[On June 21] the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a proposed rule that would restore a measure of fairness to the union election process. As it stands, most workers who want to form a union will never get the chance. The current rules allow employers to drag out the process for months - in some cases years - while they wage a campaign in the workplace to mislead and intimidate their employees.Paid mouthpieces for big business - including Republican members of Congress - are lamenting this new proposed labor-friendly rule. It's par for the course, but should serve as a reminder that the right to organize for working Americans is hard earned and is constantly under attack by the right wing and an entire political party (the Republican party) looking to increase the profit lines of big businesses at the expense of workers.
For decades, the federal government has allowed big corporations to litigate workers' efforts to death when they are trying to form a union and get a leg up in supporting their families. Irresponsible companies typically delay the vote and often retaliate against employees who want to form union. During organizing campaigns, more than one-third of employers fire pro-union workers. [...]
This proposed rule change announced today presents a level playing field. When working people choose to exercise their legal right to form a union, they should be able to do so without the fierce intimidation, bullying and threats from cash-cow-corporations.
Even today, the stories of blatant assault on the rights of working people to organize abound. While Wal Mart closes stores whose employees want to organize for a unified voice at the bargaining table, the most multinational-friendly Supreme Court in generations is busy reducing the options of workers who have been wronged to have legal recourse. The assault on the rights of workers is unprecedented, and make no mistake about it: if there is one entity left standing in DC that is still looking out for the interests and rights of working Americans, it is the Obama administration.
The NLRB's news release has a summary of the new proposed rules (note how the rules are almost all geared towards streamlining the process of labor elections and preventing litigation and delays that big business likes to cause):
If finally adopted after a public notice-and-comment process, the proposed amendments would:A fuller description and greater detail of the new proposed rules and what changes from the current status of union electionis procedures is available in a separate release from the NLRB. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said of the proposes rule:
- Allow for electronic filing of election petitions and other documents.
- Ensure that employees, employers and unions receive and exchange timely information they need to understand and participate in the representation case process.
- Standardize timeframes for parties to resolve or litigate issues before and after elections.
- Require parties to identify issues and describe evidence soon after an election petition is filed to facilitate resolution and eliminate unnecessary litigation.
- Defer litigation of most voter eligibility issues until after the election.
- Require employers to provide a final voter list in electronic form soon after the scheduling of an election, including voters’ telephone numbers and email addresses when available.
- Consolidate all election-related appeals to the Board into a single post-election appeals process and thereby eliminate delay in holding elections currently attributable to the possibility of pre-election appeals.
- Make Board review of post-election decisions discretionary rather than mandatory.
The proposed rule does not address many of the fundamental problems with our labor laws, but it will help bring critically needed fairness and balance to this part of the process.Given that the NLRB is a regulatory body and not a legislative one, it's a given that the fundamental problems with our labor laws remain - things such as "right to work for less," for example. This rule is also not card check, but as Trumka points out, as well as other labor leaders and organizations, this rule is about fairness, balance and leveling the playing field when it comes to working people. At the core, the NLRB and President Obama are looking out for the interest of the American worker.
These proposed rules, important as they are in and of themselves, do not stand in a vacuum. These are the latest in the actions of an Administration that has proven itself a friend of the American worker from Day One - whether you are talking about cracking down on Boeing for its anti-union behavior, saving the jobs of more than a million auto workers with a good deal for the UAW in the process of rejuvenating the American auto industry, extending unemployment benefits through the tough economic times along with paying for COBRA, passing health reform that gives small business a 35% tax credit to keep or get health insurance for their employees, negotiating trade deals to increase American exports or keeping alive the jobs of teachers, police officers and firefighters - mostly union members - through state aid packages.
Political pundits and bloggers tend to be fond of telling a narrative. Well, there is a narrative here too, supported by good, hard facts. And that is that President Obama and his administration works hard every single day for American workers. Maybe it's not a narrative that either the corporate media or the self-indulgent purists on the Professional Left want you to hear, but it is the truth.
CRUCIAL ACTION ITEM: SUPPORT THIS RULE
What is needed right now on the part of us activists? Now that the rules are published, it has opened up a public comments period for 60 days. Here are the ways you can submit your comments in support of this proposal, thank the NLRB, and urge them to stand firm in the face of the barrage of corporate lobbying attacks and Right wing opposition they are no doubt facing.
- Online: Go to the Regulations.gov page for this proposed rule and click on the "Submit a Comment" button.
- Mail or hand delivery to: Lester Heltzer, Executive Secretary, NLRB, 1099 14th Street NW, Washington DC 20570.
- Sign the SEIU petition telling the NLRB that you stand behind working people of this country.