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American labor union membership is at historic lows. Union leaders, and no small number of economists, say that’s part of the reason American wealth has become so heavily tilted to the top — part of the reason for the Gilded Age and economic bust cycle were suffering today.
Now, unions are pushing hard for new legislation that would make it easier for employees to unionize. It’s called the Employee Free Choice Act — better known as “card check.” It would allow workers to unionize without a secret ballot, and would force companies to negotiate quickly with those unions or face government intervention.
Employers are fighting back very hard on Capitol Hill. A tiny swing vote in the U.S. Senate is poised to decide the issue. It’s a battle royal.
This hour, On Point: Unions, “card check,” and the battle over American labor.
You can join the conversation. Which side are you lining up on? Stronger unions, or status quo? Have you seen problems with how it works now? At this economic moment, does America need a union surge? Would “card check” bring it?Guests:
Joining us from New York is Steven Greenhouse, labor and workplace reporter for The New York Times and author of "The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker." He has recently written about what the Employee Free Choice Act means for the American labor movement.
From Washington, we're joined by Steven Law, general counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He was deputy secretary of labor under President George W. Bush. See the Chamber's position on the "card check" bill.
Also from Washington is Bill Samuel, legislative director for the AFL-CIO. Read its position on the "card check" bill.
This program aired on March 12, 2009.
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