Skip to comments.United Farm Workers fight dwindling membership
Posted on 04/20/2011 10:14:28 AM PDT by SmithL
WOODVILLE -- A dozen farmworkers sat in a circle of plastic chairs in a modest living room, listening as a union organizer talked about a bill she said would allow people to organize without fear, rebuild the union and improve conditions in the fields.
The United Farm Workers of America drew national attention when workers led by Cesar Chavez inspired a boycott of table grapes in the 1960s and then forced vineyard owners to sign hundreds of contracts providing better pay and working conditions.
But experts say employer intimidation, high worker turnover and demographic changes have resulted in union membership plummeting in recent decades, despite the problems workers reeled off at the meeting: low or stagnant wages; employers who don't provide shade from the scorching sun; and foremen who rob workers of their pay or prevent them from taking water and bathroom breaks.
The workers in the room were too afraid of reprisals to agree to be named or even quoted individually by The Associated Press, and that fear is one reason union leaders want to change the way workers organize. In 1975, the union fought for workers' right to hold secret ballot elections. Now, in a historic shift, it is backing a California bill that would move organizing efforts off farms, where leaders believe employer intimidation has helped throw elections.
"You're talking about voting on the employer's site, with foremen and supervisors making eye-contact with you after they've alluded to or flat out threatened you with the loss of your job, your housing or calling immigration agents," said Armando Elenes, a UFW vice-president who runs the union's organizing out of Delano. "It takes a lot of strength to even vote."
The bill would allow majority signup elections, also known as card-check.
(Excerpt) Read more at contracostatimes.com ...
Thus the point of the secret ballot elections they currently have.
Card-Check will allow union intimidation.
They will show up at your door and tell you they know where your kids go to school and they know how to break kneecaps with baseball bats, so you had better sign that card.
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