As business and labor gird for battle over legislation that would make it easier for workers to organize, the debate could be transformed by a "third way" proposed by three companies that like to project a progressive image -- Costco, Starbucks and Whole Foods.To all our readers who aren't necessarily immersed in the labor movement: this is an attempt to get you, the highly-educated, conspicuously consuming progressive, to identify with these corporations against unions, workers, rising wages, workplace democracy, and something like a for-real check on corporate largesse. At this point in the Employee Free Choice Act debate, y'all's hearts and minds are endlessly more important than those of us laborite nerds. If you don't feel like this Employee Free Choice Act has been defined to your liking on this blog or elsewhere, or if you would like some specific, anecdotal illustrations of how the present process of forming a union is tailor-made for employer intimidation, please say so. Point blank: this bill is the last best chance for workers -- and I am including anybody who works for wages, here -- that we will see during the Obama administration, let alone whatever Jindal or Udall or whatever-the-shit administration will follow.
Like other businesses, the three companies are opposed to two of the Employee Free Choice Act's components -- a provision that would allow workers to form a union if a majority sign pro-union cards, without having to hold a secret ballot election, and one that would impose binding arbitration when employers and unions fail to reach a contract after 120 days.
Nobody reading this blog loves coffee, Ryan Adams cds, organic produce, fake meat products and cheap Ric Flair dvds more than me; but never mind what they're selling, eh? It's what you're buying. The US Chamber of Commerce is betting that NPR fans and Gen X ur-hipsters identify more with their latte store and its liberal arts semiotics than they do with the folks who brought us the weekend -- which side are you freaks on? Are you primarily a consumer of steamed milk or a worker, like other workers, who figures 40+ hours a week of whatever-the-fuck merits economic security and, shucks, the right to do your job and have a say at work without fear of employer behavior that can be alternately arbitrary, patronizing, charitable or cruel, but which is always, as it stands in the non-unionized workforce, damn near unfuckwithable?