SEIU Expands Fight For Fair Labor Laws    Two years into his job as a security o cer in Miami’s             e study, “No H...
lies—set out to revamp the labor laws through new legisla-      worker President George W. Bush, EFCA had strong back-tion...
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Seiu expands fight for fair labor laws - SEIU continue la bataille pour des lois du travail justes

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Two years into his job as a security officer in Miami’s South Beach, always on the watch for shoplifters, pan- handlers, drunken brawlers or worse, Richard Ruiz got himself fired. Out of a job, just like that. And it was 2009, smack in the middle of the worst and biggest economic recession the United States had seen in decades. His “crime”? Talking publicly about the frustrating process he and his co-workers were going through in their as yet unsuccessful effort to form a union.

Deux ans après avoir commencé son travail comme agent de sécurité à Miami South Beach, toujours sur le qui-vive pour les voleurs à l'étalage, les mendiants, les personnes en état d'ébriété, Richard Ruiz s'est fait virer. Plus d'emploi, du jour au lendemain. De plus, c'était en 2009, au plus profond d'une des plus grosses crises économiques que les Etats-Unis a vu en des décennies. Son "crime"? Parler publiquement du processus frustrant lui et ses collègues ont traversé pour créer un syndicat qui n'avait toujours pas été formé à ce jour.

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Seiu expands fight for fair labor laws - SEIU continue la bataille pour des lois du travail justes

  1. 1. SEIU Expands Fight For Fair Labor Laws Two years into his job as a security o cer in Miami’s e study, “No Holds Barred: e Intensi cation ofSouth Beach, always on the watch for shoplifters, pan- Employer Opposition to Organizing,” examined 1,004handlers, drunken brawlers or worse, Richard Ruiz got union organizing campaigns. In 34 percent, pro-unionhimself red. workers had been red; in 47 percent, employers had made Out of a job, just like that. threats to cut wages and bene ts. And it was 2009, smack in the middle of the worst Forming unions was not prohibited in the Unitedand biggest economic recession the United States had seen States prior to 1935, but Congress took the step that yearin decades. of writing organizing and collective bargaining rights into His “crime”? Talking publicly about the frustrating law. As Harley Shaiken, a professor specializing in labor andprocess he and his co-workers were going through in their the global economy at the University of California–Berke-as yet unsuccessful e ort to form a union. ley, wrote in 2007, the Wagner Act put Congress “squarely Nearly 75 percent of his 50 or so fellow security of- on the side” of the democratic right to form unions. In fact, cers had signed union cards six months earlier. To them, the National Labor Relations Board’s original interpreta-the choice seemed clear. ey were stuck in jobs paying tion of the act was that employers were required to remain$10 an hour, with no bene ts, and they wanted something neutral in organizing campaigns. e result, Shaiken notes,better: improved wages and bene ts, and more training. was that millions of workers poured into unions. ey believed that joining together in SEIU, which repre- But in the 1940s, with the political climate shift-sents thousands of security o cers across the United States, ing, the Taft-Hartley Act was approved. Employers soonwould help them reach those goals. claimed the “free speech” right to get involved in union e immediate impact of their signing union cards, campaigns. e law also took away the NLRB’s right tohowever, was a round of intimidation, scare tactics, and certify unions without an election. is, Shaiken said,harassment from the employer. And when Ruiz spoke out “set the stage for the modern anti-union campaign.” atpublicly about the harassment, he was red. change plus Ronald Reagan’s infamous decision in 1981 to “Employers shouldn’t stop decent people from trying allow the “permanent replacement” (which is to say, ring)to have a better life, ” Ruiz said later. of striking federal air tra c controllers played a big role— But they do. Even though it is illegal under U.S. labor along with globalization, the changing economy, and otherlaws, employers do re union supporters, all the time. factors—in the long decline of labor. Ruiz is but one of thousands of workers harassed, in- By the early 2000s, fewer than 15 percent of U.S.timidated, and subjected to delaying tactics each year by workers were union members, putting a drag on wages andemployers who don’t want to see their workers join unions. bene ts for all workers, and making it increasingly hardA May 2009 study by a Cornell University labor professor for SEIU members and other union workers to hold on toshowed that, in the previous two decades, employer opposi- their hard-earned improvements.tion to union organizing had been on the increase. In 2006, SEIU—working with other unions and al-
  2. 2. lies—set out to revamp the labor laws through new legisla- worker President George W. Bush, EFCA had strong back-tion called the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). ing from President Barack Obama and Labor Secretary As the progressive organization American Rights at Hilda Solis. Testifying before Congress in early 2010, SolisWork noted, EFCA would help restore the balance between said that union workers earned $908 a week, compared toworkers and employers in organizing campaigns by: $710 for nonunion workers. “ ese numbers make it clear employers who break the law. that union jobs are good jobs,” said - Solis, a rming her support for EFCA. ees’ unions to resolve their rst Further support for labor law re- contracts through arbitration form legislation came from the White if they’re unable to successfully House Task Force on the Middle Class conclude negotiations. headed by Vice President Joe Biden in its 2010 annual report, which stated: a union through “majority sign- “ e (Obama) Administration up,” an e cient and fair process has supported the Employee Free where the NLRB certi es a union Choice Act as a way to rebalance the when a majority of employees union organizing playing eld…One sign written union authorization underappreciated reason for the nega- forms. Employees, and not em- tive trends portrayed in our economic ployers, would be able to choose analysis of middle-class families is the either the NLRB election process loss of worker bargaining power. or a majority sign-up process. “While raising the unionized share of the workforce “No workers, including healthcare givers, should face would not close the gap between income and productivity,cruelty, abuse, or ring just because we exercise our right to it would help to provide low- and middle-income workersform a union,” said Michelle Collins, a member of SEIU with some of the clout they need to claim a fairer share ofUnited Healthcare Workers West in California and one of the fruits of their labors.”the thousands of union members who took part in rallies Although opposition was loud and harsh from the big-and visited their members of Congress on behalf of EFCA. business lobby and other anti-union forces, public support In addition to strong and widespread support for EFCA was strong.from union members, EFCA had backing from some In 2009, EFCA was reintroduced and, as of 2010, wassmall business owners, students, veterans, farmers, and still awaiting action. SEIU and other backers remained de-environmentalists. termined to push through the long-overdue overhaul of the And in stark contrast to the previous years under anti- nation’s labor laws.

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