(Waterloo, Iowa) Former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley used an appearance before the Iowa AFL/CIO state convention to propose “new teeth” in U.S. labor laws to help boost union membership in America.
Bradley, who is vying for the democrat party’s presidential nomination, got a rousing response from members of the Iowa union when he suggested a ban on the practice of hiring replacement workers during a union-organized strike.
“When I think about my campaign for President of the United States, one of my absolute key objectives is to make sure that more Americans, working families in America, get on this prosperity train, that we don’t have a train that moves along and leaves more and more people further behind,” Bradley said.
Bradley decried the long-term drop in union membership. At one time, Bradley said, a union represented 30 percent of American workers. Today, just 11 percent of private sector workers are unionized. Bradley blamed federal labor laws which he said were tiled against union organizers.
“The Congress of the United States has not since 1978 taken a hard look at labor law reform in this country, that is why these numbers have occurred,” he said. “That means if you’re going to get more people represented by a union and so doing give them a better chance to do better by their family, then you’ve got to try to change these laws so more people have a chance to succeed.”
Bradley suggested raising the fines for companies that fire workers who are beginning the process of organizing a union. If someone is fired for organizing workers, Bradley believes the employer should pay three times back wages, plus punitive damages.
Under present law, the penalty is payment of back wages only.
Vice President Al Gore is scheduled to speak to the Iowa AFL/CIO convention on Thursday.