Schumer Bill Would Aid Unionization

September 5, 2003 ( - US Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) has introduced a bill he says will make it significantly easier for American workers to unionize.

>According to a Schumer news release, The Employee Right to Choose Act would require the federal government to recognize unions when a majority of workers in a company sign written authorizations in favor of forming a union – a process called “card check.” Only 13% of the US workforce is currently unionized, according to the senator.

“In the last several decades, employers and their lawyers have learned every trick in the book to stop unionization efforts, making it virtually impossible to organize the modern workplace,” Schumer said. “With the economy in the tank and incomes of average Americans remaining stagnant, workers need unions like never before. The idea behind this bill is to update the labor laws to ensure employees can more easily organize their workplaces.”

>The announcement said Schumer’s bill would:

  • simplify workplace organizing by replacing the current union election system
  • do away with the current delay between a union certification and an election – time pro-union forces say has traditionally been used to “union bust.” Currently, once the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has certified that sufficient interest exists to form a union, the workplace must wait 60 days before holding the election.
  • facilitate the¬†first contract negotiation by setting time limits by which parties must begin and complete their negotiation after union certification.

>According to Schumer, union membership has dropped by more than 20%, since the 1950s, leaving only 13.2% of today’s workers enrolled in unions or employee associations. These declines have been particularly striking among construction, manufacturing, transportation, and utility workers where membership has dropped by about 15% on average. While older workers are still enrolled in unions, younger workers are not joining them – only 5.9% of workers under 24 and only 12.5% of workers between 25 and 34 are in unions.