Many working people are used to some kind of back pain, usually as a result of physical job conditions or work related stress. But the injury workers are feeling now is a wound inflicted by the “friends of labor” in the Democratic Party.
The pro-union Democrats are stabbing workers in the back once again, and they are using the same knife to dismember the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). The Obama Administration and other Democrats, despite having control of both the Senate and House of Representatives, are backpedaling on their promise to pass this piece or pro-worker legislation.
Shortly after Obamas inauguration, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that “if we’re losing half a million jobs a month, then there are no jobs to unionize.” More recently, some Senate Democrats have backed off the “card check” provision in EFCA, favoring a weakened version of the bill instead.
In the 2008 election, organized labor mobilized their membership to vote for Barack Obama and spent an estimated $400 million for the Democrats. EFCA was the carrot dangled in front of the workers to get them to the polls.
Now it seems that workers’ hopes for better pay, improved conditions, and a voice on the job are being beaten down by corporate politicians whose loyalties are with the millionaires instead of the millions of working people.
What Is EFCA?
If passed, EFCA would make it easier to unionize by requiring employers to immediately recognize a union when a majority of workers sign authorization cards. Anti-EFCA forces say this will take away workers’ right to a “secret ballot” election.
Opponents of EFCA cry crocodile tears over this alleged loss of their employees’ workplace “democracy” but fail to mention that if a worker doesn’t have a union then they never get to vote on anything at work.
Under current law, when 30% of workers sign union cards an election is held by the National Labor Relations Board. One problem organizers face is that employers use the weeks or months before the election to intimidate and coerce union supporters. Workers are frequently forced into propaganda sessions, bosses threaten to shut down or move away, and union supporters are illegally fired.
EFCA also would strengthen penalties for companies that punish workers trying to unionize their workplace. Another key provision would impose binding arbitration if a contract is not agreed to within 90 days.
Binding arbitration, while supported by business-unionist bureaucrats, is a serious flaw in EFCA because it takes negotiating power away from workers and places it in the hands of federal mediators who don’t represent our interests.
Time to Break with the Democratic Party!
The watering down and likely slow death of EFCA should serve as a reminder to working people that reforms are not handed down from the top without serious pressure from below. Unions have spent millions of dollars on advertisements and lobbying efforts but have organized very few demonstrations to call for the passage of this legislation.
The gains made by workers in the past were not won by photo-ops in D.C. or golf outings with management. They were direct results of militant strike action and powerful social movements in the streets. There is still time for the unions to start organizing mass demonstrations in every major city linking EFCA to demands for single-payer healthcare, relief against foreclosures, and a program of public works to create jobs.
If the unions threatened to run independent workers candidates against any politician opposed to EFCA and the right of working people to join a union and have a decent life, the Democrats would face real pressure to concede EFCA.
Organized labor needs to accept that the Democrats are a party of big business. Countless millions of dollars and decades of support for Democratic politicians have gotten workers nowhere. The unions have the millions of dollars needed to start campaigning for a working-class political alternative, a mass workers’ party, against the dictatorship of big business.