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Employee Free Choice Act

Solis Says Unions Benefit Workers

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, in a Jan. 22 statement, said the latest report makes clear why the Obama administration supports passage of the proposed Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1409, S. 560).

The bill would amend the National Labor Relations Act to give workers the option to choose union representation by signing union authorization cards and also includes language providing for binding arbitration of first contracts and increasing penalties for employers that unlawfully discharge or discriminate against employees during organizing drives.

Solis cited the report's figures showing that union-represented workers have higher earnings than those not represented. She said that “coupled with data showing that union members have access to better health care, retirement and leave benefits, these numbers make it clear that union jobs are good jobs.”

In 2009, union-represented wage and salary workers usually earned about 21 percent more per week than those who were unrepresented, in both the private sector ($845 versus $697) and government ($943 versus $782), BLS said.

“As workers across the country have seen their real and nominal wages decline as a result of the recession, these numbers show a need for Congress to pass legislation to level the playing field to enable more American workers to access the benefits of union membership,” Solis said.

“This is about what's happening to real wage earners across the country, not just unions or union membership,” AFL-CIO President Trumka said.

In response to Solis' statement, Republicans in Congress who oppose the legislation criticized the administration's approach.

“[T]he Obama Administration continues to use America's troubled economy and the ongoing plight of American workers to promote the wishes of their special interest allies,” said Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), a member of the Education and Labor Committee.

EFCA “remains a threat to job creation, and it would be irresponsible for Washington Democrats to pursue this policy,” Kline said.

Kline and other Republican committee members Jan. 20 held a forum where speakers argued that the administration's favoritism toward unions has stalled economic recovery by causing investors to withhold capital that could fund new jobs as they anticipate higher taxes and more stringent government regulations.