NRTWC Gets It Wrong On The Employee Free Choice Act

October 31, 2010 6:16 pm ET

In a new ad attacking Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC) reveals that it is more concerned about helping big business than protecting the rights of hardworking Americans. The NRWC levels several false charges against the Employee Free Choice Act, including that "workers would lose their right to secret ballot elections," while being targeted with "lies, intimidation, threats, and worse," and that workers and small businesses would be forced to acquiesce to "big labor control in the blink of an eye" — an action we "literally cannot afford." In reality, the Employee Free Choice Act would expand the rights of workers while keeping intact the secret-ballot option and limiting the clout of union management. Furthermore, the bill would actually benefit small businesses by reducing the likelihood of business closures and encouraging local spending through increased wages for workers.

National Right To Work Committee: "Forced Unionism"

There's nothing the union bosses would love more than to send your U.S. Senator, Patty Murray, back to Washington, D.C. to vote for more forced unionism. After all, why else would they have funneled nearly $450,000 into her campaign? The truth is Senator Murray has never been afraid to put her big labor buddies' interests ahead of Washington citizens, including voting for the card check forced unionism bill. If passed, workers would lose their right to secret ballot elections when union organizers assault their work places. Instead, union militants will be able to target workers with lies, intimidation, threats, and worse — all to get them to sign so-called union authorization cards and accept union boss control. The result: millions of workers and small businesses would be forced under big labor control in the blink of an eye. And during these tough economic times, that's something we literally cannot afford. That's why it's vital you call Patty Murray immediately. Tell Senator Patty Murray to apologize for her past support of big labor's radical agenda and to pledge 100 percent opposition to forced unionism before it's too late.

The Employee Free Choice Act Doesn't Eliminate The Secret-Ballot Option

Wall Street Journal: "The Bill Doesn't Remove The Secret-Ballot Option From The National Labor Relations Act." One of the primary talking points against the Employee Free Choice Act is that the bill eliminates the right to secret-ballot elections. Opponents of the bill claim that this would lead to increased pressure on workers to vote for unionization. However, the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board begrudgingly admitted that this is a lie, writing, "The bill doesn't remove the secret-ballot option from the National Labor Relations Act." [Wall Street Journal, 3/20/09]

Christian Science Monitor: "The Proposed Law Gives Workers A Choice Of Forming A Union Through Majority Sign-Up ('Card Check') Or An Election By Secret Ballot." In an article on the Employee Free Choice Act, the Christian Science Monitor wrote: "The proposed law gives workers a choice of forming a union through majority sign-up ('card check') or an election by secret ballot. The current election process, governed by the National Labor Relations Board, strongly favors employers, unions say.  The bill also beefs up penalties for employers that discriminate against workers for their union-organizing activity, including treble back pay for workers found to have been illegally fired." [Christian Science Monitor, 3/11/09]

The Employee Free Choice Act "Allows Workers To Choose Between Signing A Membership Card And Having And Election." According to the Center for American Progress: "The bill would allow an employee to choose to join a union through simple majority sign-up-a system that works well at the small number of workplaces that choose to permit it. The act does not deny workers their right to vote in a union election, as some conservatives maintain, but rather allows workers to choose between signing a membership card and having an election." [Center for American Progress, Issue Brief: Unions Are good for the Economy and Democracy, 12/9/08]

PolitiFact: Employees "Could Ask for a Secret-Ballot Election." According to "Just like before, if unions got more than 30 percent of the employees to sign cards, they could ask for a secret-ballot election." Additionally, the site wrote, "As a practical matter, secret-ballot elections would be far less frequent if the Employee Free Choice Act were passed. But they would still take place under certain circumstances..." [, 3/24/09]

New York Times: "Business Groups Have Attacked The Legislation Because It Would Take Away Employers' Right To Insist On Holding A Secret-Ballot Election." As reported by the New York Times: "The bill would give workers the right to join a union as soon as a majority of employees at a workplace signed cards saying they wanted one. Business groups have attacked the legislation because it would take away employers' right to insist on holding a secret-ballot election to determine whether workers favored unionization." [New York Times, 11/8/08]

The Employee Free Choice Act Doesn't Diminish Workers' Rights, It Restores Them

New York Times: "The Bill...Would Make It Easier For Workers To Join Unions." Rather than eliminating the right of workers to organize through secret-ballot elections, the Employee Free Choice Act gives workers the additional right to form unions through majority sign-up. As explained by the New York Times: "the bill...would make it easier for workers to join unions by requiring that employers recognize a union if a majority of employees at a workplace sign cards indicating they wish to organize." [New York Times, 12/29/09]

Human Rights Watch: "The Employee Free Choice Act...Is A Human Rights Imperative." According to Human Rights Watch: "Despite its clear obligations under international law to protect workers' right to freedom of association, the United States fails to do so. US labor law is weak and riddled with loopholes. Penalties for violations are minimal and further emasculated by systematic and lengthy enforcement delays. The Employee Free Choice Act...would remedy many of the most pernicious legal shortcomings. Its passage, therefore, is a human rights imperative." [Human Rights Watch, The Employee Free Choice Act: A Human Rights Imperative, January 2009]

Workers Want To Join Unions

Nearly 60 Percent Of Workers Would Join A Union If They Could. According to the Center for American Progress: "Only 12 percent of American workers today are members of unions - but that's not because they don't want to be. A December 2006 Peter Hart Research Associates Poll reports that 58 percent of non-managerial American workers would join a union if they could." [Center for American Progress, 12/9/08]

