Friday, January 9, 2009

Workers Win

The Employee Free Choice Act (pdf of legislation)

From Wikipedia:
Pursuant to the bill, a union can demand that an employer begin bargaining within ten days of certification of the union as the exclusive bargaining representative for an appropriate unit of employees via the card check.[1] In addition, if the union and employer cannot agree upon the terms of a first collective bargaining contract within ninety days, either party can request federal mediation, which could lead to binding arbitration if an agreement still cannot be reached after thirty days of mediation.[1] Where government arbitration determines terms of the agreement, employees would lose their current right to ratify the terms of the agreement.[1] Finally, the Act would provide for liquidated damages of three times back pay if employers were found to have unlawfully terminated pro-union employees.[2] The EFCA also would impose a $20,000 penalty upon employers for each employer violation of the proposed legislation if the NLRB and/or a court deems the violation willful or repetitive.[1][3]
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When employers use the union election process to intimidate, the workers always lose.

From Media Matters: (all emphasis mine)

An August 2000 report by Human Rights Watch similarly found that "[m]any employers have come to view remedies like back pay for workers fired because of union activity as a routine cost of doing business, well worth it to get rid of organizing leaders and derail workers' organizing efforts. As a result, a culture of near-impunity has taken shape in much of U.S. labor law and practice."

Additionally, Cornell University researcher Kate Bronfenbrenner found in a 2000 study of union organizing campaigns that "more than half of all employers made threats to close all or part of the plant during the organizing drive." Bronfenbrenner continued:

More than three quarters of the campaigns where threats occurred also involved aggressive legal and illegal employer behavior such as discharges for union activity, electronic surveillance, illegal unilateral changes in wages or benefits, bribes, threats to refer undocumented workers to INS, promises of improvement, and promotion of union activists out of the unit.

Bronfenbrenner also found that "one in every four employers in our sample discharged workers for union activity."

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When this legislation passes, the ghosts of the workers and their families burned alive during the Ludlow massacre will finally find peace.

As for the former mine guards-turned-National-Guardsmen, well, maybe not so much.

There's a couple of great books about Ludlow, I recommend them both:

Killing For Coal
Thomas G. Andrews
Assistant Professor of History, University of Colorado Denver.

and

Blood Passion
by Scott Martelle

and a great website:

Colorado Coal Field War Project

One of the most-staunchly-held tenets of the CFI mine owners and operators was that they would not even recognize a union spokesman.

That's why this legislation sticks in the craw of the wingnut right - finally, after nearly a hundred years, we the people declare that their actions were illegal and that Ludlow was a mass murder and a crime of monstrous proportions - that should never be allowed to happen again.

You want 'Clean Coal'? - then the first thing to do is scrub the blood off the hands of Colorado's coal mining companies.

This is a good start.

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