Monday, December 19, 2005

WAGE victory at GE plant shows need for labor law overhaul

Workers at the GE-owned Johnson Technology aircraft engine plant won an important victory on August 27 when the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) upheld an earlier regional decision that the company violated federal labor law.

The NLRB ruled that management illegally:· Stopped workers from posting union literature on employee bulletin boards;· Threatened workers with discipline because of their support for forming a union;· Attempted to limit the free speech of workers about the union only to breaks, lunch and after work while permitting other non-work related discussions to go on at any time;· Interrogated employees regarding their views about unions and about their work-related grievances with a promise to remedy them.

This is the second time that Johnson Technology was the found guilty of violating its workers' rights at the plant in Muskegon Michigan. The entire decision (Case 7-CA-43375) is on the NLRB's website at: or contact me at for a copy.

A slap on the wrist
Because of the company's frivolous appeals and delaying tactics, it took nearly five years from the time the labor law violations occurred in 2000 for the NLRB to reach a decision.

Then, after all the harm that management's illegal interference did to weaken workers' efforts to unite in IUE-CWA, Johnson Technology was only required to post a short notice on its bulletin boards saying that it wouldn't do it again!

Let's see: the company flagrantly attempts to smash the workers' organizing efforts and then five years later it's required to post a notice! Where is the justice in that?

That's why thousands of people marched in Boston and across the country during International Human Rights Week to protest massive violations of workers' freedom to form unions and the weak labor laws that allow companies like GE to get away with it.

What can be done about it? We need to build a movement to win the Employee Free Choice Act that would require employers to recognize a union after a majority of workers join it, provide tougher penalties for labor law violations and allow mediation and arbitration of first-contract disputes.

Because that law is not likely to pass soon, many unions are working in coalition with groups like Jobs with Justice to rally community support for workers seeking to form unions. That strategy is already making a difference. Visit to find out how.