Congress is about to begin debate on a union-sponsored proposal that if passed, would make it easier for employees choose to be represented by a union-or not.
The current law provides that if a group of employees want a union shop, then they must demonstrate a significant interest, usually by signing authorization cards, and then a secret ballot election is held; usually at the employers place of business. The proposed law would allow that same group to choose, ergo the “Free Choice” part, to have an election or grant a union representation authority by having 50 percent +1 of the eligible employees sign a card authorizing that authority. The act would also provide stiffer penalties to employers who fail to bargain in good faith once union recognition has been granted by the National Labor Relations Board.
The unions argue that employers often intimidate employees during the usually long and drawn out process now required to get to a secret ballot election. Employers who oppose the legislation say that the union will intimidate their employees into signing authorization cards; but they are also somewhat more silently concerned with how negotiating with a union will change their business.
It’s hard to argue that the industry, and the middle class journeymen/women who made their living in it, were better off in the ’50s and ’60s when union agreements were commonplace and most contractors bid on a level playing field with their competition. What do you think? How would a more unionized walls and ceiling industry affect you?
Trowel Talk: Employees Free Choice Act
William Rogers is the executive director of the Plasterers and Cement Masons Job Corps Training Program, a national training opportunity for America's disadvantaged youth sponsored by AWCI, OPCMIA and the U.S. Department of Labor.