The nation's labor unions have begun a new campaign to get President-Elect Barrack Obama and Congress to pass legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize.
The A.F.L.-C.I.O. and Change to Win, the rival labor federation, campaigned all out for Mr. Obama, with labor leaders saying that unions and their political action committees spent nearly $450 million during the race and in the last four days of the campaign, 250,000 volunteers from A.F.L.-C.I.O. unions made 5.5 million phone calls and visited 3.9 million union households. All told, he said, unions reached out to more than 13 million voters in 24 states, with some undecided union members being contacted more than 30 times through phone calls, household visits and workplace conversations
Another goal of the labor union was to help the Democrats to capture 60 Senate seats to overcome a Republican filibuster against the card-check bill, which the House approved last year.
Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, said that it will be their major priority in the short and long term to get the economy working for Americans who work.
Labor’s No.1 priority is to get legislation passed that would allow employees to unionize easier through a piece of legislation called the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as the card-check bill. The bill would give workers the right to join a union as soon as a majority of employees at a workplace signed cards saying they wanted one. The bill would also deny the employers rights to demand a secret-ballot election that would allow employees to vote with anonymity that helps protect them from targeted pressure on those that voted against the unionization of the company.
Corporate America and business groups have already declared war on labor Union’s push for new legislation that would help unions organize and lessen their power in the process of being unionized or not.
Union membership has slid down to 7.5% of the private-sector work force. That is one third of what the rate was in 1983. Labor unions are hoping that if the bill passes they will be able to add at least five million workers to their membership over the next few years.
Mr. Sweeney, who is the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s president, said labor unions were eager for a stimulus program to jump-start the economy and to help those hurt by the downturn. He called for extending unemployment benefits, increasing financing for food stamps, approving a rescue plan for Detroit’s automakers and immediately spending more on rebuilding roads, bridges and schools.