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Chamber against union changes

The elimination of a traditional vote strikes Joe Dalton, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, as undemocratic.

"Our position is that every United States citizen has the right to a secret ballotthey should not have pressure applied to them by the employer or the organizing unit," he said.

"It certainly does not stop democracy in the workplace. It gives working people the freedom to make their own decisions," said Mario Cilento, chief of staff for the New York State American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the state's largest representative of union workers.

"Studies have shown time and time again that workers would join a union right now if they could, but they never get that chance because the system works in favor of the employer," he continued.

An employer who is against unionization can delay elections or otherwise block efforts, said Cilento. The legislation would also bolster penalties for interfering employers.

"We're not against unions, and we're not saying that unions shouldn't have the opportunity to be in the workplace," said Aust, but "[the legislation] opens up opportunities for coercion in the employee ranks to force employees to sign the card."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average unionized worker earns a better wage than his non-union counterpart, $863 per week to $663.

New York has the second highest population of unionized workers in the county, at 2.1 million. As of the end of 2007 (the earliest account available), around 12.1 percent of the national work force was unionized, or about 15.7 million workers.

The Chamber of Southern Saratoga County is trying to organize a meeting with Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Greenport, in an effort to persuade her to not cosponsor the bill. They're also asking members to write her office.

In the meantime, the Chamber will be holding two seminars focusing on the bill on Thursday, Jan. 15, at the Desmond Hotel and on Wednesday, Jan. 28, at the Chamber's Executive Education Center. For information, visit www.southernsaratoga.org.""

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