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Cornell Study Finds The Obvious: Employers Are Making It Harder For Unions To Organize Workers

A new study of interest to all New York construction accident lawyers comes to some discouraging, though unsurprising, conclusions about the state of organized labor in this country. The New York Times reports the Cornell University study [pdf], released yesterday, shows that in its survey of 1,004 union organizing drives, 57 percent of the employers threatened to close plants and 47 percent threatened to cut wages and benefits when faced with unionization.

Another 63 percent of employers initiated illegal one-on-one meetings with workers to determine which of their employees supported unionization. Supervisors threatened workers with termination at more than half of these personal meetings. Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and author of the study, came to these conclusions by looking at data from the four-year period from 1999 to 2003.

She used a combination of publicly available information and surveys issued to organizers of the 1,004 union elections she examined. The best New York construction accident lawyers know that unions are essential in avoiding unnecessary construction accidents. Unions give workers a safe place to report concerns about employers’ unsafe practices without fear of retaliation.

They can help certify that workers are well-trained for the tasks that they perform on the job. Unions can ensure that when a construction accident does happen, the proper authorities are informed and the injured workers get all the help they need. All of this makes inherently dangerous construction work much less risky. The essential role unions play in the construction industry makes any threat to unionization a major concern for construction workers.

Ms. Bronfenbrenner is correct when she writes that the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act represents unions’ best chance for survival and expansion. Construction workers should do what they can, be it signing petitions, writing letters or attending rallies, to support this bill.


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