Business United In Opposition To Any Bill That Includes Card Check Or Forced Arbitration, And AFL-CIO...
“‘This bill will bring about dramatic changes, even if card check has fallen away,’ said an A.F.L.-C.I.O. official who insisted on anonymity.” (Steven Greenhouse, “Democrats Drop Key Part Of Bill To Assist Unions,” The New York Times, 7/17/09)
“The early reaction from AFL-CIO spokesman Eddie Vale: ‘As School House Rock taught us this is the normal process of how a bill becomes a law. We are very optimistic about passing the strongest labor law reform since the Wagner Act -- one that lets workers choose to join a union without intimidation or ha[r]rassment, ensures that workers who join a union get a first contract, and has meaningful penalties for violations.’” (Ben Smith, “AFL: Dropping Card Check Is ‘Normal Process,’” Politico, 7/17/09)
“Labor leaders have not signed onto a possible Senate compromise to drop the card-check provision from the Employee Free Choice Act and expect senators will have to take a floor vote on majority sign up, sources said today. ‘There’s been no agreement, and everything is still being discussed and on the table,’ said AFL-CIO spokeswoman Alison Omens.” (Kasie Hunt, “Labor Standing Fast On Card-Check Bill Vote,” National Journal’s Congress Daily, 7/17/09)
And For Good Measure, The SEIU’s Andy Stern...
“As we have said from day one, majority signup is the best way for workers to have the right to choose a voice at their workplace. The Employee Free Choice Act is going through the usual legislative process, and we expect a vote on a majority signup provision in the final bill or by amendment in both houses of Congress.” (Release, “Statement By SEIU President Andy Stern On The Employee Free Choice Act,” SEIU, 7/17/09)
The New York Times: ‘Card Check’ Concession Doesn’t Mollify Small Business
The Huffington Post: Unions Take A Hit With Employee Free Choice Act Compromise
U.S. News & World Report: Employee Free Choice Without Card Check: “Card Check Lite?”
National Journal’s Congress Daily: Labor Standing Fast On Card-Check Bill Vote
Washington Examiner: Card Check Compromise Still Weighted In Favor Of Labor, Critics Charge
American Spectator: The Binding Arbitration Bludgeon
Commentary Magazine: Card Check Lite
Las Vegas Review-Journal: Labor Bill Still A Bad Idea
Denver Post: Revised EFCA Still Dangerous
Orlando Sentinel: Democrats Ditch Card-Check, Keep Secret Ballot
Newsmax: Card Check Is Dead: New York Times
The Wall Street Journal: The New Old ‘Card Check’
DeMint On EFCA In January: “They Could Load It Up To Begin With And Fight Everyone And Then Pull A Few Things To Say They’ll Compromise”:
“It’s no secret the Orwellian-titled Employee Free Choice Act is one of the Democrats’ top priority legislative items to tackle after work on the economic stimulus bill is completed. The bill, largely recognized as a ‘payback’ to Big Labor for their work electing Democrats during the past two election cycles, would give labor a leg-up over employers by wiping out requirements for a secret ballot election to organize workplaces in favor of a public signature (called ‘card-check’). The legislation, however, has a second component just as destructive to the private sector as elimination of secret ballots. The bill would also require mandatory, binding arbitration by a federally-appointed official in case of failed agreements and dramatically increase penalties for labor law violations. Conservative Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.), warned conservative bloggers in a conference call earlier this year he fears Democratic leadership would push both provisions to rile Republicans and then strike secret ballot language. ‘They could load it up to begin with and fight everyone and then pull a few things to say they’ll compromise,’ DeMint said.” (Amanda Carpenter, “The Card Check ‘Compromise,’” Townhall, 1/28/09)
Voters Nationwide – Including Union Households – Oppose Mandatory, Binding Arbitration:
“As the ‘card check’ portion of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) remains in limbo, one internal poll by an anti-EFCA group claims the bill’s other key provision is deeply unpopular. 60 percent of voters nationwide oppose the binding arbitration portion of EFCA – including 43 percent of the country that strongly opposes it, according to internal polling done by one of the groups working against EFCA ... Of note, the anti-EFCA polling alleges that 63 percent of union households oppose the binding arbitration provision, which makes up the other key component of the bill. More broadly, the polling says that 76 percent of Americans believe say ‘giving government arbitrators the right to set the wages and benefits for workers is a bad idea.’” (Michael O’Brien, “Poll Claims ‘Arbitration’ Unpopular As ‘Card Check’ In Flux,” The Hill, 7/18/09)
The Denver Post: “Revised EFCA Still Dangerous”:
