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Employee Free Choice Act to give Workers a Fair Shot at the American Dream

February 9, 2007

Kimberly Freeman
202-822-2127, ext. 111
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WASHINGTON, DC—Earlier this week Rep. George Miller (D-CA) introduced the Employee Free Choice Act in the House of Representatives (H.R. 800). The proposed legislation would ensure that workers have a free choice and a fair chance to form a union. Sen. Edward Kennedy plans to introduce the bill in the Senate in upcoming weeks.

Under the current labor law system, employers often use a combination of legal and illegal tactics to silence employees who attempt to form unions and bargain for better wages and working conditions. When faced with organizing drives, 25 percent of employers fire at least one pro-union worker; 51 percent threaten to close a worksite if the union prevails; and, 91 percent force employees to attend one-on-one anti-union meetings with their supervisors. In addition, the system designed to protect workers is severely broken. Laws and enforcement fail to sufficiently protect workers, offering penalties that are too weak to deter violations.

"When the person who signs your paycheck tells you the union is a bad idea, you do not have a free choice," says Mary Beth Maxwell, Executive Director of American Rights at Work, a national labor policy and advocacy group. "Employers manipulate current U.S. labor law to deny workers a chance to freely decide. The Employee Free Choice Act would give back workers their rights in the workplace."

In response to the escalating use of threats, intimidation, and harassment during union organizing campaigns, a growing bipartisan coalition of policymakers supports the Employee Free Choice Act. The bill would level the playing field by:

  • strengthening penalties against lawbreaking employers;
  • requiring mediation and arbitration to help employers and employees reach a first contract in a reasonable period of time; and
  • permitting workers to form a union through "majority sign-up," a process in which workers present signed authorization cards as a demonstration of their choice to form a union.

"Without labor law reform, economic opportunity for America’s working families will continue to erode," says Maxwell. "Workers in America know that joining a union to bargain with employers over wages, benefits, and working conditions is the best path to getting ahead."

American Rights at Work has issued a number of reports exposing both the barriers that workers face when they attempt to form unions to engage in bargaining, and the failings of current U.S. labor law. Resources can be accessed on the organization’s website: