LaborTalk for March 10, 2012

Union Members Should Vote for Candidates
Who Support a Federal Law on Worker Rights
Push for a Law to Guarantee the Right to Join Unions and Bargain

By Harry Kelber

In the 2012 presidential elections, the nation's unions have an opportunity to remedy a gross injustice to American workers. While our society permits bankers, industrialists, lawyers, and politicians to form their own organizations for their own benefit, working people face intimidating obstacles when they try to form or join a union to improve their lives.

Why should workers be subjected to harassment and possible loss of jobs, if they so much as dare to talk about joining a union? Why does our government do so little to punish violators of worker rights?

Republican governors and their state legislatures are enacting dozens of anti-labor laws, whose aim is to destroy or cripple unions. If they succeed in destroying unions, who will defend working people?

American labor should use the 2012 elections to launch a massive nationwide campaign to guarantee that workers will have the same basic rights as those accorded to other segments of the population

Ask Every Candidate to Sign the Petition on Worker Rights

The AFL-CIO should prepare a petition listing these rights, and request that every Republican, Democratic and independent candidate be asked to sign it. Unions should distribute tons of literature to explain why workers, like everyone else, are entitled to certain fundamental rights.

It should be obvious that, if the AFL-CIO wants to advance from its weakened and defensive position, it will have to start recruiting tens of thousands of unorganized workers. By winning a federal law guaranteeing workers' rights to organize without intimidation, it will be enlarging the pool of potential union members.

The AFL-CIO and its union affiliates will be spending hundred of millions of dollars to elect Barack Obama to a second term as president. It would be considered a great victory if the Democrats regained control of both houses of Congress. But will that increase union membership or strengthen their bargaining power?

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By pressing for a federal law that guarantees worker rights, the AFL-CIO will be providing an example of independent labor action. Can we allow workers to be treated like second-class citizens in terms of basic rights?

Isn't it time that we really fought for the rights of all workers, as many unions around the world are doing, despite heavy odds?

LaborTalk will be posted here on March 12, 2012 and on our two web sites and on

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