There are few things that can bring Americans from all walks of life together. Today, as baseball fans across the country gear up for the 81st All-Star Game, it’s clear that baseball is one of them. And, despite lining their roster with some of baseball’s biggest names, it’s been over a decade since the National League won the Midsummer Classic.
The players who will take the field in Anaheim tonight are outstanding athletes—household names and heroes to fans worldwide. But many big-league players aren’t just champions in the baseball world. Off the field, they’re also champions of workers’ rights.
In fact, four of the players selected for tonight’s game—Heath Bell, Torii Hunter, Justin Verlander, and Adam Wainwright—have recently come out swinging for labor law reform. Read more »
It was sad to see another editorial board regurgitate the same tired misinformation about labor law reform, disingenuously cloaked in the rhetoric of worker protection.
The truth is that anyone who cares about protecting workers’ rights, and particularly their right to choose a union without coercion from either side, should support employees having the choice to form unions through majority sign-up. Studies show that majority sign-up is more democratic and invites less pressure — from management and from peers — than the current National Labor Relations Board election system. There’s no such thing as anonymity when unscrupulous employers have the right to interrogate employees about their support for a union — and then get away with threatening or firing anyone who does.
So if you’re going to oppose workers having a decent chance at getting ahead, do it honestly. Admit that you want a status quo in which workers have effectively few rights and corporations can flout the law without penalty. I won’t agree with you, but at least we’ll know where we stand.
Amid all the fanfare surrounding the 4th of July last week, another significant milestone in our country’s history slipped by largely unnoticed—the 75th anniversary of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). A vital component of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the NLRA was designed to protect workers’ right to form unions and bargain collectively for better pay, benefits, and working conditions.
As Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis noted in a recent Huffington Post column, passage of the NLRA was touted by many—including celebrated economist John Maynard Keynes—as an integral part of the country’s economic recovery program.
In an op-ed featured in The Hill, our Executive Director Kimberly Freeman Brown joined Secretary Solis in commemorating the Act’s anniversary, and stressed the importance of modernizing the NLRA to meet the needs of today’s workplaces. Read more »
In case anyone is wondering if labor law reform is really needed, the case of Blackstone Hotel in Chicago provides an answer. Workers there formed a union in 2008, but have since faced an onslaught of federal law violations by the hotel. And now, after a year and a half of negotiation, they still don’t have a contract.
Last week, an NLRB administrative law judge ruled that the hotel illegally tried to get employees to decertify the union, and laid off workers and changed employee health plans without involving the union. As Crain’s Chicago Business reports:
I’m glad the NLRB is holding the hotel accountable. But despite this victory, the workers are still waiting for a contract. Read more »
Another anti-worker editorial board is afflicted with the bizarre idea that that union workers are a “privileged class.” But when did making a decent living become a privilege in America? Oh, that’s right: when unscrupulous corporations drove down wages, exploited weak labor laws to keep workers from forming unions, and drove our economy off a cliff—all while raking in record-setting pay and bonuses.
The answer to an economy out of balance isn’t to let greedy corporate CEOs drag down wages and benefits until no one can afford to pay for health care, a home, or retirement. The answer is more workers forming unions — so they can bargain for fair wages, benefits, and economic security.
Written by David Bonior
While working on John Edwards’ presidential campaign, I met working people across the country struggling just to make ends meet. For some time now, the financial hardships experienced by men and women in the heartland have been ignored or even overlooked by politicians and pundits alike in Washington. With last Friday’s news that the nation’s unemployment rate jumped to 5.5 percent in May, the highest monthly rise in two decades, this is no longer the case. Those inside the beltway are finally starting to come to terms and focus on this serious economic crisis.
Our economy is headed on the wrong track and taking good, hard-working people with it. Unemployment is rising through the roof, inflation and energy prices are skyrocketing, and a tragic number of Americans are losing their homes to foreclosure due to the housing and credit crisis. Now more than ever before, we need to continue our efforts to preserve America’s middle class. Workers need political solutions that work for them, and they need political leaders who have strength and courage to get them through these tough times.
At American Rights at Work, we will continue to grow public support for workers’ rights, so the freedom for all men and women to form unions for a better life is restored, guaranteed, and promoted. More than half of U.S. workers—60 million—say they would join a union right now if they could. It’s no secret why. Workers in unions earn 28 percent higher wages on average, and are 62 percent more likely to have employer-covered health coverage. As a critical component of addressing this economic squeeze, we must reform our obsolete labor law system which too often prevents workers from joining a union if they so choose.
We must continue to work with members on both sides of the aisle in finding ways to bolster the rights and opportunities of America’s workers. Our children must know we are fighting for their future or they will lose all hope that the American dream is possible. Leveling the playing field for workers is a critical first step for the next generation to be a part of a thriving and robust middle class that is fundamental to both democracy and the American economy.
David Bonior is a former Congressman and Democratic Whip and is the Chair of American Rights at Work.
Cross-posted to The Hill Blog.