Activism Discussion: Can We Rebuild The Labor Movement With The EFCA?

Can We Rebuild The Labor Movement With The EFCA?
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Dan Clore
2009-02-14 15:39:56 EST
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

http://tinyurl.com/aqbsmb
Can we rebuild the labor movement with the Employee Free Choice Act?
Wednesday, February 11 2009 @ 06:27 AM CST
Anarchist Opinion
By Adam W.
Industrial Worker, January, 2009

Much has been said in the United States labor movement around the
Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a bill many mainstream leaders tout as
the solution to the decline of unions. With the recent election of
Barrack Obama and the Democratic Party holding the majority of seats in
both houses of the US Congress, these same leaders have their hearts set
that their millions of dollars in campaign contributions will pay off
with the passage of the bill.

The meat of the EFCA would amend existing labor law in the US to allow
unions to gain official recognition in a workplace through a majority of
workers signing authorization cards and avoid the perilous and
employer-dominated election route. Once a union is certified, employers
have to begin sitting down with the union within ten days. If no deal is
reached government mediators can force employers to sign a first
contract, even without the vote of workers. The EFCA also would
drastically increase the penalties companies face for violating workers
rights, such as with firing workers for organizing, which happen at
record rates in the US compared to the rest of the industrialized world.
Workers could receive up to three times the back pay owed and companies
could be fined up to $20,000 for willful or repeated violations.

What are members of the IWW to think of this? We are a small but growing
international union with a vision of a completely different world. Not
the vague change promised by both sides in the US presidential
elections, but a world without bosses, where everyday workers are in the
driver’s seat, and where hopes and dreams for a better world can truly
be realized. Will the passage of the EFCA move us closer to our vision
of a new world? There is certainly a great deal of hope in the change
that the EFCA could bring, but I think we need to look more critically
whether substantial change will come even if the EFCA should pass.

Weighing the EFCA

Let’s lead off the discussion on the positives. With the harsh reality
of unemployment, growing debt and long stagnant wages that many workers
throughout the US are currently facing, mainstream news coverage of
Congress merely debating workers rights is enough to make millions
consider the idea of a union at their workplace. This could provide an
opening in the narrow, pro-business discussion that dominates US
politics. Should it happen, members of the IWW would be wise to seize
this opportunity to talk with more workers and expand our organizing
wherever we can.

Further, if the Act should pass in its existing form (as it could easily
be watered down) the increased penalties could provide us with greater
leverage over resistant employers. A prime example would be New York
warehouse employer Handy Fat Trading, which has fired IWW members and
defied several rulings by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Both a national debate around unions and workers right and greater
enforcement of labor laws would help us in the IWW.

Now let’s discuss why I think we should see the EFCA in a critical
light. Many labor leaders promote the bill in language that ranges from
a ‘great step forward’ to a cure-all of sorts, which would usher in a
new era of unionization such as the Congress of Industrial Organizations
(CIO) organizing drives of the Thirties.

I think these views have some serious problems.

First, I’m skeptical that it will pass and not just because Obama has
appointed a centrist cabinet of former Clinton officials. Labor’s
betrayal by Democrats and the game of “wait and see, they’ll deliver”
every time a Democratic president comes to power is a river so deep, you
may as well call it an ocean. Barring significant strikes or actions by
workers that begin to scare business elites into wanting to offer labor
a bone, I don’t see this history changing.

The largest issue with the EFCA, though, is the use of card checks to
gain official union recognition. To join a union, a worker would sign a
membership card. If more than 50 per cent of the workers signed cards,
the employer would have to recognize the union.

While the bill would undeniably make this process easier, I don’t think
this will lead to the huge membership increases we’re led to believe.
Canada, for instance, has similar card check recognition and enforced
arbitration laws yet it has a declining private sector union rate of
about 17 per cent, compared to eight per cent or less in the US. Despite
the laws, Canadian companies have continued to effectively use
union-busting to prevent workers from organizing and to decertify
existing unions at higher rates than new ones can be organized --
exactly the same situation as in the US.

Mainstream labor’s embrace of this aspect of the EFCA is actually the
most troubling in my eyes because it represents the same problem that
has been plaguing mainstream unions since the passage of the National
Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in 1935: trading easier membership gains and
labor peace in exchange for the shop floor militancy that can actually
fight effectively to win against employers. If unions are able to gain
recognition through card check that they wouldn’t have been able to do
through fighting for voluntary recognition, this drastically increases
the likelihood that the large, centrally controlled business unions will
be meeting employers at the table with stacks of authorization cards and
passive bodies of workers, rather than the well organized rank-and-file
committees needed to win. These unions would rely on two year,
government-imposed contracts that workers will not be able to vote down
and which will bar workers from striking.

