Employee Free Choice Act. I kind of hate the title.
I never really understand the term Free Choice when just about anyone uses it. It's not like I'm not bright, I am. I'm articulate too, wahoo for me. But the concept of a "Free Choice" always escapes me.
I suppose my issue is with the seemingly obvious concept of "free" in "Free Choice." It's the concept that you can make a decision about your life, your being completely freely. Seems so simple. A concept where you aren't constrained by morality, faith, anger, emotional baggage or even peer pressure.
Let's face it, no choice is ever really free. Things are weighed, considered, addressed for their obvious issues with risk or just plain old fears. In the end, what weighs on our individual minds seems to be of more consequence than say the ability to make a "free" choice.
I think that's what Harold Meyerson was getting at in his piece from the Washington Post
If our nation was governed by business's version of democratic choice, we would hold elections to determine the winner, but nearly half the time the incumbent would remain in power even if he lost.
But the kind of democratic choice that business favors is choice without consequence -
It's a lovely system for businesses that don't want to pay higher wages or accord their workers some rights, and they've been fighting hard to keep it that way.
Businesses care about nothing but their needs and desires. Kind of like a tyrant or some other despot. And yeah, they have power and they brag about it too,like they did in the LA Times:
In the Ozark Mountain town of Rogers, Ark., more than 250 business owners gathered for lunch at a construction company last month to focus on what they saw as a major threat -- a proposal in Congress to make it easier to form labor unions.
At each place setting, attendees found pre-stamped postcards and pre-written letters to be sent to Arkansas' U.S. senators, Democrats Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln, who had supported the labor bill in the past. After lunch, the business owners were ushered to computers to send e-mail messages as well.
Five days later came the good news: Two Senate votes had been stripped from the pro-union bill. Lincoln said she would oppose it outright, while Pryor declared the current version "dead" and said he would look for compromises.
This is not about postcards or e-mails, or even the meaning of the word FREEDOM, it's about what business does to get what it wants. And it does some pretty damn awful stuff, not just turning wavering votes in Wal-Mart's home state against Employee Free Choice, but stuff like hiring day laborers and undocumented workers because you can pay them next to nothing and get away with it, time and time again. Or you can rob your workers of overtime or make them work off the clock.
And, none of this is new. Unbossed looked at wage theft just last year:
GAO identified case studies that show WHD [Wage and Hour Division] inadequately investigated complaints from low-wage and minimum wage workers alleging that employers failed to pay the federal minimum wage, required overtime, and failed to pay employees their last paychecks. Examples of inadequate WHD responses to complaints included instances where WHD inappropriately rejected complaints, failed to adequately investigate complaints, or neglected to investigate until it was too late. The table below provides examples of several case studies.
In the grand scheme of things, Harold Meyerson is the one who really has it right, the way things are now, it's a lovely system for businesses. There are no consequences for them to screw workers out of their wages, pay checks, benefits and even health care. Whatever they want to do, they can do, because there is no one holding them accountable, and if they get their way and are able to keep the Employee Free Choice Act from ever being passed, well, maybe I won't be the only one wondering what Freedom and Choice mean.
Seems as if the real Choice here is between the Freedom to join a union and the Freedom of businesses to continue to shove the status quo down our throats. Isn't really much of a choice, is it?