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"Free Choice Act" Faces Congressional Filibuster

June 26, 2007

Legislation designed to make it easier for American workers to form a union has passed the House and comes before the Senate where it faces stiff opposition with a split along party lines and even a filibuster.

The law would certify a union when a majority of workers sign authorizing cards. It would also crack down on employers who violate labor laws related to unionizing. As it is, Larry Matheney with the West Virginia AFL-CIO says workers who want to unionize are routinely fired and face threats that their workplace will be closed, which are both illegal practices.

“The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 clearly states that workers must have the right to freely form unions, but in truth what happens is, they're just obstructed time and time again.”

Currently, employers can demand a secret ballot. The law would give workers the option of calling for an election. Opponents call the measure undemocratic. But supporters say the bill creates a level playing field and includes provisions that are fair to workers and to businesses.

Matheney believes the election process has been corrupted to let companies intimidate workers and lock unions out, making it nearly impossible to form a union. He says the system doesn't allow for checks and balances.

“The rights of workers have just constantly been disregarded and unfortunately, the National Labor Relations Board has upheld companies in their actions of intimidation.”

Rob Ferrett/Eric Mack, Public News Service - WV