Free Choice for Our Workers

The Bush administration’s rollback of workers’ rights exacerbates rising health care costs, declining benefits, and growing personal debt.

Workers rights’ have suffered continual blowsover the past six years. Current labor law is outdated and unable to meet the needs of workers squeezed by rising healthcare costs, de-funded pensions, and growing personal debt, not to mention unemployment.

The Employee Free Choice Act under consideration in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee tomorrow could bring us one step closer to more fairly balance government regulation with corporate, government, and labor interests. The Act, which passed the House by a margin of 241 to 185 earlier this month, seeks to give workers the opportunity to form unions by signing cards or petitions, impose stronger penalties on employers who violate labor laws, and prevent employers from dragging out contract negotiations.

This legislation closely mirrors one of the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s key policy recommendations outlined in its 100 Days Agenda. The Agenda proposes that we can significantly strengthen workers’ rights by requiring employers to bargain with unions who have who have demonstrated majority support on the basis of “card-check recognition.” The Action Fund argues that allowing employees to sign union recognition cards in support of union representation will give workers greater freedom from employer interference and intimidation.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeny says of the bill, “A union card is the single best ticket into the middle class and, thanks to the Employee Free Choice Act, working people may finally have the chance to be part of a union. And House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-CA) told Congress Daily:

“This debate isn’t without purpose. There’s an audience of people who are thinking, ‘How do I get to retirement? If I get laid off at 50 years old, how do I get to Medicare?’ There’s a world of difference between those people who are fortunate enough to have a union and those who don’t.”

President Bush’s National Labor Relations board has consistently taken aim at unions, weakening the rights of American workers. Although the Employee Free Choice Act faces a possible filibuster in the Senate, debate over this legislation is a good first step toward restoring rights and advancing the interests of American workers.

Read the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s “100 Days Agenda” to Strengthen Worker Rights:

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