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Amy Traub

The Rebuilding the Middle Class Act AKA Employee Free Choice

The Senate is set to vote tomorrow on the Employee Free Choice Act, which could also be called the Rebuilding the American Middle Class Act. The bill would make it easier for employees to decide on representation by a labor union.

As I've shown in the past unions not only helped to create the American middle class in the last century, they continue to propel millions of Americans into the middle class today, empowering members to demand jobs that are capable of sustaining a middle-class standard of living, with dignified wages, leave policies, health care, and retirement plans. The benefits of union membership are most pronounced for people of color and for women. In areas where unions represent a high proportion of workers a particular industry, they can even help to raise industry standards across-the-board: improving wages and job quality even for workers who don't belong. Not surprisingly, as union membership has declined over the past decades, the middle-class squeeze has intensified.

Giving more Americans the choice to join a union would be a significant step toward rebuilding the American middle class and alleviating the squeeze. That makes the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) one of the most important bills Congress has considered this year.

At it's core, EFCA would make it easier for Americans to decide on union representation without being threatened and harassed by their employers. Of course, it's already illegal for employers to threaten and harass employees -- we’re already supposed to have a free choice about whether we want a union -- but in practice illegal harassment and even firings are common and usually go unpunished. We need a new system for guaranteeing the right to decide on union membership, and that's what EFCA provides.

Check out Elana's post from March when the bill passed the House for more details on what the act would do and some of the deceit and misinformation being used to discredit the bill and provide cover to policymakers who vote against it.

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Posted at 10:38 AM, Jun 25, 2007 in Congress | Labor | Middle-class squeeze | Politics
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