Thursday, July 5, 2007

The voting process on forming a union at work is not democratic — the Employee Free Choice Act is *

* Update 7/10: Rabbi Moshe ben Asher of Chatsworth, CA agrees with us. Read his response to McGough's "Unions labeled" column.

Sr. Editorial Writer Michael McGough for the Los Angeles Times had this to say about the Employee Free Choice Act. While his belief in a fair election process for employees exploring union organization is laudable, it fails to address the one big flaw in the system: the employer's ability to taint the process. If he doubts this, he should ask the very newsroom people he works with about unionizing the LA Times.

We would urge Mr. McGough to ask these questions of his coworkers:

1. Are you afraid that you would lose your job if you support a union?

2. Do you believe that you might suffer some retaliation which could take the form of a lesser beat or an unwelcome work schedule if you support a union?

3. Would you be willing to attend a group meeting held by The Newspaper Guild so you could understand better what having union representation means at the LAT? If not, why not?

You might want to ask these questions during break time or off company property, of course, because the employer can discipline employees for talking about forming a union during work if it affects the product.

The National Labor Relations Act is inadequate in its stated goal of protecting workers' rights. Employers violate those rights regularly and are rarely penalized. The EFCA would help to restore workers' rights under the NLRA by:

1.Establishing stronger penalties for violations of employee rights.

2.Providing mediation and arbitration to help ensure a first contract and thwart an employer's refusal to bargain in good faith.

3.Allowing employees to form unions by "majority sign-up" to help avoid anti-democratic employer coercion.

The EFCA does not eliminate the use of secret ballot elections. If employees request a secret ballot election, the National Labor Relations Board will conduct the secret ballot election.

A secret ballot election at the LAT today could very well garner a majority of the newsroom. But, the fear of losing one's job, being blacklisted in the business or punished for supporting a union is making it difficult to get Mr. McGough's co-workers to talk to each other about a union. How can the laws be changed fairly for someone who might get fired at the LAT? What could be the justice in that case?

In a democracy such as ours, employees should be allowed to decide whether or not they want to be represented by a union. The employer should play no role in this part of the process without the invitation of the employees.

We invite you to get in touch with us about having a union at the LAT. The experience would be worthwhile.

(end of post)

1 comment:

Ronnie Pineda said...

The secret ballot election gives the company an unfair advantage when organizing. It buys them the time necessary to taint the process by enlising the services of highly paid "Union Busters" who specialize in deception and lies!

The fear and intimidation waged against employees is unbearable and very bias against organized labor as a whole.

All you hear about is strikes and dues while being held hostage in "mandatory" meetings which brainwashing against the union is the main purpose of attending.

These meetings are sometimes held prior to our shifts at overtime rates, so workers attend for the cash. Where else can you get 50 bucks to sit for an hour listening to their lies, or not.

The Union cannot hold meetings on company property or pay you to attend, so it is obvious that the company begins with an organizing campaign with an un-fair advantage.

The EFCA would have changed all of this and hopefully will be revived when a Democratic President sits in The White House.

Until then, Pressroom Union supporters would be more than happy to sit down and explain why we felt that this was our last chance at saving our trade and that all L.A. Times employees need to do the same.