Friday, May 29, 2009

Scholarship Deadline Tomorrow

The deadline to apply for the Union Leaders of the Future Scholarship is fast approaching. Applications for the program, which aims to help more women and people of color become union leaders, must be received by May 30.

The scholarship provides annual awards of up to $3,000 to help future union leaders with the cost of continuing their education in order to pursue their union career goals and leadership skills.

Scholarships can be used for tuition, books and travel for leadership training at accredited labor schools, colleges, universities and community colleges. Many students have used the program to attend the National Labor College.

In addition, scholarship winners will be matched with current union leaders to participate in a special mentoring program.

By affording opportunities for women and people of color to continue their education, the scholarship program is helping build a skilled, diverse leadership for the union movement to continue to reach out and provide benefits to more workers.

So far, the Union Leaders of the Future Scholarship Program has awarded $74,000 to 28 winners. Last year’s winners included AFSCME members Hector Alikhan from Local 3325 and Diana MacQuarrie from Local 2719.

All applications must be postmarked by May 30, 2009. Scholarship winners will be contacted by July 7, 2009.

Buy American and Save Superior Industries

Superior Industries has been laying off workers in Northwest Arkansas, because the domestic automobile industry is in a slump. Think about that when you consider buying a foreign car.

So, the world isn’t flat after all. Not that some of us ever bought into Thomas Friedman-speak. But many in this country did, especially those running the political show, and now we have a chance to shape a progressive future on the ashes of such failed visions.

And that progressive future needs a widespread recognition of the acceptance of the need to Buy America. A good first step is taking the American Auto Revivial Pledge.

One of the hardest connections for those of us in the union movement to make with our progressive allies has been in the area of trade and policies that encourage U.S. consumers to Buy American Made. Especially Buy America.

Why is that so?

Calls to buy American-made products are not throwbacks to 19th century U.S. xenophobia. Nor are they red flags for launching trade wars. The fact is, European nations have significant legal trade barriors that are called everything but what they are, protectionist. And far from isolationists, U.S. unions work closely with our union brothers and sisters around the world, championing the rights of workers wherever they are abused.

In fact, those who most stridently oppose Buy America are the very self-styled cheerleaders of the ol’ red, white and blue: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable, opponents of all things progressive.

Many kudos to social activist Danny Glover who last week joined an 11-state, 34-city “Keep It Made in America” bus tour sponsored in part by the United Steelworkers (USW). Glover told the crowd that saving the auto industry is good for the country because it saves good jobs. And it’s important to help more workers join unions so they, too, can have benefits and decent wages.

What About Middle Class Working Families, Blanche?

The following is from the Arkansas Times blog today. Shame on Senator Lincoln.

The 'death tax' scam

The latest Rolling Stone has a fine article (sorry, only a portion is on-line) by Michael Crowley about the effort by the country's richest families to roll back or eliminate the estate tax -- a windfall in the billions if successful.

You know where I'm going. Yes, of course, Sen. Blanche Lincoln comes in for a dose of shaming in the reporting for her work for super-rich who stand to gain the most. (A $30 billion windfall for the Waltons. Lesser but substantial amounts for Stephenses, Anthonys, Dillardses, Hunts, Tysons, etc.)

On April 1st, Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, a state with the nation's third-lowest median income, sponsored a budget amendment that would sharply reduce taxes on the estates of multimillionaires after they die. Estates worth up to $7 million per couple, and $3.5 million for individuals, are already exempt from taxes — meaning that 99.75 percent of all Americans die without paying a dime to Uncle Sam. But Lincoln's proposal would raise the exemption to $10 million — and slash the tax rate on even larger estates from 45 percent to 35 percent. All told, the move would let the children of Wall Street barons, dot-com millionaires and wealthy industrialists pocket more than $90 billion in tax revenues over the next decade.

Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, was furious at Lincoln's move, calling it "so stunning, so outrageous that some would choose this hour of national crisis to push for an amendment to slash the estate tax for the superwealthy." Yet the tax cut passed with 51 votes — including 10 Democrats.

A few weeks later, during negotiations to reconcile the Senate's budget with the one passed by the House, the tax cut was undone. But the battle over the "death tax," as Republicans have shrewdly labeled it, is just beginning — and it involves one of the best-funded and most effective lobbying operations that Washington has ever seen.

Report Bolsters Case for Majority Sign-Up, Exposes Corporate Lies

A new report by four leading universities provides more definitive proof that majority sign up does not cause union or employer intimidation.

