Labor activists are hoping that the Democratic congress and the Obama administration will join forces to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would make it easier for workers to join unions. And it’s never been more important than in the face of our current economic recession.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, if 5 million service workers join unions, $34 billion in total new wages would flow into the economy. These 5 million workers would get, on average, a 22 percent raise, an effective stimulus for our suffering economy.
It is because of benefits like these that so many Americans prefer unionizing. According to a recent poll, 60 million U.S. workers said they would join a union if they could. But oftentimes they are discouraged by their employers.
Studies have shown that about 25 percent of companies illegally fire employees for trying to form unions. The Employee Free Choice Act proposes stiff penalties for any company that tries to harass, intimidate or fire workers because of their efforts to join a union.
Big corporations have strongly opposed the motion and have made significant lobbying attempts to steer Obama away from passing the bill. On the campaign trail, Obama pledged to support the bill several times.
But is it likely to pass with the new Obama administration? It might not be as simple as you might think.
The Washington Post reported that Obama “favored the legislation, [but] said there may be other ways to achieve the same goal without angering businesses. And while many Democrats on Capitol Hill are eager to see a quick vote on that bill, he indicated no desire to rush into the contentious issue.”
Too often we have seen workers harassed or threatened when they try to organize. Make sure that these companies are held responsible and that workers rights to organize remain secure. Make sure that Obama does not keep the interests of large corporations ahead of workers rights. Sign a petition to urge Obama to support the Employee Free Choice Act.