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SEIU backs National Labor Relations Board proposal

CRAIG D. FRAZIER Special to the AmNews | 7/11/2011, 11:01 a.m.

Businesses would have less time and opportunity to block unions under a proposed U.S. rule that would speed voting in labor elections. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), an agency that investigates unfair labor practices, proposed the new rule this week. The rule would bring about changes long sought by unions such as faster hearing deadlines and streamlined procedures.

"In just the first six months of this year, we have witnessed unprecedented assaults on workers' rights in states across the country," stated Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). "Now, the NLRB is taking a positive step for workers who want to exercise their fundamental right to decide for themselves whether to form a union."

The drive for hasty elections is a victory for unions after defeats at the hands of Republican governors seeking to curb public employees unions. It's also a sign of the NLRB's pro-labor shift since President Barack Obama's appointees to the board became the majority, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Henry went on to say that it's time to restore some measure of balance and fairness to the system. "Too many workers have seen their efforts to join together on the job defeated by costly litigation and delaying tactics by their employer," she explained. "Many never get the chance to make their voices heard at the ballot box. This rule change would protect a right that is central to our democracy-the right to vote."

The SEIU president warned that right-wing politicians and corporate interest groups could make outrageous claims about what this rule change will do. "These are the same politicians who are attacking workers' rights around the country and the same corporations that are reaping record profits," Henry noted. "America's economic and tax policies are making them rich and they want to keep them that way."