Center for American Progress Action

Issue Brief: Unions Are Good for the Economy and Democracy

Issue Brief: Unions Are Good for the Economy and Democracy

The Employee Free Choice Act is likely to go before Congress early next year. Harley Shaiken and David Madland outline the facts you need to know.

Read the full issue brief (CAP)

It is good for the economy and good for American democracy when workers join together in unions, despite the claims of some conservatives who are waging a campaign to block important legislation that would make it easier to join a union.

Only 12 percent of American workers are currently represented by unions, and those who attempt to unionize face an uphill battle. The Employee Free Choice Act, which is likely to be one of the most important issues debated when the 111th Congress starts in January, holds the promise of restoring workplace democracy for workers attempting to organize, boosting unionization rates, and improving the economic standing and workplace conditions for millions of American workers.

The bill has previously passed the House and received majority support in the Senate, though the opposition of a few conservatives in the Senate has prevented the bill’s final passage. Yet next year the bill has a very strong chance of becoming law due to the election of several progressive senators in November and President-elect Barack Obama’s promises of support.

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David Madland

Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project