Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Workplace Rights Bill?

Earlier, I was skewered by a commenter in this post when I tossed off an snide remark about journalism as re-writing press releases. Here’s an example, light on reporting, but heavy on typing:

The BJ Headline: “Council Backs U.S. Workplace Rights Bill”. Summit County Council endorses an end to secret balloting for union representation.

But you wouldn’t know that from the article, which could easily have been written by John Sweeny himself:

“The Democratic president of Summit County Council was among the 10 council members to vote to encourage the U.S. Senate to support the bipartisan Employee Free Choice Act.

`It's the single most important piece of legislation to help working families,’ said John Wagner, executive secretary-treasurer of the Tri-County Regional Labor Council, AFL-CIO. `CEOs are showered with generous pay packages while the working families are struggling to make ends meet.’

John Sweeney, president of the national AFL-CIO, has said that passage of the Employee Free Choice Act was his first priority now that the working class helped sweep Democrats into power in Congress.

The legislation, passed 241-185 in the U.S. House by nearly a party-line vote and introduced last month into the Senate, would make it harder for employers to thwart employee efforts to form unions to bargain for better wages and benefits, according to proponents.

It would let employees choose between ballot elections or majority sign-ups to determine whether they want a union. Currently, some employers intimidate or threaten employees after they sign up for an election but before they vote, quashing
their support, proponents maintain.

The legislation also would penalize employers who interfere with organizing efforts and would bring in an arbiter if the union doesn't get a first contract within 120 days.”

Interesting that the supposedly “bipartisan” act was only passed with what even the Beacon describes as a “nearly party line vote”.

Funny, no mention about losing the right to a secret ballot. That’s certainly an expansion of “workplace rights”. Once you euphemize it to “majority sign up”, selling your birthright for a mess of union pottage doesn’t sound so bad, now does it?

Even to raise the question is to call attention to the fact that the “Employee Free Choice Act” is all about eliminating employee choice.