Overall, much of mainstream labor’s framing of EFCA promotes short cuts
to rebuilding the labor movement, such as relying on government laws,
rather than the hard work of organizing and fighting the bosses that is
needed. This framing is a not entirely subtle analogy drawn between the
EFCA and the mass organizing of industrial unions in the 1930s under the
breakaway CIO that was allowed by the passage of the National Labor
Relations Act in 1935.

But the analogy doesn’t hold water. The worker insurgency of the 1930s
in the US was a mass movement of workers who struck and occupied
factories largely without any leadership by unions and before the
formation of the CIO. The government reacted to this development by
passing the NLRA in 1935, whose purpose was to cool disruptive strikes
through offering workers the legal right to collectively bargain. In the
next several years, the CIO was then able to sweep the insurgents into
its membership as the wave of sit-downs peaked in 1936-37. Over the next
decade, the CIO worked to create its own “labor peace” through signing
no-strike clauses, curbing the ability of workers to deal with
grievances on the shop floor, and channeling workers’ energies into
electoral politics (for more see Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward’s
chapter on the CIO in Poor People’s Movements). This background should
be kept in mind any time we hear arguments that federal laws and union
officials make history and not workers themselves.

So, in what light should labor radicals who want to rebuild the labor
movement and create a new world, see the EFCA? First, we should not hold
our breath or hold back in any of our organizing efforts by waiting for
its passage. Second, should the EFCA pass, we should take every effort
to take advantage of the increased discussion of unions. This may be
difficult in practice as workers may approach us wanting to organize,
but under the false impression that it is suddenly “easier” under the
new check recognition. We need to stick to our guns, though, and
continue our practice of solidarity unionism, even when it involves
strategically using the card check process.

Above all, we should remain critically cautious and skeptical around the
promises of the EFCA and even more skeptical of those in the labor
movement who promote

http://www.iww.org/en/node/4597

--
Dan Clore

My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
http://tinyurl.com/2gcoqt
Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
http://tinyurl.com/292yz9
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

"From the point of view of the defense of our society,
there only exists one danger -- that workers succeed in
speaking to each other about their condition and their
aspirations _without intermediaries_."
--Censor (Gianfranco Sanguinetti), _The Real Report on
the Last Chance to Save Capitalism in Italy_



























James A. Donald
2009-02-15 16:40:25 EST
On Sat, 14 Feb 2009 12:39:56 -0800, Dan Clore
<*e@columbia-center.org> wrote:
> The meat of the EFCA would amend existing labor law in the US to allow
> unions to gain official recognition in a workplace through a majority of
> workers signing authorization cards and avoid the perilous and
> employer-dominated election route.

If the election route is "perilous and employer dominated", this would
imply that the authorization card route involves the cards being
collected by a couple of guys called big Danny and Vito the
legbreaker.

--
----------------------
We have the right to defend ourselves and our property, because
of the kind of animals that we are. True law derives from this
right, not from the arbitrary power of the omnipotent state.

http://www.jim.com/

Tmurf.1
2009-02-16 09:03:10 EST
On Feb 15, 4:40 pm, James A. Donald <jam...@echeque.com> wrote:
> On Sat, 14 Feb 2009 12:39:56 -0800, Dan Clore
>
> <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote:
> > The meat of the EFCA would amend existing labor law in the US to allow
> > unions to gain official recognition in a workplace through a majority of
> > workers signing authorization cards and avoid the perilous and
> > employer-dominated election route.
>
> If the election route is "perilous and employer dominated", this would
> imply that the authorization card route involves the cards being
> collected by a couple of guys called big Danny and Vito the
> legbreaker.
>
> --
>   ----------------------
> We have the right to defend ourselves and our property, because
> of the kind of animals that we are. True law derives from this
> right, not from the arbitrary power of the omnipotent state.
>
> http://www.jim.com/

That is a false assumption. The EFCA does not take away any rights
from voting workers in fact it puts more of the process in the workers
hands. The stupid part about "Big Danny and Vito the leg breaker" is
just knee jerk reaction to anything involving unions. It is also
obviously an ethnic slur with no basis in fact. These kinds of
assumptions are really ment to distract us from the facts that
companies don't want us to have any say about what we spend most of
our lives doing which is making owners rich as hell.

