Unions support signing bill

Orgs endorse Employee Free Choice Act

Showbiz labor unions have announced support for a bill to allow workers to form unions by signing up instead of voting.

AFTRA, DGA, SAG and both branches of the WGA announced Tuesday an endorsement of the Employee Free Choice Act, requiring employers to recognize unions after a majority of workers have signed pro-union cards or a petition.

The Bush administration and much of corporate America is opposing the measure; VP Dick Cheney has said President Bush will veto the bill and asserted that secret ballots are needed to prevent intimidation of workers.

Current law allows employers to require a government-supervised election after workers sign up in support of unionizing. But backers of the legislation contend the current election process is unfair because elections often take several months, employers often fire workers illegally prior to the election and union organizers can be denied access to the workplace while workers can be required to attend anti-union meetings.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and 46 co-sponsors recently introduced the bill in the Senate, which is set to take up debate on it on Wednesday. The House passed the legislation 241-185 on March 1.

The five unions said Tuesday that they “strongly support” the bill, adding, “This legislation would ensure that workers are allowed a free choice and a fair chance to form a union by leveling the playing field with employers. An affirmative Senate vote will send a strong signal that organized labor is winning the fight on union rights.”

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