We must pass the Employee Free Choice Act

Original source: In today’s New York Times, the editorial board makes a strong, clearly argued and unambiguous case that President-elect Obama needs to strengthen working families by pushing for a quick passage of the Employee Free Choice Act and giving his Labor Secretary-designate, Rep. Hilda Solis, the power she needs to protect workers.

The editorial lays out several challenges ahead for Obama, Solis and the fight to defend workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain. Giving workers the power to improve their own lives and the support they need in the administration must be a top priority if we are to restore an economy that works for everyone.

Here’s what the Times has to say about the Employee Free Choice Act, which Obama and Solis both co-sponsored in Congress:

The measure is vital legislation and should not be postponed. Even modest increases in the share of the unionized labor force push wages upward, because nonunion workplaces must keep up with unionized ones that collectively bargain for increases. By giving employees a bigger say in compensation issues, unions also help to establish corporate norms, the absence of which has contributed to unjustifiable disparities between executive pay and rank-and-file pay.

As The New York Times aptly points out, the corporate argument that giving more workers the freedom to form unions and bargain will hurt a declining economy is exactly backwards. Indeed, as we’ve often noted, the current economic weakness is due to the fact that for far too long, workers have had less and less power to bargain for better wages, benefits and job security.

There is a strong argument that the slack labor market of a recession actually makes unions all the more important. Without a united front, workers will have even less bargaining power in the recession than they had during the growth years of this decade, when they largely failed to get raises even as productivity and profits soared. If paycontinues to lag, it will only prolong the downturn by inhibiting spending.

The editorial also makes a strong case for giving Solis–described as an “unfailing advocate for workers’ rights” and a leader on issues affecting working families–the ability to reverse the Bush administration’s years of short-sighted and anti-worker rulings on workplace safety, overtime and other key issues.

AFL-CIO Blog