Recently, a colleague of mine at Brave New Films confessed she'd heard "EFCA" bandied about in many conversations but had no idea what it stood for. When someone whispered to her the "Employee Free Choice Act," she knew instantly what everyone was talking about, but this touched on a much larger problem regarding the way in which this vital piece of legislation is currently seen (or not seen) by the public.
The Employee Free Choice Act would enable workers to unionize more easily, using collective bargaining to gain fairer wages, benefits, and working conditions. Employers would have to recognize a union when a majority of workers sign union cards, though the current secret ballot system would remain on the table as an option for unionization. This act will go a long long way toward revitalizing our economy and restoring our nation's middle class, which is why President-elect Obama will likely make it a priority when he takes office next year, and why we have created videos, partnered with the SEIU, and dedicated episodes of Meet the Bloggers to this issue.
And yet the Employee Free Choice Act has been the target of a ton of blowback from conservatives and CEOs bent on keeping unionization efforts and workers' rights at bay. While FOX News and Republicans like Jim Boehner are desperately trying to perpetuate the myths about Employee Free Choice, Home Depot's founder and former CEO Bernie Marcus is saying that CEOs who don't contribute to Republicans opposed to Employee Free Choice "should be shot." And let's not forget the always loathsome Lee Scott, Wal-Mart's outgoing CEO who will still make $1.1 million a year as a "Wal-Mart associate." At an analyst meeting last week, Scott declared, "We like driving the car and we're not going to give the steering wheel to anybody but us."
We're so close to passing the Employee Free Choice Act that we must dispel the lasting lies and last-minute attempts by greedy CEOs and anti-labor politicians to quash our efforts of standing up for working people. That's why it's crucial to know the full story about Employee Free Choice, which you can get from reading Howie Klein's post that includes an excerpt from Barbara Ehrenreich's new book, This Land Is Their Land.
And that's why it is best, as the SEIU's Michael Whitney has said, that we not muddle the essence of the Employee Free Choice Act by reducing it to its acronym (think SCHIP). Yes, "EFCA" is perhaps a flashier and more economical way of referring to it, but you can glean so much of the act's meaning from its title. Its frame and fundamental importance are right there: Employee Free Choice.
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