David Moberg assesses the drastic toll of the Bush years on working people, and offers an optimistic take on what a Kerry administration could mean: In contrast, Sen. John Kerry has promised to support and sign the Employee Free Choice Act. The act would require the NLRB to certify a union as bargaining agent if a majority of workers sign authorization cards, as well as to impose injunctions and fines if management attempts to prevent workers from joining a union, and to provide mediation and arbitration if bargaining does not promptly produce a first contract. Currently, 31 senators and 205 representatives are co-sponsors of the legislation, which is a top legislative priority for organized labor. In June unions collected and sent more than a million postcards supporting the legislation to Kerry and Bush. The act could provide an enormous boost to labor, especially since a growing number of unions are primed to expand their organizing efforts, and their success is crucial not just for the labor movement but progressive politics as a whole. “Giving workers the real, unfettered right to form their own unions will do more for rebuilding the labor movement and fueling progressive movements and legislation than almost any single other legislative act you could imagine,” Acuff says. Despite some progressives’ reservations about Kerry, he has committed himself to a wide swath of labor’s agenda, such as reversing Bush’s tax cuts for those with incomes greater than $200,000, protecting Social Security and Medicare while expanding access to health insurance, raising the minimum wage, eliminating tax incentives to move jobs overseas, reviewing existing trade agreements, and incorporating labor and environmental protections in future agreements. But from organized labor’s perspective, the key contrast in the presidential race is that a second Bush administration is likely to further reduce workers’ right to organize, and Kerry has pledged to expand that right. And it’s a key contrast not only for unions, but for the future of any progressive politics.


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