2007-12-21 / Community

Addabbo,Quinn Support Employee Free Choice Act

In recognition of International Human Rights Day, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Civil Service and Labor Committee Chair Joseph P. Addabbo announced the introduction of a resolution in support of the Employee Free Choice Act. This Federal legislation, sponsored in the U.S. Congress by Rep. George Miller and Sen. Edward Kennedy, seeks to establish an independent process free from outside interference for workers to consider whether or not to form a union on the job.

"America's workers have the inalienable right to choose, without harassment or intimidation, whether to join a union," said Speaker Quinn. "That's the very foundation of the American Dream. But sadly, employer interference in union elections has escalated in recent years, and in 50 percent of successful union organizing campaigns, a contract is never negotiated. EFCA would establish an independent process to ensure workers can freely make that choice, and if they choose a union, will create a clear path toward a good-faith contract."

The Employee Free Choice Act, supported by a bipartisan coalition in Congress, would level the playing field for workers and employers and help rebuild America's middle class. It would restore workers' freedom to choose a union by:

• Establishing stronger penalties for violation

of employee rights when workers seek

to form a union and during negotiations for

first contracts. • Providing mediation and arbitration for

disputes involving first contracts. • Allowing employees to form unions by signing

cards authorizing union representation.

"Since 1935, workers have been guaranteed the freedom to form unions," said Councilmember Addabbo. "Unfortunately, the evidence shows that some employers across the country are still interfering with worker attempts to unionize. Labor has always been the backbone of America, and the Employee Free Choice Act will help ensure that it remains strong in the 21st century."

"The Employee Free Choice Act is the most important piece of legislation in the last 70 years," said Ed Ott, executive director of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFLCIO. "Unfairly, The National Labor Relations Act has been used as a weapon against workers' right to organize. We know that 60 percent of workers would join a union if they had the chance and the choice. EFCA will take down those barriers and provide a real free choice for America's workers."

Surveys indicate that 77 percent of the public believes it is important to have strong laws protecting the freedom of workers to make their own decision about having a union, and 60 percent of workers would join a union if they had the chance.

Employers often refuse to bargain fairly after workers form a union, by dragging out initial contract negotiations for up to two years in 45 percent of successful campaigns.

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