Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bush to veto bills over labor provisions

Today, the House passed the Employee Free Choice Act. The legislation would certify a union as soon as a majority of workers at a plant sign cards authorizing it. Currently, employers can require elections, overseen by the National Labor Relations Board, on whether a union should be recognized. That often can be a time-consuming process and have become a means for employers to intimidate workers into rejecting unions. The legislation also toughens penalties against employers who violate worker rights during organizing drives and sets up a binding arbitration process to prevent companies from thwarting a new union by bargaining in bad faith on an initial contract.

Labor organizations often cite employer coercion as a major factor in the steadily falling percentage of American workers who are organized. Union membership has dropped from 20 percent of wage and salary workers in 1983 to 12 percent in 2006. Discounting civil servants, that percentage is 7.4 percent, the Labor Department says. The labor rights group American Rights at Work said 80 percent of employers hire union-busting consultants and 90 percent force employees to attend one-on-one anti-union meetings with their supervisors. Opinion polls often shown a strong majority of American workers say they would be likely to join a union if they could.

However, the White House has promised a veto and Senate Republicans are promising a fillibuster of any similar bill put forth in the Senate.

More shockingly, the White House is threatening to veto the bill that would implement more of the security recommendations of the 9/11 commission simply because the bill would extend union protection to 45,000 airport workers. Even frequenty-ally Joe Lieberman has come out against the veto threat. Perhaps it's not so surprising since the law that created the Homeland Security Department stripped out labor protections for many workers (this allowed Republicans to run negative ads against Senator Max Cleland in 2002 when he voted against it, perhaps we can do the same to these Republicans in 2008?).

So there you have it, Bush and Republicans in Congress are so anti-worker and pro-business that they would even forsake the national security concerns they have used to their advantage so much over the years - just so they can stop Democrats from making it a little easier to join a union!

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