Vol. 1, Issue 17
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Labor Commission Chair
Melissa ORourke, Labor Commission Coordinator, Labor UpFront editor
overhaul the top priority for Americas
Americans reject policies of greed and union busting!
By Scott Marshall
President-elect Barack Obama.
Those words ring with meaning. For organized labor they ring with
pride, hope, and energy for the struggles ahead. No one feels like
labors candidate won, so now we can go home and rest. Rather, as
congratulation messages pour in from all parts of the labor movement,
the critical subtext is, we are ready and eager to march with you for
change. At the top of labors change agenda is boots-on-the-ground
support for the Obama agenda of a new New Deal for economic recovery
and passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.
Organized labor played an amazing role in the election Barack Obama.
Unions played an extraordinary leadership role in winning the working
class for Obama.
Its been many years since labor was so totally united behind a
Labor raised the struggle against racism and for class unity to a whole
Unions gave vital leadership in building support for Obama on issues
like the economy, workers rights to organize, protecting retirees
pensions and social security, healthcare, and building green
manufacturing that protects the environment and puts people back to
The labor movement took independent political action to spectacular new
levels. Unions broke all previous records in mobilizing its rank and
file for labor walks, phone banks, plant gate distributions, and member
to member contact in the workplace. Labor continued to build and
develop its own political apparatus and voice. Hundreds, if not
thousands, of union halls became campaign central for the Obama
campaign as well as for targeted Congressional contests.
As phenomenal as labors efforts were, the impact of the Obama upsurge
and campaign on labor was also incredible. New coalitions were built or
strengthened. A new depth was added to ties between labor and all the
components of the Obama movement.
Labors role was hardly mentioned in the mainstream press. All the more
reason for labor to have a big showing of celebration and support for
our new President. Some in labor have begun to talk about a big
mobilization for President Barack Obamas Peoples Inaugural.
What a great idea!
Law overhaul top priority for labor
By John Wojcik
Leaders of the nations two huge labor federations, the AFL-CIO and
Change-to-Win, say that the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is at the
top of their agenda and that unions will work with the incoming Obama
administration and with Congress to ensure its passage.
In an economy that gives corporations far too much power, a union card
remains the single best ticket into the middle class, AFL-CIO
President John Sweeney declared.
With a president-elect who is a co-sponsor of the EFCA, with a vice
president-elect who is a co-sponsor of the EFCAwith the gains in the
House and Senate, the prospects of passage have increased
dramatically, added Rich Trumka, the federations secretary-treasurer.
Labor leaders warn, however, that the effort to pass the bill will not
be without roadblocks.
Passage will require a filibuster-proof 60 vote super majority in the
Senate. The law was passed by the House last year but derailed in the
Senate in a filibuster led by Republican Minority Leader Mitch
McConnell, a right-winger who was re-elected Nov.4 in Kentucky.
Democrats, along with two independents who caucus with them, now number
57, three below the filibuster-proof super majority. To stop a
filibuster three Republicans would have to join them.
The possibility remains that the Democratic Senate majority can still
grow to 60 because three races remain unsettled.
The EFCA would allow workers to form a union as soon as a majority at a
work site sign pledge cards indicating their desire to be
by the union. This would short circuit the prolonged company-dominated
campaigns of harassment and firings that often now precede elections
that companies can call for at workplaces where employees express a
desire to unionize.
The EFCA would also sharply increase penalties, up to $20,000 per
violation, for those who violate labor laws and would make it easier to
get court orders against labor law breakers. The law would also mandate
binding arbitration between unions and employers if they cannot reach
agreement on an initial contract within 120 days of starting talks.
For the first time in eight years we have a president who supports
workers rights, AFL-CIO political director Karen Ackerman said at the
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