In fact, the findings indicate that a lack of intimidation by either side – as well as a clear path to forming a union -- allows workplaces to function more smoothly with no friction.

Data from 34,000 people who joined unions through majority sign-up over a six-year period showed no trace of intimidation by unions or employers, the report from labor studies departments at Rutgers, Cornell, the University of Illinois and the University of Oregon found.

Researchers looked at public sector organizing, which is often done by majority sign-up, from 2003 to the present. "Contrary to business claims, in 1,073 cases of union certification and in at least 1,359 majority-authorization campaigns, there was not a single confirmed incidence of union misconduct," they said.

The findings shatter the claims of Employee Free Choice Act opponents who charge that majority sign-up would cause unions to intimidate workers to get them to join.

This week, workers at two companies joined the Communications Workers of America through majority sign-up. In Arlington, Wash., workers at Roads West Inc., a telecom company, won union recognition with Local 7803 with 100 percent support for CWA representation. In Lebanon Communications in Lebanon, Ohio, technicians won representation with Local 4400 also through majority signup.

The study is available from the AFL-CIO at

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Call Senator Blanche Lincoln Today

We’ve asked a lot from you over the past few months. From writing letters and calling your representative and senators, to giving money, attending events and more, your role in the fight for the Employee Free Choice Act has been crucial.

Today we need you to take action again.

As an Arkansan, you have a special role in the fight for all of America’s workers. One of your senators, Blanche Lincoln, holds a key vote, and she is waffling in her support for America’s workers. We are counting on people like you to continually remind her how important the Employee Free Choice Act is for all of us.

If you’ve already called her office, we need you to do it again. If you haven’t called yet, now is the time.

Sen. Lincoln's district office numbers:

Little Rock: 501-375-2993
Dumas: 870-382-1023
Jonesboro: 870-910-6896
Fayetteville: 479-251-1224
Texarkana: 870-774-3106

Calling a senator's office may make you a bit nervous. But trust us, Senate offices are used to getting calls, and staffers are gracious and respectful to constituents who call.

Here are a few quick talking points to help you when you make the call:

  • Sen. Lincoln, I want you to support the Employee Free Choice Act.
  • We need to fix our broken system and give workers a free choice to bargain with their employers to restore our middle class and build an economy that works for everyone.
  • The three fundamental principles that underlie our support of the Employee Free Choice Act are:
    • Workers must have a real choice to form a union and bargain for a better life, free from employer intimidation.
    • Companies cannot be allowed to endlessly delay agreement on a first contract and stall out the choice of the majority of their workers.
    • There must be real penalties for violating the law—companies must be held accountable.

In solidarity,

Marc Laitin
AFL-CIO Online Mobilization Coordinator

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

LABOR ACTION, today, 4:30 at Federal Building in Fayetteville

Americas working people are stretched as never before. Wages are dropping, health care costs are rising and pensions are disappearing. Working families need a change; we need an economy that works for everyone. By restoring the right of workers to form and join unions, the Employee Free Choice Act will level the playing field and allow workers to bargain for a better life for their families.

Join us for a vigil in support of the Employee Free Choice Act today at 4:30 PM at the Federal Building in Fayetteville.

Employee Free Choice Act Vigil
Wednesday, May 27th
4:30 PM
Federal Building
South College and East Mountain
Fayetteville, Arkansas

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

AFL-CIO President Sweeney on Judge Sonia Sotomayor

America’s workers applaud the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court. She is a brilliant jurist and in her distinguished career has worked at almost every level of our judicial system - as a prosecutor, litigator, trial court and appellate judge –
and would bring more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice in 100 years.

Judge Sotomayor will also bring to the Supreme Court a direct and personal understanding of the struggles America’s workers endure every day. She grew up in public housing in the Bronx, the daughter of a factory worker, and understands the real world consequences of the
decisions she makes from the bench.

Judge Sotomayor’s record reflects an understanding of the law’s impact on working families and has consistently int 1995, she recognized that the owners had forced the strike by engaging in unlawful conduct, and issued an injunction which reversed the unlawful acts. She has enforced the rights of all workers to be free of all types of discrimination at work, to be paid the correct wages and to receive health benefits to which they are entitled. She has recognized that persecution for union activity can be a basis for granting asylum in this country.

