Ray Marshall, secretary of labor from 1977 to 1981, and Robert Reich, secretary of labor from 1993 to 1997, have borne witness to a big shift in the economy and the power of workers over past decades. They’ve seen an economy weakened by inequality, corporate greed and the decreasing ability of workers to bargain for their fair share—and they know now is the time to change that.
In Sunday’s Chicago Tribune, Reich and Marshall explain clearly why we need the Employee Free Choice Act, which would level the playing field for workers seeking to join unions and create an economy that works for everyone. Economic recovery starts by giving workers the tools they need to get fair wages, better benefits and economic security, say the two former labor secretaries:
A vital component of our nation’s recovery is making sure that we don’t return to a bubble-and-bust economy, where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle class gets squeezed…the economy we are rebuilding must be a sustainable one. That starts with good-paying, secure jobs.
Long-term economic growth requires consumers to have the purchasing power necessary to buy the goods and services small and large businesses provide.
Lessons of history, Marshall and Reich say, show that when workers have the ability to bargain for a better life, everyone—workers, communities and businesses alike—benefits:
We must reform our obsolete labor laws so workers can join unions without the roadblocks so many face.
The principles that are the foundation of the Employee Free Choice Act—giving workers a direct path to form unions, toughening penalties against employers who break the law and helping workers secure a first contract in a reasonable period of time—are ones we must never waiver on.
Read the whole thing here.