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January 20, 2005

Workers Win Union at Second Quebec Wal-Mart

Want to see why the Bush NLRB is trying to crush even voluntary card check recognition of unions in the United States? Look North where Quebec requires companies to recognize a union whenever a majority of workers sign cards requesting one:

Paul-Andre Lapointe of Laval University said Quebec's labour laws and courts are much more pro-union than those in the United States, where he said employers can use threats of closures or promises of wage hikes to thwart a union drive.

In Quebec, "the state and the courts have a favourable bias for unionism; the right of workers to participate in their working conditions is seen as a dimension of industrial democracy," Lapointe said.

"That's the goal of the labour code; it doesn't mean it campaigns for unions, but it gives equal rights to employees during a union drive, to balance things out."

That was the the labor law in the United States, as well, in the 1930s and 1940s until the 1947 Taft-Hartley Law ended the practice of the NLRB recognizing unions based on card checks. Instead, the best unions can do in the United States is negotiate voluntary recognition by an employer -- usually after applying other kinds of political or economic pressure on the employer just to end the usual threats and intimidation of workers under the NLRB process.

And the Bush NLRB is even trying to undermine or even outlaw that voluntary recognition process.

Over half of US workers say they would join a union if they had a real chance to do so, but current labor law makes it so dangerous that less than 10% of workers in the private sector have done so. The fact that another 40% are so terrorized that they can't act on that desire to be in a union is one of the shames of US democracy.

Posted by Nathan at January 20, 2005 07:07 AM