Tmurf1
2009-02-26 08:12:34 EST
On Feb 16, 9:03 am, "tmurf.1" <tmur...@juno.com> wrote:
> On Feb 15, 4:40 pm, James A. Donald <jam...@echeque.com> wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
> > On Sat, 14 Feb 2009 12:39:56 -0800, Dan Clore
>
> > <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote:
> > > The meat of the EFCA would amend existing labor law in the US to allow
> > > unions to gain official recognition in a workplace through a majority of
> > > workers signing authorization cards and avoid the perilous and
> > > employer-dominated election route.
>
> > If the election route is "perilous and employer dominated", this would
> > imply that the authorization card route involves the cards being
> > collected by a couple of guys called big Danny and Vito the
> > legbreaker.
>
> > --
> >   ----------------------
> > We have the right to defend ourselves and our property, because
> > of the kind of animals that we are. True law derives from this
> > right, not from the arbitrary power of the omnipotent state.
>
> >http://www.jim.com/
>
> That is a false assumption.  The EFCA does not take away any rights
> from voting workers in fact it puts more of the process in the workers
> hands.  The stupid part about "Big Danny and Vito the leg breaker" is
> just knee jerk reaction to anything involving unions.  It is also
> obviously an ethnic slur with no basis in fact.  These kinds of
> assumptions are really ment to distract us from the facts that
> companies don't want us to have any say about what we spend most of
> our lives doing which is making owners rich as hell.- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

The confirmation of Hilda Solis is another step in the right direction
for all working people not just unionized. We are a step closer to
passing the EFCA and the anti worker forces have used up all their
ammo and it has been ineffective. I hope they go broke trying to
fight this.

B1ackwater
2009-02-26 09:44:46 EST
On Thu, 26 Feb 2009 05:12:34 -0800 (PST), tmurf1 <tmurf.1@juno.com>
wrote:

>On Feb 16, 9:03=A0am, "tmurf.1" <tmur...@juno.com> wrote:
>> On Feb 15, 4:40=A0pm, James A. Donald <jam...@echeque.com> wrote:
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> > On Sat, 14 Feb 2009 12:39:56 -0800, Dan Clore
>>
>> > <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote:
>> > > The meat of the EFCA would amend existing labor law in the US to allo=
>w
>> > > unions to gain official recognition in a workplace through a majority=
> of
>> > > workers signing authorization cards and avoid the perilous and
>> > > employer-dominated election route.
>>
>> > If the election route is "perilous and employer dominated", this would
>> > imply that the authorization card route involves the cards being
>> > collected by a couple of guys called big Danny and Vito the
>> > legbreaker.
>>
>> > --
>> > =A0 ----------------------
>> > We have the right to defend ourselves and our property, because
>> > of the kind of animals that we are. True law derives from this
>> > right, not from the arbitrary power of the omnipotent state.
>>
>> >http://www.jim.com/
>>
>> That is a false assumption. =A0The EFCA does not take away any rights
>> from voting workers in fact it puts more of the process in the workers
>> hands. =A0The stupid part about "Big Danny and Vito the leg breaker" is
>> just knee jerk reaction to anything involving unions. =A0It is also
>> obviously an ethnic slur with no basis in fact. =A0These kinds of
>> assumptions are really ment to distract us from the facts that
>> companies don't want us to have any say about what we spend most of
>> our lives doing which is making owners rich as hell.- Hide quoted text -
>>
>> - Show quoted text -
>
>The confirmation of Hilda Solis is another step in the right direction
>for all working people not just unionized. We are a step closer to
>passing the EFCA and the anti worker forces have used up all their
>ammo and it has been ineffective. I hope they go broke trying to
>fight this.

EFCA is nothing but a free lunch for organized crime -
designed to make it easy to identify, harass, assault
and murder anyone standing between union bosses and
their monthly bounty.

Any person FOR this nightmare oughtta be put on the first
boat to the nearest totalitarian thug-state.


