March 8, 2007

I heart Barbara Ehrenreich

She answers George Will's sudden "concern" for workers' privacy as it relates to The Employee Free Choice Act.

. . . OK, now let’s leave Will-land and enter an actual American workplace. Are you punched in? Good. The first thing to notice is that you’ve checked your basic civil rights at the door. Freedom of speech? Forget about it: Some employers bar speech of any kind with your fellow employees. I saw this firsthand at a chain restaurant and a Wal-Mart store. Wanna work? Zip your lips.

How about those privacy rights that Will so concerned about? Nada – they don’t exist outside of Will-land either. You probably had to pee in a cup to get your job in the first place, which constitutes a very intimate chemical invasion of privacy. In most states, your purse or backpack can be searched by the employer at any time; your emails and web activity can be monitored.

Right of assembly? Sorry, you don’t have that either. In my experience, most managers see a group of three or more employees talking together as an insurrection in the making. Shut up and get back to work!

The Employee Free Choice Act would require employers to recognize a union whenever a majority of workers sign union cards – thus bypassing the often prolonged and creaky process of an NLRB-supervised secret ballot election. The longer the delay before the election, the more time management has to intimidate, isolate, and harass the union’s supporters.

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