Bal Harbour, FL

The AFL-CIO opposes S.295 and H.R.473, the misnamed Teamwork for Employees and Management Act. This legislation would negate the National Labor Relations Act's prohibition of company unions and again enable employers to create and dominate employee organizations.

The TEAM Act has nothing to do with teamwork. Nothing in the NLRA restricts the use of work teams or any other legitimate form of employee involvement. Decisions of the National Labor Relations Board make this clear.

What the NLRA prohibits -- and what the so-called TEAM Act would allow -- are illegitimate forms of employee involvement. The NLRA says that when employees deal with their employer with respect to their wages or other terms of employment, the employees have the right to independent representatives -- that is, representatives who are accountable to the employees, and only to them.

The Republicans' TEAM Act would take from working men and women this right. Under this bill, non-union employers would be free to create phony employee organizations and fake employee committees and hand pick the "leaders" of these organizations. Employers would then be free to deal with these management- anointed "representatives" as if they were the real voice of the employees.

Indeed, even in workplaces in which the employees have democratically elected a union to be their exclusive representative, the so-called TEAM Act would allow employers to create, fund, and deal with a rival, company-controlled entity. The bill thus provides management with a ready means of undermining the union and destabilizing bargaining relationships.

What this bill ultimately is about, then, is not teamwork but control. Management seeks what it has always sought: the freedom to "involve" employees in ways that do not threaten management prerogatives. The ultimate goal is what it always has been: to stifle legitimate worker voice and to stave off genuine worker organization.

The AFL-CIO has a long and proud history of fighting here and abroad for free trade unions -- unions controlled by their members and no one else. We have resisted government-controlled unions in all their forms. We fought to prevent political parties from gaining control of unions. And we will not allow employer-controlled unions to be reborn in the United States.

The AFL-CIO will work to prevent the adoption of the so- called TEAM Act. The economic crisis confronting the American middle class will be solved by giving workers more of a voice in the workplace, not by taking away their democratic rights. We call upon all who care about workplace democracy, and all who are concerned about protecting the living standards of working families, to join us in this struggle.