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Study: Workers Face Long Delays in the Struggle for Fair Contracts

June 5, 2009

Richmond - A new study finds that only a little more than half of Virginia workers who voted to join a union were able to get that first contract with their employers. The data comes as Congress considers the Employee Free Choice Act, a measure that would lift barriers to securing labor contracts. The study, performed by the Sloane School of Management at MIT, finds only 53 percent of all Virginia workers who successfully elected a union to represent them were ultimately able to get a contract.

MIT's John Paul Ferguson researched the issue and found, nationwide, the battle between management and workers resulted in delays that ultimately doomed the process.

"In one-third of these cases, employees never got to express their will, either for or against a union. I would like to see what their counter proposal is, if not the Employee Free Choice Act."

Those opposed to the reforms in the Free Choice Act have yet to suggest an alternative, says Ferguson.

"If someone wants to defend the sanctity of the election process in forming unions in the United States, I would like to hear what they plan to do about the fact that one-third of all election petitions never result in an election."

Ferguson's study reviewed five years of nationwide labor data.

Proponents argue the Employee Free Choice Act addresses the long delay between workers deciding to form a union and the eventual adoption of a new contract. The Act would bring in a binding neutral arbitrator to bring about agreements. Those opposed to the Act say arbitration would allow government to intrude into private business. The Center for American Progress reports, if another five percent of Virginia's workers were union members, an additional $947 million would be pumped into the state.

Aries Keck, Public News Service - VA