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Viewpoint: It's time to put 'power-hungry' EFCA to bed

Must we sacrifice our individual rights in order to please or pit one group over another?

It's imperative we seek fairness, balance and the protection of workers' individual rights for the goodness of our workplace, community and national republic.

I fear for the employee who is left in the crossfire between union leaders and business owners. The Employee Free Choice Act puts the American worker exactly in this dangerous position.

As EFCA strives to shift unjustifiable power to one bargaining group, it squeezes out responsible measures for healthy labor relationships, ultimately harming both the businesses and its employees.

Understanding historical reasons for unions is essential in weighing if EFCA is necessary. But, acknowledging the changes in our legal system and government landscape gives greater perspective as to why EFCA isn't needed and will only curtail labor relation progress.

This unnecessary stress on the workplace is especially unwise in this economic recession and will have a negative impact on union leaders, laborers and business owners alike.

Since the birth of unions through the Wagner Act of 1939, and the amendment under the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, government agencies were started to enforce various employment laws that have made much of the union's role obsolete.

In fact, the reasons for decline in unionization are partly due to these laws: the Equal Pay Act; the Fair Labor Standards Act; the Occupational Safety and Health Act; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; The Medical Leave Act and more.

Secondly, the decline of U.S. industry, growth of global competition, and deregulation are also factors explaining why unions are struggling to form or keep members; unions must now work harder to convince workers of their role and effectiveness.

Lastly, some major unions are notably less organized and therefore have lost their ability to apply successfully for new union contracts or keep affiliations with each other strong.

So, history has its place in defending unions; however, the present factors offer a new understanding as to why some unions are worried.

Enacting a law that gives unfair advantage to these struggling unions over the worker and employer, in both elections and collective bargaining, will put them in the position that unions often accuse business owners of: being the aggressors.

EFCA does not correct any wrongdoing in the workplace. There is no basis to override the National Labor Relations Act unless one believes that the natural decline of unionization is reason for government assistance and unfair practices for recruiting new members, even if the employees don't want the union.

EFCA would strip the ability of a business to manage the direction of their company. Unfortunately, the automotive industry is a sad example of how a poor business model influenced by an abusive union fails miserably together. EFCA will guarantee more problems like those in Detroit.

EFCA includes a mandatory-arbitration provision, which will allow a government appointed arbitrator to make binding decisions, dictating terms to both companies and their employees.

Could you imagine the workplace when complex issues like wage rates, retirement benefits, subcontracting rights, work assignments, work hours and medical benefits aren't jointly agreed upon?

Lastly, the all-American way to promote valuable ideas and individual rights, elections, would cease in many cases. Not having a secret ballot or right to an election will create one protected group, resulting in unfair labor practices and forced membership.

Moreover, aggressive employer conduct is already unlawful. Yet, some workers are accusing unions of being more aggressive as they become desperate to keep members and acquire new contracts.

Employees say unions use forceful tactics to get union cards signed. Union agents argue with employees about the merits of unions and court them while off the job.

Some union agents are even known to fill out cards for their colleagues without consent or watch over them while they sign cards. These complaints are the underpinning of recent polls that shows the majority of union members oppose eliminating secret ballots.

If workers want to join the union they should, if they don't want to their government shouldn't forcibly make them through unfair laws.

The question is not whether unions should exist or not. This is not the intent of EFCA. (Ms. Denn cleverly and mistakenly suggested this was the issue in her March 25 Viewpoint against Michele Bachmann.)

Instead, let's challenge ourselves to stay on point. If unions stay professional and organized they have a rightful place in labor relations.

But, we should agree that the law must protect all workers no matter what the position -- blue collar or white collar. Healthy negotiations cannot survive with EFCA in place.

In fact, it is counterproductive and the politics will destroy any goodwill shared between the negotiating parties.

Regardless of whether one believes which group is the aggressor, business owners or union agents; the worker is always the loser.

According to University of Chicago' Law School Professor Richard Epstein, if EFCA passes, the employers will rightfully defend themselves under the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment.

If the Democrat legislators are successful in passing this act, it will force companies to lay off employees and hire less. How does this help the union, business owner or worker?

Joyce Denn was correct about one thing -- Michele Bachmann is not looking out for the unions. She is looking out for the American worker.

Our federal government shouldn't be more concerned with the union organization than it is with the individual worker. As a former member of a teachers union, I appreciate that position as much as I appreciate my own NEA or AFT unions.

Let's put this power-hungry ECFA to bed and, instead, rise up together for a stronger American workforce.

Marisa Novak is a resident of Woodbury.