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Time Is Not on Our Side
Written by Erin Johansson   
May 28, 2008

If you need a reason for Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act and grant employees the right to form unions through majority sign-up, let me refer you to the case of Green Valley Manor.  In the span of three weeks last summer, employees of this nursing home in St. Louis, Mo., attempted to form a union and were forced to stop in the face of retaliation by their employer. 

Here is a brief timeline of events:

July 16, 2007

Employees begin meeting to discuss forming a union to improve compensation and address the safety concerns from working with serious psychiatric patients.

August 2-3

Supervisors interrogate employees to determine who is behind the union effort.

August 2 

Company fires two union supporters.

August 3

With a majority of employees signing union authorization cards, the Service Employees International Union petitions the NLRB to hold an election, which the agency scheduled for September.

August 6

Company fires third union supporter.

August 7

Company fires fourth union supporter.

August 7

Company calls the police to stop a union representative who was legally handing out information to employees on a public road.

August 10 

A supervisor swerves his car within feet of an employee legally handing out union information and threatens to call the police if they don’t stop.

The union later filed unfair labor practice charges against the company, putting the election on hold indefinitely.  Now nearly a year later, an administrative law judge ruled that Green Valley Manor violated the law with the above actions, and ordered it to reinstate the fired employees

Had the Employee Free Choice Act been the law of the land last summer, these Green Valley employees could be well on their way to improving their workplace—having won their union last August when a majority signed cards, rather than enduring more anti-union assaults in the weeks leading up to the election. 

***On a more practical note: money doesn’t exactly fall from trees to fund our efforts to educate the public about workers’ rights issues, so if you want to support the American Rights at Work Education Fund, please join us at our 2008 Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Awards Celebration on June 24.  It promises to be an entertaining and enlightening event, and you can get that nice tax deduction from the donation.