February 20, 2009
Workers, local academics and civil rights leaders joined the community at the North Carolina Justice Center for a press conference on the importance of the Employee Free Choice Act and the freedom to bargain for a better life. The gathering was a response to an anti-worker event by Americans for Prosperity to spread misinformation about the Employee Free Choice Act.
The NAACP and over 80 community organizations support the Employee Free Choice Act because of its implications to civil rights and democracy in the workplace. “It’s shameful that Big Business continues to mislead the public about the Employee Free Choice Act,” explained Al Ripley, chair of the NC NAACP Labor and Industry Committee, “This legislation does not eliminate the secret ballot and it does not endanger workers’ voting rights. The NAACP and other civil rights organizations support the Employee Free Choice Act because we understand that the real civil rights issue is protecting workers’ right to organize and bargain for better living conditions.”
The Employee Free Choice Act is based on the notion that workers who want to form a union should be able to do so without running a gauntlet of employer threats, intimidation and illegal firings. Workers at UPS Freight, after years of setbacks and complications over secret ballot votes, were able to form a union through majority sign-up. “Majority sign-up made things so much easier,” remembered UPS Freight worker Fred Hargrove. “No more management stall tactics and intimidation. We were finally able to form a union through a true democratic majority. After joining a union, I’ve enjoyed better wages and access to health care for my family.”
In addition to giving workers the choice to join unions through the secret ballot or majority sign-up, the legislation places harsher penalties on employers who break the law and enables both employers and employees to seek the help of a mediator for the negotiation process.
Community members and academic experts in support of the Employee Free Choice Act believe that the legislation will expand and sustain economic recovery. David Zonderman, History Professor at NC State University, explained, “Economic recessions are not the times to crush organized labor. On the contrary, the worse the economy, the more we need a healthy, vibrant workforce, because workers are also consumers. The Employee Free Choice Act will give working families what they need to get this economy back on track.”