Judge Sotomayor is a bipartisan choice – she was initially appointed to the bench by President George H.W. Bush and has previously been confirmed by the Senate – we urge the Senate to swiftly confirm her to the Supreme Court.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Arkansas Professors Support Workers' Free Choice

To: Senators Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln

Dear Senators Lincoln and Pryor:

The undersigned faculty members work at Arkansas universities and colleges. We are writing to support passage of the proposed Employee Free Choice Act and to ask that you take another look at this legislation, see beyond the objections raised by its opponents, and consider that the proposed bill is but a modest attempt to restore workers' right to choose unionization. Many economists point to declining union membership as being a major culprit behind the increase in income and wealth disparity in the United States and note that countries with higher rates of union membership have higher standards of living.

While the policy of our country as defined by the National Labor Relations Act is to favor free choice for workers and to encourage collective bargaining as a model for labor-management relations, over the past generation more and more employers have developed strategies that effectively block workers from forming unions and winning contracts that bring better pay, benefits, and job security. Moreover, recent policies of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and interpretations from the courts, combined with minimal penalties for violations of workers' rights, have enabled employers to thwart workers who favor unionization with very little risk of punishment.

If we want to attract industries to and also promote good living standards in Arkansas, we need to support workers' rights to decide whether they want a union, and, if they do, there must be guidelines guaranteeing a first contract. The Employee Free Choice Act specifically addresses these two issues in a reasonable manner.

First, if workers wish to unionize, they will have a choice of two methods to gain certification: presenting the NLRB with a majority of signed cards signaling majority support, or requesting that the NLRB hold a secret-ballot election. In either scenario it is the workers who choose, not the employer (who currently may contest the validity of the cards, demand an election, and file procedural objections, all of which delays the process and undermines the workers' choice).

Second, once a union has been certified, the two sides must bargain a first contract within a timely fashion or the government will appoint an independent arbitration board whose members will resolve the dispute and produce a two-year agreement. Under the current system, while both sides are required to "bargain in good faith," there is no mechanism to ensure a first contract, and many employers simply refuse to reach agreement with their unionized workers.

After the NLRA passed in 1935, collective bargaining functioned extremely well in some areas of the country and less well in others. Arkansas and some other states put up extra obstacles to unionization and, as a result, had a lower unionization rate. Perhaps this was a strategy to compete with other states, but it did not produce good living standards for most Arkansans. Declining unionization rates have contributed to declining living standards among working people throughout the country. It is time for those of us in the poorer states and in the better off states to join together to promote more democratic workplaces as a new strategy toward prosperity and better living standards.

We in Arkansas need to move toward an economy with high educational levels and high creativity levels. Freedom of workers and professionals to participate actively in their workplaces, to speak freely, and to join unions will produce a stronger economy and a more democratic state.

Arkansas and the country will benefit if we return to a labor-relations model that respects workers' rights to choose a union and encourages collective bargaining once they have done so. With our current economic crisis, it is now more urgent than ever that we look for ways forward that place well-paid people alongside corporate profits as indicators of economic prosperity. The Employee Free Choice Act will do just that by promoting an orderly path to greater workplace fairness and decent standards. We urge you to support this bill in its current form, and we look forward to its enactment in the near future.

List of Arkansas Academics Who have Signed this Petition.

Senate Resolution Demands Public Health Insurance Option

A new U.S. Senate resolution demands that a public health insurance option be included in health care reform legislation now being developed behind closed doors in the Senate Finance Committee.

A public insurance plan option for workers and families who either have private insurance coverage or no coverage at all is one of the AFL-CIO’s key health care reform principles. It has been vigorously attacked by the private insurance industry and most congressional Republicans.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), along with 27 co-sponsors, introduced the resolution yesterday. The resolution says such a plan would allow those Americans who have become unemployed, live in rural and other traditionally underserved areas, or have been unable to attain affordable health insurance would benefit from consumer choice.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mid-South Union Leadership Institute

Mid-South Union Leadership Institute

June 11-13, 2009

Clarion Resort on the Lake, Hot Springs, AR
4813 Central Ave
Hot Springs, AR 71913
(501) 525-1391

Sponsored by the Arkansas AFL-CIO, Mississippi AFL-CIO, Oklahoma AFL-CIO, Tennessee AFL-CIO,
and Texas AFL-CIO

Who Should Attend?
Union officers and representatives with leadership responsibilities.

