“U.S. Government Charges Kellogg with Serious Violations of Federal Law”
– BCTGM News Release, March 27, 2014
“Federal Government Seeks Immediate Court Action to End Illegal Memphis Lockout”
– BCTGM News Release, April 5, 2014
What a difference a year can make!
At this time last year, the labor movement was confronting one of its greatest challenges since the enactment of the National Labor Relations Act, the “Workers’ Bill of Rights”, nearly 80 years earlier. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency responsible for enforcing the nation’s labor laws, was in crisis.
Years of Republican filibusters in the U.S. Senate of President Obama’s nominees to the NLRB coupled with an outrageous decision by a right-wing dominated federal appeals court had left the Board virtually paralyzed, unable to do its job of protecting the rights of workers on the job.
With a Board incapable of enforcing the nation’s labor laws, employers across the country and in virtually every industry became emboldened, expanding and accelerating their illegal actions against workers in the workplace.
Nearly a year later, a fully-functioning NLRB with a majority of its members committed to enforcing the letter and spirit of the law, has taken bold action against Kellogg and struck a loud blow for justice for our locked out members in Memphis. How we got to this point is an instructive story of labor’s constant drive to level the playing field for working men and women.
Faced with this critical situation in 2013, organized labor rose up and did what it does best – mobilize and fight for workers and their families.
On behalf of the nation’s working men and women, union and non-union alike, in the spring of 2013, labor went to Capitol Hill, looked the Senate leadership squarely in the eye and demanded action on the President’s nominees. It was time to put an end to the paralysis and chaos at the National Labor Relations Board.
The AFL-CIO, the BCTGM and the rest of the Federation’s affiliates then implemented a comprehensive, nationwide grassroots campaign to force the Senate to act. After months of hard work and relentless pressure on Senators in their home states, the labor movement prevailed. On July 30, 2013 the United States Senate confirmed President Obama’s nominees to the Board.
What the labor movement accomplished in the spring and summer of 2013 with our highly successful “Give Us Five” campaign and what that effort is yielding today for our members will stand as lasting testament to the power of grassroots labor mobilization. It is a strong reminder of what can be achieved for workers when unions come together in unity, build lasting coalitions with our allies in the civil rights, progressive and faith communities and throw down the gauntlet to our “friends,” as well as our adversaries, in Congress in order to preserve and defend workers’ rights.
A fully-functioning NLRB, with a majority of its members committed to enforcing the law vigorously, is certainly welcome and valuable progress, especially given the disastrous state of affairs at the Board a year ago. Still, far too many American workers, such as our determined Panera Bread members in Michigan, continue to be denied their rights because this nation’s labor laws are just too weak.
We know that the workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively can only be fully realized with fundamental reform of the nation’s labor laws. The reform we want to see enacted would inhibit and severely punish employer coercion and harassment of workers who want to organize and improve their lives through union representation. The reform we want would put an end to the employers’ ability to abuse the process and deny workers a fair contract after they vote for union representation.
This has been and always will be the goal of the BCTGM. Until we reach that day however, it is our responsibility to do everything we can under existing laws and conditions to protect the rights of our members and those who want to join our Union.
That is exactly the course of action the BCTGM took in the spring and summer of 2013. And today, our members, our Union and this country are better off for what we accomplished.