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The AFL-CIO calls for labor law reforms

Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization (“AFL-CIO“) demanded for labor law reforms in its annual convention. According to the AFL-CIO, the National Labor Relations Act falls short of fulfilling its promise to American workers in relation to collective bargaining, self-organization and other freedoms.
The organization issued a resolution advocating for the Employee Free Choice Act and stating that labor law has failed to adapt to the new needs of workers in light of the modern economy and employment relationships. The resolution specifically stated that « federal labor law no longer fits the economy, the employment relationship or the workplace and, after almost 80 years of practice, employers, aided by the Taft-Hartley amendments of 1947 and a multibillion-dollar industry of “union-avoidance” consultants, have nearly perfected the subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle exercise of the very economic power the act was designed to counterbalance to “persuade” employees to remain unrepresented.
During the convention, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka denounced that workers earn less than they did 15 years ago although they are working harder and longer hours. He proposed uniting with workers and organizations outside unions to advocate for a comprehensive labor law reform. Also, he criticized recent worker rights reforms in Wisconsin and Michigan including protections for government and agricultural workers as well as workers who lack supervisory authority, and those who have been classified as independent contractors but are not economically independent from the employers they serve.
The Employer Free Choice Act (“EFCA”) would make it easier for workers to join unions by changing the union certification process to allow workers to bargain for wages that would support an affordable family healthcare plan. The act would impose penalties on corporations who fire or intimidate workers for trying to unionize or for attempting to assist labor organizations. It was introduced in Congress on March 10, 2009, and its main purpose was to enable workers to negotiate their labor contracts and thus rectify inequality of bargaining power.

In their resolution, the AFL-CIO sets out a list of actions that should be undertaken by the State in order to improve the worker’s situation. It emphasizes the fact that all workers should have the right to organize and engage in collective bargaining. Over all the reforms should provide more fiarness to the employees and should give more space to union representatives in the workplace. They should become an essential component of the working environment. The reforms also adovcates for more educated employees so that employees know their right under the applicable law.

According to the resolution, « labor law reform should remedy employers’ increasingly sophisticated and well-funded evasion of the intent of the original act to redress “inequality of bargaining power” and also the growing misfit between the NLRA and the modern economy and employment relationship. The reforms should speak to the critical place of labor organizations and collective bargaining in redressing growing income inequality and the resulting imbalance in our political system. »

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