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.

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