- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 21, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

I was disappointed by Sen. Jim DeMint’s Thursday Op-Ed column, “Un-American activities,” which seeks to mislead the public about the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and the contributions of America’s labor unions.

The senator portrayed EFCA as an attempt to undermine a worker’s ability to vote by secret ballot, but the truth is that corporations often use their vast economic might to undermine workers’ attempts to unionize with coercion and manipulative campaigns. Companies threaten to close factories and move overseas when workers try to unionize, and workers who try to unionize are often fired.

I recently heard author Barbara Ehrenreich speak, and she noted that when she was working at Wal-Mart as part of her research for her book “Nickel and Dimed,” workers were not allowed to talk about unions on company property. When giant corporations trample upon an individual’s basic right to free speech, it is time for Congress to protect workers with a legislative remedy. EFCA allows workers to express their desire to join a union by signing a card. Is there anything inherently unfair about that? Secret ballots are not needed when a majority of workers have expressed a desire to join the union.

Mr. DeMint went out of his way to deride the contributions of unions to America. In 1899, when the National Consumers League began, it was not uncommon for workers to labor 80 hours a week. Child labor was rampant. We owe our weekends and vacations to the labor movement.

REID MAKI



National Consumers League

Washington

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