Major Workshops (Choose Track A or B)

Track A: Effective Local Union Administration

Track B: Union Building

Roles of Officers and Executive Board Members

Using Power to Lead the Local

Conducting Effective Local and Committee Meetings

Setting and Achieving Goals

Legal Responsibilities under the Labor –Management Reporting and Disclosure Act

Growing and Mobilizing the Membership

Conducting Local Union Elections

Dealing with Conflict in the Local

Parliamentary Procedure

Special Topic Workshops (Choose One)

1) Communicating in the YouTube Age
Learn how to use online social networks, video hosting services and microblogging/texting sites to communicate your union's message.

2) Opportunities for Unions in a New Green Economy
Explore efforts and alliances to fund and create good, green-collar jobs.

General Sessions

  1. Legislative Update
  2. Understanding the Current Economic Crisis and Labor’s Response
  3. Labor History through Music and Film: Woody Guthrie to the Dropkick Murphys

AFL-CIO State Caucuses
Mock Meeting to showcase skills and information learned during the conference.

Seminar Hours

Thursday, June 11, 2009
Seminar Check In
8:00 a.m. – 8:45 a.m.
Sessions and workshops
8:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Friday, June 12, 2009
Sessions and workshops
8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, June 13, 2009
Sessions and workshops
8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Graduation Luncheon
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Registration Fees and Options

Please register early!
By May 21 - Early Bird $200
By May 28 - Regular $225
If registering after May 28, call LEP at 501-569-8483 to confirm your registration.

Go to: to download brochure.

For online registration go to:

A minimum number of registrations are required for this seminar.

Sleeping Rooms

Please call the Clarion Resort on the Lake at (501) 525-1391 to make your sleeping room reservations.
A block of rooms has been reserved until May 11 at the rate of $98, single or double. Please mention the UALR Labor Education Program to receive this rate.

Questions?? For more information contact the Labor Education Program at 501-569-8483, fax at 501-569-8538 or email

Harkin: Compromise On EFCA Or Else

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), the chief sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, has a warning for Democratic foes of his flagship legislation: Work with me in earnest on a compromise, or I'll put the bill on the Senate floor and you can vote your conscience.

That may not sound like a grave threat, but it may well be. Two of the bills main skeptics--Sens. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)--face re-election next year, and both, for different reasons, may ultimately need union support to prevail. Specter, who tacked to the right and came out against EFCA before becoming a Democrat, is facing pressure from the Democratic base and Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) to move left or face a primary challenge.

And at least one high level union official has suggested that if Lincoln doesn't come around and support an EFCA compromise, she may face a green party challenger, in addition to a Republican challenger, in the general election.

Specter, who's been feeling the heat, has said that he thinks the prospects for compromise are likely, while Lincoln still says she opposes EFCA's so-called "binding arbitration" section--one of the bill's less-controversial measures.

By Brian Beutler - May 20, 2009

Workers Face Increasing Abuse in Attempts to Form Unions

Today on Capitol Hill, labor law experts and a California worker exposed the ugly truth about corporate abuses of workers trying to exercise their freedom to form unions and bargain for a better life.

At the center of the discussion: Kate Bronfenbrenner’s new report, “No Holds Barred: The Intensification of Employer Opposition to Organizing,” released by the Economic Policy Institute EPI) and the American Rights at Work Education Fund. The report shows that the problems the Employee Free Choice Act would address are getting worse.

Bronfenbrenner has studied these issues for decades as the director of labor education research at Cornell University’s School of Industrial Relations. This is her fourth survey over 20 years, enabling her to put into historical perspective the obstacles workers face today.

At the Capitol Hill briefing, Bronfenbrenner said weak laws and a hostile environment have emboldened corporations, over the past decade, to step up their abuses against workers trying to form unions.

The research provides a detailed portrait of a system that has failed private-sector workers. Workers have come to understand what our data confirms: Employers are using an arsenal of legal and illegal tactic to interfere with workers trying to organize, and they are doing it with impunity.

Monday, May 11, 2009

This I Believe

Can the middle class survive and achieve the American Dream? The truth is, we can't fix our economy without fixing the health care system, and we can't grow our economy if we don't grow the middle class.

That's why the Northwest Arkansas Labor Council supports health care reform that will bring costs down and guarantee quality, affordable care for everyone. And that's why we support the Employee Free Choice Act.

Americans want an economy that works for everyone, not just bailout bonus CEOs and right wing talk show blowhards. The Employee Free Choice Act will help rebuild the middle class and jumpstart our economy by giving every worker a chance to bargain for decent wages, benefits, and safe working conditions.

