Indiana AFL-CIO Employee Free Choice Act Web Site
Read More at the Bloomington Alternative
Employee Free Choice Act Resolution (8-10-07)
Protesters gather outside Chamber to support Employee Free Choice Act Important Note: IBEW Local 725 would like to thank Andy Ruff and Isabel Piedmont-Smith Bloomington City Council representatives, who attended the rally and spoke in support of the Employee Free Choice Act and against the position taken by Bloomington Chamber of Commerce. Please take a minute to thank them by phone or e-mail here:
Andy Ruff - Council President & At-Large Representative
(W) (812) 349-3409
Isabel-Piedmont Smith - Vice-President & District V Representative
(W) (812) 349-3409
By J.J. Alcantara June 19, 2009
www.HeraldTimesOnline.com - Bloomington, IN
With signs saying “Tell the Chamber of Commerce STOP the lies!” and “Workers’ rights ARE human rights,” about 30 people gathered in front of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce’s building today to decry the Chamber’s stance on the Employee Free Choice Act.
Peter Kaczmarczyk, South Central Indiana Jobs with Justice spokesman, said the act is an important piece of legislation for rebuilding the middle class in the economy, which is “long overdue.”
Christy Gillenwater, president and CEO of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber has come out opposing the legislation, and it was important for the Chamber to speak out with issues relating to the removal of an employees’ right to a private vote.
“We recognize the important role unions play in business,” Gillenwater said. “But we need to uphold the privacy of employees’ right to vote.”
Tom Szymanski, organizer and business representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said the act will not get rid of the private vote.
“That is propaganda they are putting out there to scare the public; to scare employees,” Szymanski said. “The only thing this act does is it adds another option for workers to select a union using new methods.”
Gillenwater said the issue is a controversial one, and the Chamber has been working to educate the public and its members about what the act will do.
The Employee Free Choice Act, or House Bill 1409, will amend the National Labor Relations Act to require the National Labor Relations Board to certify a bargaining representative without directing an election with the purpose of organizing a union. Employees will be given the right to designate an individual to represent them when negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with an employer.
The act will also penalize employers if they fire or threaten to fire an employee for wanting to join a union. Consequences include back pay with damages and civil penalties.
Kaczmarczyk said he wants people to be aware the rally is not meant to be anti-business. “This is not an anti-business bill,” Kaczmarczyk said. “This is a bill to level the playing field and to rebuild the middle class.”
Bloomington City Council President Andy Ruff showed up at the rally. “Labor has been weakened and assaulted for decades,” Ruff said. “This Employee Free Choice Act is just a very modest piece of legislation to get us back on track and restore some balance in this country.”
“Our local Chamber of Commerce is made of caring, community-minded people,” Ruff said. “Why they’re blindly accepting the misinformation — the incorrect position — of larger organizations ... is beyond me.”
Gillenwater said the Chamber is “pro-business as we believe unions to be.”
“We respect their right to voice their opinion, and, hopefully, they will respect our right to have a position as well,” she said.
The act, which was sponsored by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., has been referred to the House subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions.
Daily Local News - June 19, 2009
Click here to go to WFHB's sight and click on the speaker "play" icon to listen, or download the file below.
The pro-union activist group Jobs with Justice stages a picket line in front of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce in support of the Employee Free Choice Act and in protest of the Chamber’s lobbying against it. This bill is currently before both houses of Congress and would reform crucial elements of labor law regarding how unions are formed. The Bloomington Chamber joined a delegation four states on a lobbying jaunt to Washington early this month, to urge lawmakers like Senator Evan Bayh to vote against the bill. This move has drawn the ire of union bosses like Jackie Yenna of the White River Central Labor Council. Yenna played host on the picket line today, introducing guest speakers Isabel Piedmont and Andy Ruff, who both currently serve on the Bloomington city council. We’ll then follow IU support staff union leader Peter Kaczmarczyk into the chamber offices, where chamber employee Morgan Hutton asks him to leave. News director Chad Carrothers is allowed to stay to get a response from chamber director Christy Gillenwater.
At the annual NLRB Region 25 and Indiana University School of Law Labor-Management Relations Conference held in Indianapolis, the opening session provided a debate on the Employee Free Choice Act from two perspectives. The AFL-CIO, represented by Stewart Acuff, won the debate based simply on the facts. A philosophical position by the national Chamber of Commerce doesn't change the fact that thousands of workers are denied their legal rights under labor law.
You will hear Randy Johnson comment that unions are no longer relevant and no longer needed. Watch for yourself and you make the call.
Thanks to Robert Pedersen (UAW)for taping the event and getting me a DVD copy so quickly. Also, thanks to Tom Szymanski (IBEW 725) for help with WFHB Radio recordings in Bloomington.
Below are links to the debate on May 15, 2009 in Indianapolis between AFL-CIO Organing Director Stewart Acuff and Chamber of Commerce Vice-President Randy Johnson.
IUPUI-NLRB Region 25 Seminar Debate on YouTube:
Q & A
Pictures from the Debate