Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Senate Republicans Block Labor Bill, Kerry Says, Opponents of Workers’ Rights Shortchange America’s Workers

Why do Senate Republicans hate American workers? The N.Y. Times reports that "Senate Republicans today blocked the labor movement’s top legislative priority, a bill that would have made it easier for unions to organize workers."

In a largely party line vote, supporters of the bill, the Employee Free Choice Act, failed to get the 60 votes needed to cut off debate and allow a vote on the bill. The vote was 51 for cutting off debate and 48 against.

The bill would have given workers the right to insist on a procedure, known as majority sign-up, that allows employees at a workplace to form a union as soon as a majority of them signed cards saying they wanted one. Under current law, an employer facing a unionization drive can insist on a secret-ballot election.

The bill fueled a feverish lobbying battle between business and labor. Corporate lobbyists and their Republican allies asserted that the bill would infringe on workers’ rights by denying employees the right to a secret-ballot election. Union officials and their Democratic allies said the bill was needed to help reverse labor’s decline, because employers often defeat unionization drives by intimidating and firing workers during secret-ballot elections.

Senator John Kerry, an original co-sponsor and longtime supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act made the following statement on Tuesday following the vote on the Employee Free Choice Act:

The Republicans who stood in the way of this bill insulted workers across our country, but we will keep fighting until the right to organize is free from obstacles and fairness is restored to this system,” Senator Kerry said. “Millions of Americans want to join a union, but corporate-funded illegal activity and fear tactics have stood in their way. Since day one, this Administration has been rolling back the clock on workers’ rights and turning a blind eye to its union-busting patrons. We will restore balance to a broken labor system. I urge opponents of this bill to consider whether America’s workers deserve fair pay, health care and a stable retirement. We will fight to get this legislation back to the floor as soon as possible.


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