by Max Brantley
Sen. Blanche Lincoln may not be ready to get behind Employee Free Choice, but one elected representative is. That would be state Rep. Lindsley Smith of Fayetteville, at left in photo, at a demonstration by academic employees in favor of the act. Her husband, UA prof Steve Smith, himself a former legislator and Clinton gubernatorial aide, smiling at right rear in the photo, provides on the jump a great deal of what's been lacking from most news and editorial coverage of the issue. It's a letter he wrote to another reporter, shared with us.
It cites studies and reports that show even more definitively what you already know. Coercion is almost entirely the province of management, not labor. Employers want no change in a process that allows them to stonewall union negotiation. Under current law, workers have little recourse.
Don't look for this to appear in the opinion pages of a daily newspaper in these parts any time soon.
STEVE SMITH LETTER
I enjoyed talking with you this afternoon during the news conference held by Academics for Employee Free Choice. As I said, as teachers, scholars, and research scientists from both public and private higher education institutions across Arkansas, we believe that public policy decisions should be informed by facts. Unfortunately, the current debate on enactment of the Employee Free Choice Act has been distorted by unsupported assertions that ignore the available empirical evidence.
Attached are copies of two recent studies that directly touch on arguments being made in the national debate. The first refutes the claim that the current process is working and documents increasing employer hostility to organizing efforts (No Holds Barred). The second is a survey of four states where majority sign-up is working, and it found no instances of intimidation by either employers or unions (Majority Authorization and Union Organizing in the Public Sector). "In brief, from 2003-2009 in the states studied, a total of 34,148 public sector workers employed in state, county, municipal and educational institutions voluntarily joined a union. Most importantly, contrary to business claims, in 1,073 cases of union certification and in at least 1,359 majority-authorization campaigns, there was not a single confirmed incident of union misconduct". We hope that Senator Pryor and Senator Lincoln will take the time to review these studies and become better informed by the facts.
In addition, I have included the recent article from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that points out another failure of the current process that can be remedied by the Employee Free Choice Act. Even when employees vote for union representation under current NLRB rules, there is no requirement that employers negotiate in good faith or in a timely manner. Following the article is a timeline documenting the history of one corporate employer that refused to meet with employees for over nine years, and only did so after being ordered to do so by the courts and a long, unnecessary, and expensive legal battle. EFCA would encourage more timely good faith negotiation to avoid arbitration.
Also attached is a copy of the letter from Academics for Employee Free Choice to Senators Pryor and Lincoln. It is signed by more than 40 academics from across Arkansas, including 18 at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. It clearly explains the reasons why we support enactment of the Employee Free Choice Act to make sure that the economic recovery includes everyone and allows working families to share in the American Dream of a better life for themselves and their children.
Finally, I have included a photo of the six UA academics from the J William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences who attended our news conference today. I provide that information only for identification purposes, and in no way do these academic affiliations indicate a position taken by the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas.