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New Study: You Won’t Face Coercion if You Sign up for a Union

(Cross-posted from the AFL-CIO Now Blog.)

If you sign up to join a union, you won’t face coercion or intimidation from your co-workers—or employers. Despite dire warnings by corporations against the majority sign-up process, a new study shows majority sign-up (card-check) protects workers and gives them the chance they need to form a union. It’s another critical point in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would give workers across the country the choice about how to form a union and bargain for a better life.

The study, “Majority Authorizations and Union Organizing in the Public Sector: A Four-State Perspective,” written by top labor policy scholars under the direction of Robert Bruno of the University of Illinois, looks at the experience of four states (New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Oregon) where public-sector workers have the freedom to form unions through majority sign-up. If passed, the Employee Free Choice Act would give millions of workers the option of using either majority sign-up or a National Labor Relations Board election to form a union.

The study finds that since 2003, more than 34,000 public-sector workers have successfully formed unions through majority sign-up, without either coercion from their employers or their co-workers.

The study unambiguously revealed that the majority sign-up provision was used extensively without hint of union or employer abuse…contrary to business claims, in 1,073 cases of union certification and in at least 1,359 majority-authorization campaigns, there was not a single confirmed incident of union misconduct.

Workers who successfully used majority sign-up included nurses, nuclear safety policy analysts, custodians and others across a variety of job sectors.

The experience of these workers is a sharp contrast to workers trying to form unions under the broken private-sector system, where management controls the process and can interfere with impunity. In 2007 alone, nearly 30,000 workers were the victims of unfair practices or even illegal firings while trying to form unions.

Scholars at four universities participated in the study: the University of Illinois, Rutgers University, Cornell University and the University of Oregon. It’s an extension of Bruno’s earlier study that looked at majority sign-up in Illinois.

The researchers conclude:

New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Oregon have demonstrated that a majority authorization petition can genuinely determine the will of the employees to be unionized and provides a functional, largely non-adversarial and event-less process for insuring a fair work environment for everyone.

Workers need the freedom to form unions and bargain to get a fair share of the prosperity they create. It’s good for workers and it’s good for the economy. This landmark study demonstrates once again that workers—not their bosses—should get to choose how to form a union.

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