Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Summer of Steve--On Employee Free Choice, The Difference is Clear

[putting the money shot at the top--give to Steve Novick's campaign today, to show the Democratic establishment that Oregonians believe in a new, people-oriented direction for the Senate...remember, if you file taxes in Oregon you can get a $50 credit per person for your contributions in each year. It's like the first $50 is free!]

It's Day Two of Summer of Steve Week! The last week of a federal fundraising quarter is always a frenzy for candidates; you're trying to raise as much money as humanly possible before the filing period deadline in order to impress other potential backers that you're not just a candidate--you're a movement! Steve's definitely got a movement going on, and we're part of it. We believe most Oregonians are sick to death of politicians who arrive in DC and immediately don their Protective Bubble of Political Caution(tm), and are hungry for a Democrat in particular who elucidates his or her positions without apology, actually proud instead of seemingly guilty to be holding them.

Speaking of positions Steve is proud of, there's an excellent example in the news today--the Employee Free Choice Act. The essential goal of the legislation is to greatly simplify the process by which willing employees may form a union and assert their rights to collective bargaining. In addition, it places strong penalties on companies who seek to deny or unduly pressure employees not to join. Basically, once a majority of affected employees sign a card authorizing their participation, they're all set.

Why is this important? In an exclusive comment sent to LO after the bill failed a cloture vote this morning in the Senate, Steve himself explains:
It's no accident that we had a fairer economy, with a much smaller gap between the rich and the rest of us, in the 1950's and '60's: More workers were represented by unions, which negotiated a fairer share of the pie for workers. But in the past thirty years, unionization has declined and - no coincidence - inequality has increased. The richest 1% of Americans used to get 10% of total national income; now they get 20%.

One major explanation for declining union density is that employers have taken advantage of the fact that if you illegally fire someone for attempting to organize, all you get is a slap on the wrist - so they fire and threaten people. And they take advantage of a cumbersome election process that increases their ability to threaten workers. EFCA would level the playing field, imposing real penalties on employers who break the law. Based on my experience enforcing environmental laws, I know that enforcement and penalties matter. EFCA would also simply the process of choosing a union. It's simple: A stronger labor movement means a stronger, fairer America.
There you have it. In a world where Steve Novick represents us in the Senate, he'd be a solid vote for Oregon's workers, their right to organize and to receive fair treatment in the labor marketplace. How about the guy sitting in DC now? From The Hill last Wednesday:
Smith opposes the Employee Free Choice Act, which would establish a federal right for a card check unionization process. Smith told The Hill, "It's a payback to labor for their [Democrats] support. It's not something supported by the American people."
I'd call bullshit on that last statement especially, and so would Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio. See for yourself:
For the record, every Democratic candidate for President except Mike Gravel backed the bill, with Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Obama, and Kucinich all co-sponsoring it. Smith (and Walden) were the only members of the Oregon delegation to vote against it.

On issues like standing up for the people who awake each day and trudge off to work to put food on their families(!), there's just no comparison between Gordo and Steve Novick. Can you help put a shine on Steve's 2nd Quarter fundraising statement, by giving what you can to his campaign? Anything helps, honestly--just please do it by Friday so it counts in this quarter. Some people still don't believe Steve can overcome the obstacles and win. His whole life proves that wrong; now's your chance to offer a little proof of your own.

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