Capitol Hill Steward

House Committee Says Yes to Employee Free Choice Act


The House Education and Labor Committee voted by a 26-19 margin on Feb. 15 to send the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800) to the full House for a vote in the coming months.


The Employee Free Choice Act would give workers greater freedom to join a union by:

  • Establishing stronger penalties for violations of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first-contract negotiations,
  • Providing mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes, and
  • Allowing employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation.


The committee voted 26-19 in favor of advancing the legislation (H.R. 800). The toughest obstacles are ahead. The day before the committee vote, Vice President Dick Cheney appeared at a National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) meeting to promise a veto from President Bush.


The NAM event was held to kick off the group’s lobbying effort against the bill. Our congressional representatives need to hear from us.


Visit www.tdu.org and www.teamster.org to take action online to support the Employee Free Choice Act. 


Employers Attack Family Medical Leave


Employers have been pushing for changes to water down the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for a long time. Now the Department of Labor is giving them a chance. The DOL just closed a commentary period where they officially sought suggestions for how to change the FMLA.  


Employer groups flooded the DOL with comments to push for changes that would gut our FMLA rights by:

  • making it harder for workers to qualify for a “serious health condition;”
  • requiring employees  to produce a doctor’s excuse every time they use intermittent leave;
  • watering down protections that restrict employers from contacting our doctors;
  • making it easier to deny family medical leave.


Although the DOL says it will be fair and objective, this is the same agency that revised overtime regulations just a few years ago to take away overtime rights from many employees. If we want to protect our rights, we’ve got to make our voices heard.


Teamsters for a Democratic Union produced a flyer to alert Teamsters to this threat and spread the word through the TDU website and Teamster-to-Teamster. 


The DOL commentary period closed on Feb. 16. But the threat to the FMLA continues. We will continue to keep you informed.


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