Honest businesses know from experience that fair labor standards help achieve higher productivity, less turnover, and a better-trained workforce. They recognize that working people need to have the purchasing power and financial stability to get this economy growing again. America’s workers deserve real labor law reform that will end employer threats, stalling tactics, intimidation and illegal firings of workers who simply want to earn a middle-class lifestyle for themselves and their families.

The corporate lobbyists are promoting The Big Lie that the Employee Free Choice Act would eliminate secret ballots for workers. That simply is not true. It offers workers a choice in forming unions: either hold a secret ballot election or a majority of employees can sign a card joining the union. Opponents really don’t care about the truth. They’re spending $200 million to spread the lie that the bill eliminates secret ballots and make false charges of union intimidation.

Majority card sign up does not cause union intimidation, according to a new study by University of Illinois Professor Robert Bruno . Bruno analyzed Illinois data from 2003-2009 and found that “21,197 public sector workers employed in state, county, municipal and educational institutions voluntarily joined a union. Most importantly, contrary to business claims, in nearly eight hundred petition cases, there was not a single confirmed incidence of union coercion.”

Since passage the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 during Roosevelt’s New Deal, there have been a total of 113 complaints of misconduct filed against labor unions in organizing efforts during the last 74 years, with only 42 of those found to have merit.

On the other hand, in 2007 alone, the National Labor Relations Board documented 29,559 charges of illegal firings and employer discrimination against workers for exercising their federally protected rights.

The Employee Free Choice Act would fix this broken system and restore the promise of the American Dream for working families. It is a key component of our efforts to rebuild the middle class, promote economic growth, and create an economy that works for all Americans.

Call Senator Blanche Lincoln’s Fayetteville office at 251-1224. Let her know that you support health care reform and the Employee Free Choice Act to help working families share in the American Dream. Ask her to stand up for middle class Arkansans.

In solidarity,

Stephen Smith

Friday, May 8, 2009


The Benton County Democratic Women’s Club is hosting Amy Niehouse from the AFL-CIO at the Bentonville Clarion Hotel & Convention Center on Monday, May 18th. Ms. Niehouse will discuss the proposed Federal legislation known as the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would allow workers to gain union representation if more than half of a group of employees sign union cards.

The proposed legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate but has not yet gained the support of the 60 Senate votes needed to prevent a filibuster.

Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln (D) announced early last month that she “[c]annot support and will not support moving it (EFCA) forward in its current form.1"
Ms. Niehouse will review the proposed legislation and will also discuss the benefits to workers and communities when workers choose to organize a union.

Ms. Niehouse, a Senior Organizer Trainer, is a member of the AFL-CIO’s Organizing Institute. She has been organizing unions as well as teaching workers how to organize for 25 years.

Although the Institute is based in Washington, D.C., Ms. Niehouse travels all over the country to help workers. She has been assigned by the union to the Northwest Arkansas area and is currently helping workers in Little Rock, Fort Smith and Fayetteville

According to the AFL-CIO’s website, the mission of the Organizing Institute is “to help build the labor movement primarily through identifying, training and developing organizers from our membership, staff, community and college campuses across the country. The Organizing Institute is committed to continuously producing organizers who are enthusiastic, energetic and armed with skills to help workers fight to form and join unions.”

Reservations for the 11:15 a.m. lunch buffet can be made by contacting Sharon Carter before Wednesday, May 13 at or by calling at 464-7531. Tickets are $12. Limited seating is available for those not having the buffet.

The Bentonville Clarion Hotel and Convention Center is located at 211 S.E. Walton Blvd.

How Current Labor Law Gives Workers Raw Deal

This animation from the American Worker Project, courtesy of the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF), shows how labor law gives workers a raw deal, taking you step-by-step through the current process for forming a union. It’s not pretty, but it shows why the Corporate Bosses oppose any reasonable reform.

Watch it and weep. Better yet, watch it and tell your Senators and Congress member to support the Employee Free Choice Act.

Statement by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney On April Jobs Report

America’s workers are suffering through the worst job loss in a
generation, while too many politicians continue to stand in the way of
urgently needed government action and reform. Addressing the deeply
rooted problems in our labor market is just as important to ending the
recession as fixing the banking system.

