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Half a Million and Counting
Written by Erin Johansson   
September 17, 2008

The anti-union Employee Freedom Action Committee is spending millions to run advertisements depicting majority sign-up as a new, off-the-wall, and anti-democratic process that, if the Employee Free Choice Act passes, will allow unions to intimidate employees into joining.

Yet new research by American Rights at Work reveals that with little fanfare, more than half a million Americans have already formed unions through majority sign-up since 2003. In fact, majority sign-up is now more commonly used than the National Labor Relations Board election process—no surprise given that research has found it to be less coercive.

A diverse range of employees have formed unions through the fair and efficient majority sign-up process in the last five years, including 11,000 UPS Freight workers, 225 reporters and editors at Dow Jones, 162 nuclear engineers at Pacific Gas & Electric, and 8,000 farmworkers jointly employed by Mount Olive Pickle and the North Carolina Growers Association. Yet these hundreds of thousands of employees who now enjoy the benefits of union representation were only able to organize through majority sign-up because they were either granted that right by state laws, or because their employers voluntarily agreed to recognize their union without forcing them to endure the lengthy, often contentious NLRB election process.

The Employee Free Choice Act would allow private employees across the nation to choose whether to form a union through majority sign-up or an NLRB election. Currently the employers hold all the power to choose what method workers will use to demonstrate their majority. There are now 22 laws in 12 states that grant certain public and private employees the right to majority sign-up. Let’s hope the next Congress will catch up to the states and reform labor law to better reflect the wishes of America’s workers.

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American Rights at Work is a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to promoting the freedom of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with employers.


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