Employees want to change unionization rules

March 9, 2009 8:30:15 PM PDT
In Washington D.C. there are reports tonight that Democrats in both houses are preparing to introduce a union organizing bill. In San Francisco today, there was a rally in support of the legislation.

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The legislation is the Employees Free Choice act. It is the darling of organized labor and the bane of the business community.

About 100 supporters of the act marched in front of the San Francisco federal building Monday afternoon.

The measure, which is due to be introduced into congress as early as tomorrow, would effectively do away with secret ballot elections as a means of organizing unions. Employees would instead opt for a much faster "card check." if a majority of employees signed cards saying they wanted to join a union, the employer would be obligated to recognize the union and begin negotiations.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is producing television ads attacking the idea of doing away with secret ballot elections.

But people at today's rally told stories of how they were coerced, intimidated and sometimes fired from their jobs during the 30 to 60 day waiting period before those secret ballot elections.

"They said a lot of things that just weren't true, that voting in the union would bring a wage freeze," Sara Steffens said.

The supporters of the Free Choice Act say the playing field is slanted too much in favor of employers.

"They're right that there is a basic problem, there has been for a number of years," former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board Bill Gould said. The board is the part of the government that is supposed to oversee the secret ballot elections.

You can watch more of Bill Gould's interview here.

"What's typically happening is that the employers, once they get wind of a union organizing campaign, will kind of bring out the artillery and in a one-sided way subject the employees to frequently incessant propaganda," Gould said.

Gould says he can understand why union organizers are pushing for the card check method, but he does not agree with it.

Nancy Pelosi today said the bill will be introduced in the Senate first. A spokesman for Sen. Feinstein says she has supported the act in the past but is concerned about its impact on the current economy.

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