Union Members Earn Higher Wages.  According to the Center for American Progress Action Fund: "Over the four-year period between 2004 and 2007, unionized workers' wages were on average 11.3 percent higher than non-union workers with similar characteristics. That means that, all else equal, American workers that join a union will earn 11.3 percent more-or $2.26 more per hour in 2008 dollars-than their otherwise identical non-union counterparts." [Center for American Progress Action Fund, 2/18/09]

Unions Help Minorities And Low-Wage Workers Earn Better Pay. According to American Rights At Work: "The [pay] difference is even greater for Latinos, with a union wage advantage 18%, and for low-wage workers, where union membership raises wages by 21%.  Unions also raise the wages of African American members by 12%, and for women union members by 11%." [American Rights At Work, The Employee Free Choice Act: Ensuring the Economy Works for Everyone, December 2008; in-texts citations deleted for clarity]

Union Members Receive Better Benefits.  According to SEIU, union workers "are 28 percent more likely to have health insurance, and 54 percent more likely to have a pension" than non-union workers. [SEIU, 1/13/09]

The Employee Free Choice Act Doesn't Give Unions Too Much Power, It Gives Workers A Voice

The Employee Free Choice Act Will Give Workers A Voice.  According to the Center for American Progress: "Unions give workers a voice on the job and improve communication between workers and management. Without unions, day-to-day competitive pressures leave quitting as the only option for workers to address serious problems-an expensive solution for all concerned." [Center for American Progress, 12/19/08]

Anti-Union Corporations Are Afraid Of Losing Power.  On November 19, 2008, Wall Street Journal columnist Thomas Frank wrote: "Card check is about power. Management has it, workers don't, and business doesn't want that to change. Consider the remarks made by Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott at an analyst meeting on Oct. 28, when he was asked about the possible coming of card check: 'We like driving the car and we're not going to give the steering wheel to anybody but us.'" [Wall Street Journal, 11/19/08]

The Employee Free Choice Act Is Good For The Economy

Higher Wages Create Consumer Activity.  According to the Center for American Progress Action Fund: "One of the primarily [sic] reasons why our current recession endures is that workers do not have the purchasing power they need to drive our economy. Even when times were relatively good, workers were getting squeezed. Income for the median working age household fell by about $2,000 between 2000 and 2007, and it could fall even further as the economy continues to decline. Consumer activity accounts for roughly 70 percent of our nation's economy, and for a while workers were able to use debt to sustain their consumption. Yet debt-driven consumption is not sustainable, as we are plainly seeing. What is sustainable is an economy where workers are adequately rewarded and have the income they need to purchase goods." [Center for American Progress Action Fund, 2/18/09]

Heritage/WSJ: Unions Create More "Economic Freedom." In January 2009, the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal published their fifteenth annual "Index of Economic Freedom," which measures "countries' commitment to free market capitalism." Heritage noted: "for the first time, the Index also correlates economic freedom with important societal values like poverty reduction, human development, political freedom and environmental protection. The linkages are robust, with economically freer countries performing significantly better on every indicator of well-being."  Of the top ten countries on the list, the United States - which ranks sixth - has by far the lowest unionization rate. As Matthew Yglesias wrote, "Long story short, by conservatives' own lights these major elements of progressive social policy are completely compatible with sound overall economic policy." [Heritage Foundation, 1/13/09; Matthew Yglesias, 1/14/09]

Krugman: The Employee Free Choice Act Will Help Revive The Middle Class.  In an open letter to President Obama published in Rolling Stone, Nobel-laureate Paul Krugman stressed the need to "to start laying the groundwork to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it much harder for employers to intimidate workers who want to join a union. I know it probably won't happen in your first year, but if and when it does, the legislation will enable America to take a huge step toward recapturing the middle-class society we've lost." [Rolling Stone, 1/14/09]

Center For American Progress: When Unions Were Stronger, The Economy Thrived.  According to the Center for American Progress Action Fund: "From 1947 to 1973, the period when unions were the strongest and nearly one-third of workers were organized, U.S. economic output nearly tripled in size, growing at an average of 3.8 percent annually. The strength of unions during this period meant workers were rewarded with increasing real wages, and greater American purchasing power produced more profit for U.S. companies, more investment, and increased labor productivity." [Center for American Progress Action Fund, 3/11/09]

The Employee Free Choice Act Does Not Hurt Small Businesses

House Labor Committee: "Small Businesses Stand To Benefit From The Employee Free Choice Act." According to the House Committee on Education and Labor, "Large employers are more likely to be the subject of organizing drives than are small employers.  When workers organize, wage and other gains made by employees will mean more money in their wallets to spend locally.  When workers spend locally, they stimulate small businesses.  Moreover, when small businesses are organized, these businesses reap rewards - like partaking in apprenticeship and worker training programs and competitive multiemployer health and pension plans, which they would have been unable to provide on their own.  This has been the experience particularly in the construction industry." [House Committee on Education and Labor, accessed 4/13/09]

Many Small Businesses Are Exempt from the National Labor Relations Act.  According to the House Committee on Education and Labor: "[M]any small businesses are exempt from the NLRA and the Employee Free Choice Act altogether - some 5.5 million workers are not covered by the NLRA because their small employer is considered too small to be engaged in interstate commerce." [House Committee on Education and Labor, accessed 4/13/09]

SBA: Unionization Reduces The Probability of Business Closures.  According to the Small Business Administration: "Surprisingly, state unionization rates significantly reduce the probability of business closures." [U.S. Small Business Administration, A Spatial Model of the Impact of State Bankruptcy Exemptions on Entrepreneurship, July 2005]