A group of liberal activists today touted a report documenting alleged anti-union practices at Wal-Mart and they urged Republican Senator Charles Grassley to back a bill that would make it easier to unionize workplaces like Wal-Mart.
Gordon Fischer, a Des Moines attorney who is a former chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, says the 210-page Human Rights Watch report outlines instances in which Wal-Mart engaged in union-busting activities.
"But I’m not here just to bash Wal-Mart, although they certainly are a bad corporate actor and this report certainly details that," Fischer says. "I’m also here to offer a constructive solution and that is the Employees Free Choice Act."
The legislation has cleared the U.S. House. It would toughen penalties for companies that engage in union-busting activities and make other changes to make it easier for a union to form at a worksite. "Senator Grassley ought to get behind the Employees Free Choice Act," Fischer says. "It really comes down to this: does he value the bottom line of corporate behemuths like Wal-Mart that misbehave and engage in union-busting or does he support the bottom line of Iowa working families?"
Charlie Wishman of the Iowa Citizen Action Network says unions help raise the living standards of Americans. Wishman is a member of a union. "That means that because I’m union, I have a better life," Wishman says. "But more importantly to me, the fact that I’m union means that my family will have a better life."
Representative Wayne Ford, a Democrat from Des Moines, is among those urging Grassley to join Democrat Tom Harkin in supporting the pro-union bill so both of Iowa’s Senators would be backing the legislation.
Ford, who admits he shops at Wal-mart, says America’s middle class if disappearing, in part, because of the employment practices at places like Wal-Mart. Wishman and other activists took copies of the Human Rights Watch report about Wal-Mart to Senator Grassley’s offices in Des Moines and Davenport.