Thursday, April 22, 2010

Would UFCW strikers benefit from Employee Free Choice Act?

Let's see if you can find the flaw in this story:

UFCW strikers go on strike over management greed.

Members of the United Food & Commercial Workers, Local 1167 have been on strike for nearly a week.

With earnings of $19.55 an hour, they will have wasted $782 in wages as of tomorrow.

The UFCW workers are out on strike over wages--they want a $0.10 per hour increase

Their employer does not want to give it to them.

"I think they've been offered a very good contract," says their boss.

Their employer is currently using management and (presumably) temporary replacement workers to fill the strikers' jobs for now.

If their employer gives in to the strikers demands tomorrow (one week after the strike started) by granting the $0.10 per hour increase, it will take the strikers three years and 40 weeks to recoup what they have lost in the one week they have been out on strike.  If the strike lasts a month, it will take the strikers 15 years and two weeks to make up the money they will have lost...if they get that dime an hour increase.

Now, here's where it gets interesting:

Unions have spent years and hundreds of millions of over a billion dollars to get politicians elected in order to get a law passed called the Employee Free Choice Act.  One of the rallying cries for EFCA is the allegedly weak labor laws here in the U.S.  And, one of the cornerstones of EFCA is a process called binding arbitration--a process where a government arbitrator imposes a union contract on the unionized employer.

In fact, here's what one union has about EFCA on its website:
The Employee Free Choice Act is legislation designed to protect the middle class by giving workers a free choice and fair chance to join a union. Employee Free Choice would ultimately raise wages, benefits, and working conditions for workers. It would do it by empowering workers with the chance to join a union in a simple one-step process: if a majority of workers choose union representation, their company must honor that choice and negotiate a union contract. It also holds companies accountable for trying to suppress workers’ freedom to join a union. CEOs negotiate their contracts—Employee Free Choice would ensure workers have the same right. With more members uniting for a voice on the job, we can build more power at the bargaining table to negotiate better contracts and restore the American Dream for millions of workers.

Despite the fact that EFCA will ultimately destroy more jobs, unions have used just about every labor-management conflict imagineable (like the example above) to push for this legislation.

So here's a couple of questions (and the rub):

Would EFCA help the strikers that we used in the example above get their $0.10 per hour increase?

Would it matter?

Or, since these workers are already unionized and EFCA's binding arbitration provision only applies to newly unionized workers, would they still be striking their greedy employer over a measly $0.10 per hour?

Does it matter that the greedy employer cited above is, in fact, the United Food & Commercial Workers whose own employees went out on strike last week?

And does it matter that the above EFCA quote is from the same UFCW local's website?

Perhaps the word hypocrisy should begin with capital "U."

...but it probably doesn't matter.

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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