The Employee Free Choice Act would increase penalties for employers using illegal union busting tactics, allow workers to decide how to demonstrate majority support for a union, and make binding arbitration an option if contract negotiations stalemate.
Religious leaders of various faiths are speaking out in support of the bill, with an appeal to lawmakers’ consciences that focuses on the ethical and social ramifications of the labor reforms proposed in EFCA.
“It may not grab many headlines, but EFCA is emerging as one of the major moral issues of 2009,” writes Fr. Thomas Massaro in America, a national Catholic weekly.
Sojourners editor Jim Wallis argued for the bill before a Senate committee: “Increasingly the church is uniting against poverty across political and theological differences. This growing consensus emerging across the faith community recognizes that one in eight families living below the poverty line tests our faith and civic values…The Employee Free Choice Act represents a critical way to promote the dignity of work and promote the common good.
Faith Works, the newsletter of Interfaith Worker Justice, compiled excerpts of letters in support of EFCA from religious leaders (registration required). In one, Rabbi Robert Marx writes, “It is not always easy to translate the very sanctity of labor into terms that have meaning in our times, times in which the market place seems to have been elevated above all other holy altars. The Employee Free Choice Act presents an opportunity to give concrete meaning to the often frustrated dream of a just society.”
Massaro concludes, “A reform of federal labor law is hardly riveting to most people, but a great deal is at stake in getting this particular issue right. The way workers are treated is above all an ethical question, involving notions like equity and human rights, not merely a technical legal question involving bureaucratic procedures.”