Local Politics

Groups rally for, against union-organizing bill

Posted February 17, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— North Carolina is the least-unionized state in the nation, and dozens of people rallied Tuesday outside the Legislative Building to keep that distinction.

About 3 percent of North Carolina workers are union members, while more than 12 percent of workers nationwide belong to unions.

Pro-union rally Federal bill would simplify union organizing

"There's a reason people are leaving in mass exodus places like Massachusetts and New York – heavily union states. We need to keep North Carolina with a vibrant working climate," said Dallas Woodhouse, spokesman for Americans for Prosperity, which opposes a federal bill that would make organizing unions easier.

The Employee Free Choice Act would amend federal labor laws to allow for greater use of "card checks" to form unions. Under the proposal, the National Labor Relations Board would have to certify a union without ordering a secret-ballot election if a majority of the workers in a plant signed authorization cards.

President Barack Obama supports the legislation, but critics say the bill would make it harder for workers to reject a union.

"It's not about whether we want unions," Woodhouse said. "Everyone should be free to join a union or not, but they shouldn't be coerced into joining a union by having union cards shoved in their face."

Supporters of the bill say the legislation would restore a balance of power between workers and employers.

"Workers have faced a significant level of intimidation in the workplace, and (bill opponents) want to preserve that system," said Will Cubbison, labor caucus chairman of the Young Democrats of North Carolina. "Workers needs more rights. They need better representation, and with the Employee Free Choice Act, the playing field would be leveled and they'd have a better opportunity for that."

Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr said he plans to vote against the legislation, while Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said she is in support of the bill.

“The Employee Free Choice Act simply allows employees, not the employers, to decide if and how they would like to organize at their workplace," said Dave Hoffman, Hagan's press secretary.

Hagan has met with groups on both sides of the union issue and plans to "also push for reasonable changes to the National Labor Relations Act, such as modifications to bring the procedures for decertifications in line with the process for union certifications, in order to maintain a level playing field," Hoffman said.

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  • White Eagle Feb 18, 2009

    Unions can be good in correcting bad situations but they eventually out live their usefulness. How about mandating that workers have to renew the union every 5 years instead of the unions being in a shop in perpetuity? Anyway, what's wrong with having secret ballot when voting for or against a union?

    Personally, having been forced into joining a union while in NY, I have no love for their strong arm tactics. I paid dues but they did nothing for me except reduce my take home pay. I prefer the NC rule of having the option of joining or not.

  • jsanders Feb 18, 2009

    It's interesting to hear the pro-union-harassment folks making the case AGAINST secret ballots on the grounds of freeing workers from intimidation (by companies, that is, the only kind of intimidation they care about): http://www.johnlocke.org/lockerroom/lockerroom.html?id=18984

  • alx Feb 18, 2009

    If it weren't for Unions the american car industry would not need a bail out. This is a mob led racket.

  • mep Feb 18, 2009

    With all the current labor laws, govt regulations, OSHA, and a phone book full of attorneys willing to sue employers for big bucks, the era of unions should be put to rest. Having worked for a company with union and non-union workers, all I can say is the union workers spent much more time on breaks and just plain waisting time than they did working. And they were blatant about it, knowing full well their jobs were safe. The real kicker was work done by the union workers was "billed" to my department, and the charge rate was always different even when the job was the same. I could have done the same job for 1/3 the cost, but was not allowed to do so by union contract. Death to the unions... let people actually work, fire those who will not.

  • larryhorse2008 Feb 18, 2009

    YES!!! listen to your republican overloards they know whats best for you........and there pockets!

  • NCPictures Feb 18, 2009

    Why do the union supports want to eliminate a secret vote? This is not choice, this is intimidation.

  • Your Ignorance is Bliss Feb 18, 2009

    Labor unions brought about communism /marxism in Russia.Read your history. Today in America, the left has a President who will accelerate their agenda. Socialism is here and it will be all of us who will "pay." --kopfjaeger2001

    This is not even revisionist history - this is an outright lie. Unions is what brought about the downfall of communism - starting in Poland.

  • just trying Feb 18, 2009

    I'm not a fan of unions and personally feel that with modern labor laws unions have outlived their usefulness. They tend to hinder business growth and are an expense to workers and businesses alike. However, people should have a right to make that decision and businesses should have the right to go elsewhere as result.

  • joco cruiser Feb 18, 2009

    Of cource Kay Hagen is going to vote for the bill. She doesn't know any better as to what her consitituents are wanting, just the party line.

  • 7Degrees Feb 18, 2009

    Then Teacher56, why are you here if NY and the unions are so great? Unions are terrible. More money for less work is the ultimate result of unions.

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