Rallying for labor rights

I couldn’t be there, but there was a rally yesterday outside the Labor Department in Washington demanding the right for workers to organize unions without fear and supporting the Employee Free Choice Act.

I was grimly amused by the reaction of Randy Johnson, Chamber of Commerce vice president for labor policy, who said new laws will not reverse unions’ decline.

Let’s consider this: 13.2 percent of the US workforce currently belongs to unions. A 2002 poll for the AFL-CIO revealed that of the approximately 77 percent of workers who are non-union, fully half of them would like to be union members.

OK. This being a labor-sponsored survey and all, let’s cut that number in half and say that in fact only a quarter of unorganized workers– knowing they wouldn’t face employer harassment– would be willing to sign cards indicating they want union representation. That’s still almost 20 percent of the workforce– more than the entire existing membership of unions.

In other words, Mr. Johnson, you’re full of it.

“Moving away from the shopworn rhetoric of the 1930s and creating an agenda and program relevant to today’s work force will do more to add to union membership rolls than” new laws, [Johnson] said.

How touching of you to be concerned, Mr. Johnson. I’m sure nothing would please the Chamber of Commerce more than a revived labor movement.