Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), now chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, spoke to the AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh today via a video message recorded last week. In bucking up the labor activists about the Employee Free Choice Act, he adopted their broad and hostile lines of attack against the employer community.
Full audio here. Excerpts:
So my brothers and sisters, when 60 percent of workers want to join a union, but only 7 percent are in one, something is badly broken. It’s time to restore one of our most basic rights as Americans – the right to form a union without harassment, obstruction or intimidation. And to that end, I’m proud to lead the fight to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.
For years, the most brazen union-busting tactics have been tolerated or punished with a slap on the wrist. Even when employees succeed in forming a union, half the time employers simply refuse to negotiate a first contract in good faith.
Well, I got a question. Why should people have to crawl across broken glass and go through some kind of boot-camp hell in order to join a perfectly legal organization?
So here’s the bottom line. I’m workin’ hard, I’m meeting with senators who have reservations on the bill, I’ve been working very closely with John Sweeney and others crafting bill to get EFCA through this year. Now, any final legislation will be true to three core principles: One, giving workers real freedom to choose a union; secondly, ensuring workers who organize will definitely get a first contract; and providing meaningful penalties for repeated violations of workers rights.
He concluded, “So I would just close with this: Can we pass the Employee Free Choice Act? Well, with your help and hard work, I’ve got a third-word answer to that question: Yes we can.”
The reality is that the Employee Free Choice Act would force employees into unions against their wills, and the law would let government-appointed arbitrators impose terms of a contract on employees and employers alike.
It’s just a naked power grab by labor unions who cannot win the arguments on the merits. The word “brazen” comes to mind.
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