The nation’s labor laws are broken and need to be fixed. The basic labor law–the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)–was intended to protect workers’ rights to organize and join unions and bargain with their employers for better pay, benefits, and working conditions. But it has been distorted by decades of hostile amendments, lax enforcement, and corporate tactics that bend or break the law.
Originally, the NLRA encouraged workers to form unions freely without interference by the employers who control their livelihoods. But now, elections administered by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) offer overwhelming advantages to anti-union employers. These companies can campaign on their premises, while workers who support the union cannot campaign on the worksites.
During these anti-union campaigns, employers routinely intimidate, harass, coerce, and even fire employees who support unions-and a weakened NLRB and watered-down labor laws can do little or nothing to stop them. In the event that workers succeed in voting to be represented by a union, companies can delay negotiations for the first union contract by challenging the results and then refusing to bargain in good faith, and existing labor laws are powerless to stop these stalling tactics.
A bill to be introduced in Congress with broad Democratic support, called the Employee Free Choice Act, would help restore balance to the labor market by making it easier for workers to form a union, and harder for employers to use illegal tactics to fight such an effort. EPI has prepared 15 questions and answers to help explain the need for the new law, and how it would work.