Tmurf1
2009-02-26 13:13:54 EST
On Feb 26, 9:44 am, b...@barrk.net (B1ackwater) wrote:
> On Thu, 26 Feb 2009 05:12:34 -0800 (PST), tmurf1 <tmur...@juno.com>
> wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
> >On Feb 16, 9:03=A0am, "tmurf.1" <tmur...@juno.com> wrote:
> >> On Feb 15, 4:40=A0pm, James A. Donald <jam...@echeque.com> wrote:
>
> >> > On Sat, 14 Feb 2009 12:39:56 -0800, Dan Clore
>
> >> > <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote:
> >> > > The meat of the EFCA would amend existing labor law in the US to allo=
> >w
> >> > > unions to gain official recognition in a workplace through a majority=
> > of
> >> > > workers signing authorization cards and avoid the perilous and
> >> > > employer-dominated election route.
>
> >> > If the election route is "perilous and employer dominated", this would
> >> > imply that the authorization card route involves the cards being
> >> > collected by a couple of guys called big Danny and Vito the
> >> > legbreaker.
>
> >> > --
> >> > =A0 ----------------------
> >> > We have the right to defend ourselves and our property, because
> >> > of the kind of animals that we are. True law derives from this
> >> > right, not from the arbitrary power of the omnipotent state.
>
> >> >http://www.jim.com/
>
> >> That is a false assumption. =A0The EFCA does not take away any rights
> >> from voting workers in fact it puts more of the process in the workers
> >> hands. =A0The stupid part about "Big Danny and Vito the leg breaker" is
> >> just knee jerk reaction to anything involving unions. =A0It is also
> >> obviously an ethnic slur with no basis in fact. =A0These kinds of
> >> assumptions are really ment to distract us from the facts that
> >> companies don't want us to have any say about what we spend most of
> >> our lives doing which is making owners rich as hell.- Hide quoted text -
>
> >> - Show quoted text -
>
> >The confirmation of Hilda Solis is another step in the right direction
> >for all working people not just unionized.  We are a step closer to
> >passing the EFCA and the anti worker forces have used up all their
> >ammo and it has been ineffective.  I hope they go broke trying to
> >fight this.
>
>    EFCA is nothing but a free lunch for organized crime -
>    designed to make it easy to identify, harass, assault
>    and murder anyone standing between union bosses and
>    their monthly bounty.
>
>    Any person FOR this nightmare oughtta be put on the first
>    boat to the nearest totalitarian thug-state.- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

America just finished voting me out of a totalitarian thug state, I
did not like it there.
there is much more organized crime in corporate offices than in all
the union halls in the world.

B1ackwater
2009-02-26 15:17:29 EST
On Thu, 26 Feb 2009 10:13:54 -0800 (PST), tmurf1 <tmurf.1@juno.com>
wrote:

>On Feb 26, 9:44=A0am, b...@barrk.net (B1ackwater) wrote:
>> On Thu, 26 Feb 2009 05:12:34 -0800 (PST), tmurf1 <tmur...@juno.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> >On Feb 16, 9:03=3DA0am, "tmurf.1" <tmur...@juno.com> wrote:
>> >> On Feb 15, 4:40=3DA0pm, James A. Donald <jam...@echeque.com> wrote:
>>
>> >> > On Sat, 14 Feb 2009 12:39:56 -0800, Dan Clore
>>
>> >> > <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote:
>> >> > > The meat of the EFCA would amend existing labor law in the US to a=
>llo=3D
>> >w
>> >> > > unions to gain official recognition in a workplace through a major=
>ity=3D
>> > of
>> >> > > workers signing authorization cards and avoid the perilous and
>> >> > > employer-dominated election route.
>>
>> >> > If the election route is "perilous and employer dominated", this wou=
>ld
>> >> > imply that the authorization card route involves the cards being
>> >> > collected by a couple of guys called big Danny and Vito the
>> >> > legbreaker.
>>
>> >> > --
>> >> > =3DA0 ----------------------
>> >> > We have the right to defend ourselves and our property, because
>> >> > of the kind of animals that we are. True law derives from this
>> >> > right, not from the arbitrary power of the omnipotent state.
>>
>> >> >http://www.jim.com/
>>
>> >> That is a false assumption. =3DA0The EFCA does not take away any right=
>s
>> >> from voting workers in fact it puts more of the process in the workers
>> >> hands. =3DA0The stupid part about "Big Danny and Vito the leg breaker"=
> is
>> >> just knee jerk reaction to anything involving unions. =3DA0It is also
>> >> obviously an ethnic slur with no basis in fact. =3DA0These kinds of
>> >> assumptions are really ment to distract us from the facts that
>> >> companies don't want us to have any say about what we spend most of
>> >> our lives doing which is making owners rich as hell.- Hide quoted text=
> -
>>
>> >> - Show quoted text -
>>
>> >The confirmation of Hilda Solis is another step in the right direction
>> >for all working people not just unionized. =A0We are a step closer to
>> >passing the EFCA and the anti worker forces have used up all their
>> >ammo and it has been ineffective. =A0I hope they go broke trying to
>> >fight this.
>>
>> =A0 =A0EFCA is nothing but a free lunch for organized crime -
>> =A0 =A0designed to make it easy to identify, harass, assault
>> =A0 =A0and murder anyone standing between union bosses and
>> =A0 =A0their monthly bounty.
>>
>> =A0 =A0Any person FOR this nightmare oughtta be put on the first
>> =A0 =A0boat to the nearest totalitarian thug-state.- Hide quoted text -
>>
>> - Show quoted text -
>
>America just finished voting me out of a totalitarian thug state, I
>did not like it there.
>there is much more organized crime in corporate offices than in all
>the union halls in the world.

