Obstructing labor

Senate Republicans and their Chamber of Commerce friends have drawn a battle line on President Obama’s choice for secretary of labor, Rep. Hilda Solis, delaying her confirmation in an effort to start a fight over the Employee Free Choice Act.

Solis, whose parents were union members, is the first Latina to be nominated to the post. She is seen as a strong supporter of workers’ rights.

Republicans and big business CEOs are anxious to block any expansion of union and worker rights. The Employee Free Choice Act, backed by Obama and the number one priority of the labor movement, would make it easier for workers to form unions by providing the option of a majority signing union cards, and would increase penalties for companies who break the law. It would essentially de-fang employers who currently are able to intimidate, coerce and otherwise prevent their workers from getting a union.

No wonder Republicans — the boss’s best friends — are trying to intimidate Solis, and Obama, on this vital legislation.

The Chamber of Commerce has called it “Armageddon.”

And Bernie Marcus, founder and former CEO of Home Depot (the corporation that just announced 7,000 job cuts) called it “the demise of civilization.”

That was on an October conference call hosted by Bank of America, just three days after it got $25 billion — no strings attached — courtesy of U.S. taxpayers. Sam Stein of The Huffington Post got a recording of the call, in which representatives from big corporations (including AIG, an $85 billion taxpayer-bailed-out mega-business) were pushed to donate to anti-Employee-Free-Choice-Act politicians. That campaign failed as many of the anti-union politicians lost their seats, like former Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina.

But that isn’t stopping a renewed big business campaign to undermine the new administration’s ability to expand worker rights and help a struggling economy.

Economists say more union organizing will help recovery efforts by increasing wages and therefore consumer buying power and production.

With the expanded Democratic majority, Solis is expected to be confirmed. But it can’t be taken for granted. Contact your senators. Write letters to the editor. Join the Facebook Solis support groups. And educate others on why the Employee Free Choice Act is good for America.