Aggressive organizing and bargaining from the competing camps of the Change to Win Coalition and the AFL-CIO are targeting corporate “vulnerabilities” and exploiting them in an orchestrated effort to weaken or eliminate employer resistance to unionization. Eighteen months after the split in organized labor heralded a renewed emphasis on reversing declining membership, a labor movement focused on organizing through corporate campaigns will find a welcome mat in New Jersey.
Consider recent events. Despite running on a property tax relief platform, which identified state pension reform as a major issue, Gov. Jon Corzine acceded to labor’s demands that the pension issue be addressed at the bargaining table rather than in the statehouse. In January, Rutgers University agreed to cease campaigning against the American Federation of Teachers, which is seeking to represent the University’s midlevel administrators. The agreement came only after Governor Corzine interceded on the union’s behalf and Democratic state lawmakers threatened funding. Shortly thereafter, Senator Robert Menendez chaired a public forum in support of the AFT’s organizing effort. Also, at the time of this writing, the federal Employee Free Choice Act (which, among other things, eliminates the need for a secret ballot election in union organizing) was quickly working its way through Congress. The assembly version of legislation sports nine New Jersey Congressmen as co-sponsors. Not surprisingly, both Senators Frank Lautenberg and Menendez appear as co-sponsors of the Senate bill. Certainly, the political landscape in New Jersey provides fertile ground for organizing.
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