As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

All In The Framing

The latest Gallup poll shows majority support for "a new law that would make it easier for labor unions to organize workers." That aptly describes the Employee Free Choice Act. The latest Rasmussen poll shows majority support for "a vote by secret ballot if workers want to form a union." That aptly describes the Republican fearmongering spin on the Employee Free Choice Act. These results are not necessarily contradictory. What matters is which description of the law predoiminates. What will help the union side is this nugget from the Rasmussen poll.

At the same time, most Americans (57%) believe it is at least somewhat difficult for workers to form a union. Just 19% say it is not difficult to form a union.

Americans know that corporations will fight their own employee's right to organize. What they may not know is how employers use illegal tactics in that fight. This is a key message to use so that people understand the need for changes in labor law.

As for the argument that the struggling economy means that employees can't be allowed to organize, Tom Harkin dispenses with that.

The bill's supporters are pointing to the downturn as the ultimate proof of their arguments that labor's decline has helped put the economy out of balance and that only by restoring workers' purchasing power can the nation return to broadly shared prosperity.

"In 1935, we passed the Wagner Act that promoted unionization and allowed unions to flourish, and at the time we were at around 20 percent unemployment. So tell me again why we can't do this in a recession?" said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), invoking the pro-labor changes of the New Deal. "This is the time to do it. This is exactly the time we should be insisting on a fairer playing field for people to organize themselves."

The economic crisis is at least in part a wage crisis. Wage stagnation has made it impossible for consumers to continue spending at current levels, necessitating the need for cheaper credit and more options for consumers to acquire cheap money, leading to homeowners using their homes as an ATM machine, etc. Grow wages and you grow the economy. Grow unions and you grow wages.

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