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Union Free and Proud


Workers without unions are at the mercy of their bosses’ whim. Where’s the democracy in that?



  1. “My boss . . . decides what thoughts I’m free to think.”

    In today’s perversely, deliberately job-scarce economy, many thoughtful, articulate Americans in “the land of the free” fear speaking out publicly — or even getting involved discreetly — for workers’ rights, a more just distribution of wealth and power, a truly fair and progressive tax system, reregulation of business, and other vital changes they and we need most to rescue American workers, America’s endangered middle class, and their rights and futures. Many fear that, in our Internet era, prospective or current employers will refuse to hire or even fire any worker who dares to speak up for progressive, pro-worker change.

    This fear is enough to serve as a major brake on the very changes we as workers and consumers need most in America. Messrs. Konopacki and Huck, as well as progressive, pro-worker advocates everywhere, need to confront this issue boldly and openly, expose employers that abuse workers’ privacy and rights to free speech and association, and call for strong legislation protecting the rights of employees and applicants to be free from discrimination in employment on account of lawful off-hours political and other activities.

    As the ongoing concern over how some employers now “ask” job applicants for their social media passwords and how many more employers now base hiring decisions in part on what Internet searches show about job applicants both indicate, employer snooping into your and my lives outside of work poses a grave threat, not only to our privacy, but to freedom of expression and association and other basic rights that define a free society.

    Something is radically wrong when employers can lawfully snoop into your and my private lives and use what they find to refuse to hire, fire, or otherwise penalize us.

    Employers that fret about, for example, off-hours expressive activities of employees and applicants and seek “digital dirt” on them rather than concentrate on on-the-job skills and performance infringe on employees’ and job seekers’ privacy and dignity–and undermine our most basic rights and freedoms.

    *Once one allows any employer to dictate one aspect of one’s private life, where does it stop?*

    My response to nosy, out-of-control employers is this: It stops here. *Now.*

    As National Workrights Institute legal director Jeremy Gruber has noted, employers that delve into our lives outside of work “are making decisions based on information not submitted by the employee or references. It is wholly unrelated to the employment relationship.”

    What’s more, Gruber added, “The idea that when you hire someone, you should be able to look at every aspect of their personal life is completely at odds of how a democratic society should operate. It has huge consequences for freedom in this country, when people are afraid or are changing their behavior because of what a potential future employer might say or do.”

    *Any society where this is so is not a truly free society.*

    Unless it has an actual and significant adverse effect on one’s ability to do a job–such things as vague fears as what “might” happen, obsessions over “image,” or employers’ and/or clients’ possible or actual dislike of or disagreement with one’s nonwork activities don’t count–one’s lawful activities outside of work and working hours are none of any employer’s goldarned frickin’ business.

    We all need state and federal legislation like California’s, which specifically forbids employers from dictating or attempting to dictate employees’ political activity. Better yet, every state and Congress should adopt legislation, as a few states such as North Dakota have, protecting the right of employees and job applicants to engage in lawful off-hours, off-premises activities they choose without fear of employment discrimination. We must also prohibit employers from collecting data about employees’ and job applicants’ lawful activities away from work that have no bearing on one’s ability to do a job.

    It is time to reclaim your and our rights–before they are lost forever, before we are all forced to live at the mercy of out-of-control employers in a nationwide, nightmarish high-tech version of the old company town, Frank Capra’s Pottersville, or Ira Levin’s Stepford, one that controls not only our work tasks but our other actions, our minds, and our souls “24/7.”

    It’s not about the bottom line; it’s about power and control.

    Let’s say to employers: Our skills, attention, and loyalty are yours eight hours a day, 40 hours a week; the rest of our lives belong to us, and to us alone. For not only ourselves but our fellow citizens and future generations, we are taking back our country, our economy, our lives, our privacy, and our rights.

    • When I grow up to become an employee, I want to be respected and treated equally, when I become an EMPLOYER/CEO, I want to treat workers the way I’d like to be treated, when I get into law or government, I’d like to make the government for the people again, and make the Justice system just again!

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