Merkley: Employee Free Choice Act Critical to Strengthening Middle Class

Washington, DC – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley today co-sponsored legislation to make it easier for workers to bargain collectively at their jobs.  The Employee Free Choice Act would streamline the process for forming a union and empower workers.


“When workers are able to band together to improve their workplaces and wages, we strengthen the middle class.  During this time of economic downturn, it is more important than ever that workers have the opportunity to earn a good wage and provide for their families,” said Merkley.  “The Employee Free Choice Act is a critical component of this effort.”                                                                        


Currently, federal law allows employers to choose whether workers use a petition or election process to decide whether to form a union.  The Employee Free Choice Act would allow the workers themselves to decide whether and how to organize, so they have a free and fair opportunity to make that decision.


“Whether forming a union is in workers’ best interests is a decision that should be made by workers, not management,” said Merkley.


As employees in unions currently earn 30 percent more than average and are 60 percent more likely to have employer-covered health insurance, the benefits of forming unions are abundantly clear.  Unions help level the playing field, and the Employee Free Choice Act will help more workers get fair wages and benefits.   


“I emphatically believe that our economy is strongest when the middle class is strong and prosperous.  I know that employers and their workers can work constructively together to keep American businesses competitive while restoring opportunity to the middle class.  It’s time to make America work for working Americans again and return our economy to the roots that make us prosperous,” said Merkley.