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Unions a necessity

Letter to the Editor | Monday, March 30, 2009

For decades, collective bargaining has been one of the most basic tools that workers can employ to gain a voice and power in the face of injustice. Not only do unions have historical legitimacy, but the Catholic Church, The United Nations, and Federal Law all support workers’ right to unionize. In order to build a stronger labor movement, however, those interested in economic justice for all should support the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). This would allow workers who want a union to bypass the election process and instead sign cards indicating their desire for union representation. This change is vital because in the current system, workers have to wait for months between petitioning of the NLRB for an election and the actual voting process. During this time, employers hire anti-union consulting firms, hold captive-audience meetings, and even fire employees to intimidate others into voting against the union. EFCA would level the playing field and, in the words of David Foster of the Blue-Green Alliance, (who spoke on campus last week) “give fairness a fighting chance.”

We at Notre Dame should stand in support of workers struggling to organize and form a union. From the HEI hotel workers in California to the building service workers here working at Notre Dame, people across the country are fighting for respect on the job and for the right to organize. We can stand publicly in support of the right to collective bargaining by signing a petition in support of EFCA (available at freechoiceact.org). We should strive to be a campus that does not merely promote an atmosphere full of respect and absent of fear, but also one that actively celebrates the right to organize and empowers workers to challenge their employer to be the best it can be. Let us join with other campuses around the country, which are holding rallies and teach-ins as part of Student Labor Action Week, and make our voice heard in support of EFCA and workers’ rights.

Sarah Lyons

senior

off campus

March 29