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Tuesday, November 12

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The Mechanics
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Labor & Worker Rights Wed Jan 28 2009

EFCA In Chicago

NPR's Chip Mitchell looks at the potential impact of the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would finally protect American workers' right to organize -- a right defined as protected by the United Nations, but which is practically lacking in this country.

Ask a union organizer named Dave Webster what he thinks of the Employee Free Choice Act, and he'll take you here to Chicago's South Side.

WEBSTER: Right now we're standing in front of the Comcast location in the historic Pullman district. We're at the East Gate, where the majority of the workers pull out in the morning after coming in to get their trucks and tools and stuff.

Webster works for Local 21 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Last year the union targeted the building's 200 technicians, warehouse workers and payment agents.

WEBSTER: We spent many hours here, handing out leaflets, talking to workers...

...and convincing many of them to sign cards saying they wanted the union to negotiate their wages, benefits and work conditions.

Comcast didn't recognize the union. That led the National Labor Relations Board to hold an election to see what the workers wanted. The balloting didn't happen for almost six weeks. Webster says the company took advantage of that lag.

WEBSTER: Comcast would plant supervisors to stand out here and watch which workers were taking the flyers, which workers were talking to organizers and basically scare them with their job so that they wouldn't talk to union organizers.

The union lost the election by 20 votes. Comcast declined to speak with WBEZ about the union's accusations.

The Chicago Federation of Labor and the Illinois AFL-CIO are hosting a rally in support of this basic human right.

 
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