Thursday, February 5, 2009

Employee Free Choice Act officially kicks off, but does anyone care?

Yesterday, the AFL-CIO delivered to Capitol Hill a petition of a claimed 1.5 million signature in support of the Employee Free Choice Act. The union also held a rally on the Hill in support of its cause that drew a crowd of thousands. The rally is meant officially to kick off the unions’ efforts to have the EFCA enacted.

The open question, however, is whether anyone really wants unions in the first place. According to the results of two different polls released yesterday, support for the EFCA may be waning, if it ever really existed at all.

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace surveyed 1,000 likely general election voters, including 477 who voted for President Obama last November. The poll’s key findings are as follows:

  • 73% of Obama voters are opposed to EFCA.

  • 86% of Obama voters believe that a worker’s vote should be kept private in a union organizing election.

  • 81% of Obama voters believe that secret ballot elections are the best way to protect the individual rights of workers.

  • 81% of Obama voters believe that Congress should focus on other issues like jobs and health care before dealing with EFCA.

  • 68% of Obama voters believe the binding arbitration provisions in EFCA are risky and unwise.

  • 61% of Obama voters would be less likely to vote for a Member of Congress who voted to take away the secret ballot from workers.

The conclusion, by Brian Worth of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace:

Obama voters did not go to the polls last November to eliminate the secret ballot, and Congress should think twice about taking it away from millions of American workers. This bill is opposed by Democrats, Republicans, Independents, rank and file union workers, and President Obama’s voters by roughly the same margins. The only support card check has is among the leaders of Big Labor who are willing to sacrifice worker privacy and put our economy at further risk to boost their membership roles.

Meanwhile, the Center for Union Facts released the findings from another poll, which found that 82% of non-unionized American workers do not want their jobs to be unionized. The poll of more than 3,000 people reported the following results:

1. Are you or someone in your immediate family in a labor union?
     YES 20%
     NO 79%

2. Would you like your job to be unionized?
     YES 13%
     NO 82%

Regardless of petitions, signature, or rallies, or polling data, businesses should be preparing themselves as if the EFCA is going to become law. Employers should foster open communication between employees and management, train managers and supervisors on how to effectively deal with employee issues, create an environment of inclusion of employees in corporate decision making, and implement or update non-solicitation policies.

Companies should strive to be workplaces of choice for employees and not workplaces of opportunity for labor unions.