Simply because there are a lot more corporate offices ...


Tmurf1
2009-02-27 09:16:45 EST
On Feb 26, 3:17 pm, b...@barrk.net (B1ackwater) wrote:
> On Thu, 26 Feb 2009 10:13:54 -0800 (PST), tmurf1 <tmur...@juno.com>
> wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
> >On Feb 26, 9:44=A0am, b...@barrk.net (B1ackwater) wrote:
> >> On Thu, 26 Feb 2009 05:12:34 -0800 (PST), tmurf1 <tmur...@juno.com>
> >> wrote:
>
> >> >On Feb 16, 9:03=3DA0am, "tmurf.1" <tmur...@juno.com> wrote:
> >> >> On Feb 15, 4:40=3DA0pm, James A. Donald <jam...@echeque.com> wrote:
>
> >> >> > On Sat, 14 Feb 2009 12:39:56 -0800, Dan Clore
>
> >> >> > <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote:
> >> >> > > The meat of the EFCA would amend existing labor law in the US to a=
> >llo=3D
> >> >w
> >> >> > > unions to gain official recognition in a workplace through a major=
> >ity=3D
> >> > of
> >> >> > > workers signing authorization cards and avoid the perilous and
> >> >> > > employer-dominated election route.
>
> >> >> > If the election route is "perilous and employer dominated", this wou=
> >ld
> >> >> > imply that the authorization card route involves the cards being
> >> >> > collected by a couple of guys called big Danny and Vito the
> >> >> > legbreaker.
>
> >> >> > --
> >> >> > =3DA0 ----------------------
> >> >> > We have the right to defend ourselves and our property, because
> >> >> > of the kind of animals that we are. True law derives from this
> >> >> > right, not from the arbitrary power of the omnipotent state.
>
> >> >> >http://www.jim.com/
>
> >> >> That is a false assumption. =3DA0The EFCA does not take away any right=
> >s
> >> >> from voting workers in fact it puts more of the process in the workers
> >> >> hands. =3DA0The stupid part about "Big Danny and Vito the leg breaker"=
> > is
> >> >> just knee jerk reaction to anything involving unions. =3DA0It is also
> >> >> obviously an ethnic slur with no basis in fact. =3DA0These kinds of
> >> >> assumptions are really ment to distract us from the facts that
> >> >> companies don't want us to have any say about what we spend most of
> >> >> our lives doing which is making owners rich as hell.- Hide quoted text=
> > -
>
> >> >> - Show quoted text -
>
> >> >The confirmation of Hilda Solis is another step in the right direction
> >> >for all working people not just unionized. =A0We are a step closer to
> >> >passing the EFCA and the anti worker forces have used up all their
> >> >ammo and it has been ineffective. =A0I hope they go broke trying to
> >> >fight this.
>
> >> =A0 =A0EFCA is nothing but a free lunch for organized crime -
> >> =A0 =A0designed to make it easy to identify, harass, assault
> >> =A0 =A0and murder anyone standing between union bosses and
> >> =A0 =A0their monthly bounty.
>
> >> =A0 =A0Any person FOR this nightmare oughtta be put on the first
> >> =A0 =A0boat to the nearest totalitarian thug-state.- Hide quoted text -
>
> >> - Show quoted text -
>
> >America just finished voting me out of a totalitarian thug state,  I
> >did not like it there.
> >there is much more organized crime in corporate offices than in all
> >the union halls in the world.
>
>    Simply because there are a lot more corporate offices ...- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

I can see you are starting to come around.
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