to a different yet equally beneficial union.
The Employee Free Choice Act seeks to help more workers obtain the opportunity to be fairly compensated for their contributions. This bill has been fiercely opposed by business interests. Wal-mart not content with a large political action committee held meetings during the 2008 elections in which employees were encouraged to vote against democratic candidates because they would force them to unionize and thereby cost them their jobs.
These claims are patently false. The EFCA only provides more options for employees to choose to unionize and takes the decision away from the company and put it into the hands of the workers themselves, It does not “force” unionization nor does it do away with secret ballots another popular myth going around. Choice is really the operative word at play. Many of the arguments against unions in general and this proposal don’t hold much water. EFCA will close federal loopholes that employers exploit to thwart attempts to unionize. It will the first time every impose a fine on employers who break the laws pertaining to unions. Secret ballots are still an option.
Under the EFCA there would be two methods of organizing:
1.  Majority sign-up: Under this method, workers sign valid forms indicating their preference for a union. EFCA would change existing law so that an employer must recognize its employees’ union when a majority of its workers has authorized union representation using majority sign-up.
2. Secret ballot elections: Under the Employee Free Choice Act, workers are still free to organize using “secret ballot” elections.
3. both majority sign-up and secret ballot elections have been in existence since 1935 but, under current law, employers can disregard the results of majority sign-up and force employees to use secret ballot elections. In fact, a company’s management can refuse to recognize a union even when 100% of its employers have signed authorization cards indicating that they want a union.
Companies  argue that unions and higher wages will hurt the bottom line and force them to lay off workers. This is a scare tactic will Wal-mart decide to stop making money?Doubtful.Will better wages keep them from competing or force  them to dramatically raise prices? Not necessarily take the example of  Costco which competes directly with Wal-mart’s Sams club and pays on average 72% more than Sam’s but spends substantially less on hiring and training because people stay and they work harder. Costco turnover rate overall is 17% dropping to 6% after one year of employment with Wal-mart/Sam’s at 44% throughout. The total annual cost to Costco of employee churn is $244 million, whereas the total annual cost to Sam’s Club is $612 million. That’s $5,274 per Sam’s Club employee, versus $3,628 per Costco employee according to the Harvard Business Review. Costco also has one of the lowest rates of employee theft in the retail industry. People know instinctively when they are being treated fairly. The Employee Free Choice Act at its’ core is about fairness. Fair wages for a days work. I won’t even address the ridiculous claims about communism, people throwing that term around are beyond all reason. One could also argue that if companies like Wal-mart didn’t depress wages people wouldn’t depend on them to keep prices rock bottom. Its’ a top down vicious cycle. Costco stock regularly out-prices Wal-mart stock. Treating workers fairly and turning a profit can be done.
Opponents of unionized labor would have people believe that unions hurt  the economy as a whole by adversely affecting businesses. A September 2008 study by the non-partisan Los Angeles Economic Roundtable would say different, it found what unions in Los Angeles with 17 percent (5 percent higher than national average)of the labor force – and their wage differential of 27 percent higher over non-unionized labor amounts to an additional $7.2 billion a year in wages. As these workers spend their wages  their additional buying power creates 64,800 jobs and generates $11 billion in economic output in Los Angeles. Jim Sinegal co-founder of Costco is famous for saying “we’ve always been in favor of improved wages for workers. When you have a strong middle class, they want to buy more stuff at Costco.” It should be mentioned however that Mr. Sinegal willingly takes in compensation  a fraction of what most people in his position “earn”.
Denying workers the ability to earn fair compensation and benefits for their work is antithetical to the core American value,that people who are willing to work deserve a chance to get ahead and lead a good life. The Employee Free Choice Act will give more Americans their fair shot at the American dream just like my family has had