Vermont's Largest City
Card Check Recognition
The City Council last month endorsed the right of workers to organize and
called on employers to recognize unions where a majority of their employees have signed
Residents of the citys Old North End got the good news delivered to
their doorsteps when a team of rank-and-file UE members, staff and national leaders
canvassed the neighborhood.
Introduced by Councilor Bill Stahl of the Progressive Coalition and
backed by UE and other unions, the resolution does not legally bind employers but sends a
strong message in support of genuine labor law reform.
At the heart of the resolution is support for "card-check"
elections, in which employers agree to recognize the union when a majority of workers have
signed authorization cards. In a typical union campaign today, signed union cards are
filed with the National Labor Relations Board, which conducts an election many weeks
later. During this period employers frequently engage in lies and intimidation to
undermine the unions majority support.
The resolution also calls on employers to remain neutral in union
campaigns and refrain from anti-union activities, to allow workers their right free from
intimidation and coercion.
Councilor Stahl had the support of the mayor and the three other
Progressives on the council, but the Democrats were a hard sell. The Democrats would not
support a legally binding resolution. In the end, five Democrats voted with the
Progressives in favor of the resolution while one went over to the Republicans voting
Some 50 trade unionists attended the council meeting to show support for
the resolution; many of them, including UE members, took advantage of the open forum to
express their frustration with the organizing climate.
MAKING IT REAL
Tom Stout, UE Local 267 steward, and Brad Bluto, UE chief
steward, each spoke of the union victory at the University of Vermont and the
administrations anti-union tactics. If the union had been recognized once a majority
signed cards, the university would not have had the chance to engage in its harassment of
union supporters, they said.
Local 221 Fin. Sec. Jonathan Kissam testified that unions are good
for Burlington because they bring higher wages and therefore more money into local
businesses, and generally foster more worker involvement in the social and political life
of the community.
Earlier this month, UE took its message to the streets. Following a local
leadership meeting, UE Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley, UE District Two Pres. Judy
Atkins, staff and members of Locals 221 and 267 knocked on doors in the Old North End
to let people know that the City Council supports their right to organize. The UE
canvassers educated people about the union and the advantages to organizing in the
workplace. And they got an earful about working conditions and workplace problems in
UE News - 02/99