Tag Archives: LA City Council

L.A. City Council Endorses The Employee Free Choice Act

(Always nice to see Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti stop by. – promoted by Dante Atkins (hekebolos))

(originally posted at my blog)

I recently sponsored a resolution in the Los Angeles City Council to express support for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and I am proud to report that on April 28th, the resolution passed the council 13-1.

EFCA, when it becomes law, will make joining a union easier for millions of Americans, a necessity if we are to raise workers’ wages, ensure healthcare coverage for all and rebuild the middle class. The case for it is clear, which makes it all the more frustrating that the bill appears stalled in the US Senate.

As our resolution states, in part:

WHEREAS, the free choice to join with others and bargain for better wages and benefits is essential to economic opportunity and good living standards; and

WHEREAS, unions benefit communities by strengthening living standards, stabilizing tax bases, promoting equal treatment and enhancing civic participation; and

WHEREAS, states in which more people are union members are states with higher wages, better benefits and better schools; and

WHEREAS, union workers receive better wages and benefits, with union workers earning 29 percent more than workers without a union, 35 percent more likely to have access to health insurance and four times more likely to have access to a guaranteed defined-benefit pension; and

WHEREAS, unions help raise workers’ pay and narrow the income gap for minorities and women by increasing median weekly earnings by 31 percent for union women workers, 31 percent for African-American workers, 50 percent for Latino workers and 9 percent for Asian American workers…

It concludes:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, with the concurrence of the Mayor, that by the adoption of this Resolution, the City of Los Angeles hereby includes in its 2009-2010 Federal Legislative Program SUPPORT of HR 1409/S 560, the Employee Free Choice Act of 2009, which would restore workers’ freedom to join a union and, more specifically, amend the National Labor Relations Act to establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, authorize the National Labor Relations Board to certify a union as the bargaining representative when a majority of employees-voluntarily sign authorizations designating that union to represent them, provide for first contract mediation and arbitration, and establish meaningful penalties for violations of a worker’s freedom to choose a union.

My grandfather on my mom’s side owned a union factory, and like Henry Ford, he understood the importance of decent wages and benefits for his employees. During my tenure on the Los Angeles City Council, time and time again, we’ve seen the widespread benefits of unionization. It’s true that a rising tide can lift all ships and unionization is that rising tide.

Take the fight to unionize L.A. security officers. While the business community was convinced they’d be irreparably harmed by the unionization of these workers, on the contrary, they are thriving, the security officers have better wages and benefits AND Los Angeles is a more secure city as a result. By paying a wage that allows workers to actually support a family, there is lower turnover, the applicants are better trained, emergency response times are faster and as a result our downtown highrises are safer and more secure.

I believe that it is incumbent upon cities – as centers of progressivism, as hubs of social change and, let’s face it, where the people live – to exert whatever pressure we can bring to bear on our leaders to do the right thing. While this resolution is strictly symbolic, I believe it sends a strong message not only to the elected leaders in California but to other local governing bodies around the country to step up and fight for progressive change. It’s like our president said during his historic run for the White House: real change can only come from the bottom up. Well here we are at the bottom urging those at the top to do what’s right and pass the Employee Free Choice Act.