An idea that could revolutionize workers’ rights in the country: from Tom Geoghegan via David Sirota:
eoghegan reminded me that data show the more union members in an economy, the better workers’ pay. The problem, he said, is that weakened labor laws are allowing companies to bully and fire union-sympathetic workers, thus driving down union membership and wages.Enter Geoghegan’s six words. If the Civil Rights Act was amended to prevent discrimination “on the basis of union membership,” it would curtail corporations’ anti-labor assault by making the right to join a union an official civil right.”Hang on,” I interrupted. “Joining a union isn’t a civil right?”Correct.Under current law, if you are fired for union activity, you can only take your grievance to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) – a byzantine agency deliberately made more Kafkaesque by right-wing appointees and budget cuts. Today, the NLRB takes years to rule on labor law violations, often granting victims only their back pay – a tiny cost of doing business.Union leaders are now focused on reforming the NLRB – an admirable goal – but Geoghegan’s plan implies that workers are harmed by being legally leashed to Washington in the first place. His proposal says rather than being forced to rely on an unreliable bureaucracy for protection, workers should be empowered to defend themselves.The six words would do just that. Regardless of whether the NLRB is strengthened or further weakened, persecuted workers would be able to haul union-busting thugs into court. There – unlike at the NLRB – plaintiffs can subpoena company records and win costly punitive damages.