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‘Labor Laws No Longer Protect Workers’ Rights’

Source: AFL-CIO

American workers’ freedom to form unions, which has enabled millions of employees to make family-supportive wages and benefits, is under attack by employers—and the nation’s labor laws are not protecting against employer intimidation and harassment, according to both Reagan- and Clinton-appointed members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

“The law’s remedies for labor law violations are weak and ineffective. Many underlying assumptions and doctrines of the law are out of synch with changing realities, especially the changing nature of the employment relationship, the workplace and communications,” said Wilma Liebman in her keynote address to the Robert Fuchs Labor Law Conference at Boston’s Suffolk University Law School Oct. 27.

Liebman is the only Democratic member of the five-member NLRB, which currently has two vacant seats. The NLRB is a federal agency created by Congress in 1935 to administer the National Labor Relations Act, the primary law governing relations between unions and employers in the private sector.

Marshall Babson, a management attorney and former NLRB member appointed to the board by President Ronald Reagan in 1985, spoke in favor of majority sign-up agreements in which an employer voluntarily agrees to recognize the union after a majority of workers signs cards supporting the union. Currently, most workers seeking to join unions are forced to go through the cumbersome NLRB election process, which employers often drag out as a way to intimidate and discourage workers from joining unions. The majority sign-up process enables workers to join unions without fear of employer threats.

But according to Babson, the NLRB has announced it intends to review majority sign-up.

“We should be long past questions about the right of employers and unions to enter into voluntary recognition agreements,” Babson told the conference. Many employers see it as in their interest to sign a voluntary recognition agreement, and they are “not rare or unusual,” said Babson.

Working Families Set for Dec. 10 Mobilization to Restore Freedom to Form Unions
Working Families Back Employee Free Choice Act

Tell Congress: Restore workers’ freedom to form unions. Send a message to your U.S. senators and representative urging them to co-sponsor the Employee Free Choice Act.


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