Labor unions, pushing for a new law that would make it easier for workers to unite and impose harsher penalties against employers who practice union-busting, are invoking Barack Obama's campaign themes of hope and change in a new multi-million dollar ad campaign to begin running tomorrow.
American Rights at Work, a union advocacy group, chaired by former Rep. David Bonior D-Mich., used real workers to star in the ads, which implore lawmakers to pass The Employee Free Choice Act. The ads will run nationwide for the next two weeks.
"I hope to have some health care… for a change," says one worker.
"I hope to work just one job… for a change," says another.
Under current law, forming a union can be a daunting process for workers, the advocates argue, since employers can require employees to vote whether to organize by secret ballot. Under the proposed bill, workers would be able to choose instead to publicly sign cards stating they want to form a union. If more than half the workers sign the cards, then the union is official. The proposal would also require bosses to negotiate with the union.
"On Election Day, the American people voted for hope and change – and our ads continue their call for action to make our economy work for everyone again, not just CEOs and corporate special interests," said American Rights at Work Executive Director Mary Beth Maxwell. "That's why a substantial majority of Americans see the Employee Free Choice Act as part of the common sense solutions critical to economic recovery and reinvigorating the middle class."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is opposed to the bill, saying that if it passes, strikes and work stoppages will become more frequent.
In response, Bonior, who is also a member of Obama's economic transition team, says that although American businesses have become steadily more profitable over the last three decades, workers have not shared in that ballooning wealth because wages have been stagnant.
"To bridge this gap in inequality, we have to give people the chance to collectively bargain with their employers," Bonior said. "This act is not only important for union organizers but for those who are not in a union."