We lost 539,000 jobs in April, bringing the total job loss since the
recession began to over 5.7 million and the unemployment rate to 8.9 %.
While job loss slowed last month, the number of people unemployed for
a long time has risen, and as a result of George Bush’s disastrous
policies, this is now the longest recession since World War II.

The only two bright spots in the jobs report were small increases in
government jobs and education and health care. It is clear that
sustained and targeted government spending will be crucial to turning
around this dire jobs picture. President Obama's early action in
implementing a substantial economic recovery act and strong budget -
one that included a serious down payment on national health care
reform, investments in needed infrastructure and green jobs and
essential funding for education and workforce development - has been
and will continue to be absolutely critical in the coming months.

These job losses are deep, long lasting and widespread. The number of
long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased by
498,000 to 3.7 million over the month and has risen by 2.4 million
since the start of the recession in December 2007. We need determined
action from the Obama Administration, Congress and the Federal Reserve
in response. We need to get our economy back on track, create good
paying jobs
, and restore balance to the fundamental building blocks of
our economy. We must make sure to focus on the real economy, not just
the financial economy.

The threat of home loss is also central to this crisis and the
government is likely going to need to do more to address this issue.

We also must make broad-based economic changes to have sustained
economic growth and an economy that works for everyone. We must deal
with our country’s unsustainable trade deficit. We must reform our
financial regulatory system to provide more transparency and government
oversight and regulation. And we must pass the Employee Free Choice
so workers can win the freedom to form unions and bargain
collectively with their employers for fair wages, security and

To help America’s unemployed, the AFL-CIO and Working America have
created the largest online resource for workers at

Monday, May 4, 2009

University of Illinois Study Finds No Cases of Union Intimidation from Majority Sign Up

Majority sign up does not cause union or employer intimidation, according to a new report released by University of Illinois Professor Robert Bruno . Bruno analyzed data from public sector workers in Illinois for six years and found that out of more than 21,000 people who joined unions through majority sign up, a process sometimes referred to as “card check,” there was not a single proven case of union or employer intimidation.

The report states:

In brief, from 2003-2009, 21,197 public sector workers employed in state, county, municipal and educational institutions voluntarily joined a union. Most importantly, contrary to business claims, in nearly eight hundred petition cases, there was not a single confirmed incidence of union coercion.

The report comes as Congress considers the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation that will give workers back the freedom to bargain with corporations for better wages and benefits. It includes a majority sign up provision which gives workers the choice of how to form a union rather than leaving that choice in employer’s hands, as it is under current law. Opponents claim this will lead to intimidation and coercion from unions, but according to today’s report, that simply isn’t true.

“Today’s report shows that corporations are throwing more lies to keep workers from forming unions,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. “Workers form unions to bargain for a better life, not because of outside intimidation. Workers need the majority sign up provision because it gives workers the choice of how to form a union, not corporations.”

According to the findings, the lack of intimidation on either side also shows that when there is a clear path to forming a union, the workplace as a whole functions more smoothly with no friction.

The report concludes:

As is true in so many other policy areas, on the subject of union representation the states are incubators for new ideas and practices. Illinois has demonstrated that a majority authorization petition can genuinely determine the will of the employees to be unionized and provides a functional, largely non-adversarial and event-less process for insuring a fair work environment for everyone.

According to Bruno, the Illinois state law is very similar to the proposed Employee Free Choice Act majority sign up provision. The report, commissioned by the United Association for Labor Education is the first part of a nationwide report which analyzes similar state laws.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Free Online Courses from National Labor College

The National Labor College has launched a new, cutting-edge union education tool called the Open Learning Course (OLC) program. The OLC is offered free and is a self-directed, web-based learning activity that offers opportunities for union members, leaders, activists and staff to study new topics and improve their understanding of the labor movement. Courses usually take about an hour and provide informative overviews of topics important to unionists. Take an OLC course on collective bargaining, Taft-Hartley funds, labor and the arts or another subject of interest to you. Find out more on the NLC OLC webpage. The course listing will be updated periodically, so keep checking back.

Celebrate International Workers Day

May Day was founded in the United States as a result of the great struggle and sacrifice of life that resulted from the general strike of 1886 and the movement for the eight hour work day. Globally, on May 1st of each year, workers in massive celebrations all around the world pay tribute to their labors and honor the struggle for better conditions. Workers in the United States have been denied their history and their common bond with workers in other countries. Join us in our commitment to educate and inform our fellow workers and all Americans about the origins of May Day, so that we may reclaim our proud heritage.