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Kerry: Support America's Workers by Ensuring Right to Organize

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Kerry: Support America's Workers by Ensuring Right to Organize

Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) pushed for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which will remove barriers for workers trying to organize. The legislation will mandate that employers recognize a majority vote by workers who want to form a union. Senator Kerry is an original co-sponsor of this legislation.

"The right of American workers to organize has been at the foundation of every march forward for working people in the history of our country," Senator Kerry said. "The current law provides too many opportunities for employers to impose disincentives, hire anti-union consultants, or simply refuse to bargain when they don't like the outcome of a vote. Union membership increases wages and improves benefits and makes sure that our workers and their families are treated fairly. After seven years of the White House giving tax away the store to powerful interests at the expense of working Americans, it's long past time for Washington and our Democratic majority to uphold the rights, and listen to the voices of working Americans."

In 2005, the National Labor Relations Board reported that 31,358 workers were disciplined or fired for union activity. The current law, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), serves as a foundation for modern labor rights, but includes a number of loop holes for employers. For one, the law does not adequately protect workers from employers that call for secret elections and then use coercion to pressure their workers from casting a pro-union vote. Even when employers are found to have violated the NLRA, its penalties are so insignificant that is it often more worthwhile for an employee to fire union organizers and intimate workers.

The Employee Free Choice Act fixes this problem by requiring the National Labor Relations Board, and by extension, employers, to recognize a union when a majority of employees have signed their names to authorization cards and present them to the Board. The bill also includes, for the first time, substantial fines for employers that engage in union busting activities, and requires binding arbitration if an employer and a newly formed union cannot agree to an initial contract.

Studies show unionized workers are paid 28 percent more than non-union workers, 92 percent of unionized workers have some health care coverage, and 3 out of 4 have defined benefit retirement plans—compared to 1 in 6 non-union members.

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