Miami - Today started with a press conference on the Employee Free Choice Act. John Sweeney led off by saying that labor is united around EFCA as its number one priority. He said much of yesterdays discussion focused on labor’s mobilization strategy for passage. He cited in particular Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, She told the council meeting of how the building trades had supported teachers in organizing their union in New York City. Weingarten said it is time for all unions, even those not specifically affected by EFCA, to return that kind of solidarity. She announced that the AFT is contributing $1 million to the campaign.
As an example of union mobilization Sweeney noted that next week the United Steelworkers are collecting 2000 hand written letters to Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), this on top of 1000 letters already delivered last week.
EFCA, Democracy and the Economy
Larry Cohen, president of the Communication Workers of America, made strong points for EFCA as basic democracy and good for the country. He pointed out that of all the “democratic” countries in the Americas, North and South, the US and Colombia have the worst laws on collective bargaining. Most countries not only allow majority sign up for union recognition, but some don’t even require a majority. Cohen and others repeatedly stressed that passage of the EFCA is a basic component of economic recovery. Getting consumer demand broadly into the hands of working people is critical to generating production and economic activity.
Citing the New York drug store chain Duane Reade’s support for EFCA, Cohen mentioned a string of companies that are supporting the act or have called on business to remain neutral. It is a growing business push-back against the Chamber of Commerce and rightwing attacks.
Facts to Fight With
John Schmidt, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, presented a new report detailing illegal firings to stop organizing campaigns: you can read it here.
Philip Jackson (left) is a pipefitter apprentice and proud member of the United Association union. He was fired for discussing his union on the job. He is now unemployed and said that whenever he applies for a job he’s not hired because of his union membership.
Angela Winningham is a Delta flight attendant who spoke of her experiences with management’s underhanded practices and intimidation tactics to defeat NLRB elections.
Today’s agenda includes a discussion on support for nationalizing failing banks and discussion of the on-going efforts to reunite the entire labor movement into one federation.
Stay tuned, more to come.