“A half-dozen union-friendly senators have apparently decided to drop the ‘card check’ provision from the so-called card check bill. It’s too bad the most destructive part of the Employee Free Choice Act remains intact. Card check would have made it easier for labor to organize workers by requiring employers to recognize unions once a majority of workers publicly sign cards saying they want to unionize. Some business owners fear that could lead to pro-union workers intimidating their brethren into signing. Under current law, employers can demand a secret-ballot election. But EFCA may not have made it past some moderate Democrats in the Senate with card check in place. Instead, The New York Times reported Friday, some moderate Democrats want to insert a clause that pushes for shorter unionization campaigns and faster elections. Still, EFCA is a bad bill, and we hope it's upended in the Senate. While we opposed the card check portion of the bill – the right to a secret ballot is a cornerstone of our democracy – it was never our biggest worry. By far, the most economically destructive provision in EFCA is one that imposes binding arbitration if the parties fail to reach a contract agreement within 90 days. This, in effect, means unions have zero incentive to bargain in good faith. They do have an incentive to make over-the-top demands, knowing they would be the starting point in arbitration hearings. And worse yet, it puts government in the wage control business and has the potential to destroy companies – particularly smaller businesses. EFCA has been the No. 1 issue for unions since they spent millions to help elect President Barack Obama and to strengthen the Democrats' majorities in both the House and Senate. Obama supports the measure. If card check is dropped, as The Times reported, the proposed changes could help secure a filibuster- proof 60 votes in the Senate. If so, it puts Colorado's Sen. Michael Bennet in a rather precarious position – again. Having been appointed to fill out Ken Salazar’s Senate term, Bennet faces election next year and has been trying to court both business and labor. He has been hoping the issue wouldn’t even come up this year, saying earlier this spring that he didn’t think there were 60 votes in the Senate to pass it. He has mostly stayed mum on the issue, saying he ‘would like to help workers and business.’ These proposed changes, intended to get moderate Democrats on board with EFCA, make it harder for him to stay silent. We still think Bennet needs to come out strongly against EFCA and work with the administration to ensure current labor protections are fairly enforced. We understand the political tightrope he’s trying to walk, but this one is a no-brainer — card check or not.” (Editorial, “Revised EFCA Still Dangerous,” The Denver Post, 7/18/09)
“We’re Glad That One Onerous Provision Was Removed, But The Danger Remains”:
“Colorado business leaders Friday cautiously eyed a proposed revamp of a controversial pro-labor bill in Congress, the Employee Free Choice Act, warning that ‘job-killing’ provisions remain. Organized labor was muted in response to reports that Democratic senators have removed a central component known as card check from the federal measure. Meanwhile, changes to the proposal were kept such a close secret that they caught many members of Congress by surprise and left Senate aides scrambling to get more information. The card-check provision would allow unions to organize workplaces by submitting signed cards from a majority of employees stating that they wanted to be unionized. Currently, businesses can mandate a secret-ballot election before recognizing a union. Andy Stern, the head of the powerful Service Employees International Union, said the bill is undergoing ‘the usual legislative process’ and that he expects the card-check provision to survive in the bill or as an amendment. Locally, organized labor echoed Stern. ‘We still see majority sign-up as the best way to protect workers’ rights,’ said Matt Moseley, a spokesman for a coalition of Colorado unions. The New York Times, however, reported that Democratic senators have decided to scrap the card-check provision to help secure the 60 votes needed to block a filibuster. Moderate Democrats had voiced concerns about card check. The measure already had enough votes in the House to pass in the original form. ‘We’re glad that one onerous provision was removed, but the danger remains,’ said Peter O'Connor, board chairman of the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, the statewide chamber ... ‘There is more than one poison pill in this legislation,’ said Tamra Ward, senior vice president of public affairs for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.” (Andy Vuong, “Labor Bill Rewrite In Works In Colorado,” The Denver Post, 7/18/09)
“Are You A Blue Dog Or A Yellow One? Look In The Mirror And Get Back To Us, Senator”:
“Risk aversion must be a contagious political disease because another Colorado Democrat is also reluctant to talk straight. Sen. Michael Bennet has carefully avoided taking a position on key national issues. Of course, the never-elected senator must raise millions for his first election in 2010. Does money translate to votes if people don’t know what you believe? ... Will he really be able to remain undecided on the Employee Free Choice Act? I understand that kill-or-die sound bites on either side of an issue won’t make for an easy campaign. On the other hand, you can’t afford to be color blind in this purple state. Are you a blue dog or a yellow one? Look in the mirror and get back to us, senator.” (Susan Barnes-Gelt, “What Do They Stand For?” The Denver Post, 7/19/09)
“Democrats Ditch Card-Check, Keep Secret Ballot. Big News Today On Card-Check, The Divisive Pro-Labor Push In Congress That Tips The Playing Scales Too Far In Favor Of Unions”:
“Democrats ditch card-check, keep secret ballot. Big news today on card-check, the divisive pro-labor push in Congress that tips the playing scales too far in favor of unions. Moderate Democrats appear to have won out over their more liberal colleagues and have shed a key provision from the bill. It no longer contains the means for unions to come into a place of business and organize simply by asking employees to sign cards -- all without the typical secret ballot election. The provision had drawn opposition from a number of local businesses, including a group formed by local Democratic fund-raisers as well as the hospitality and tourism lobby.” (Beth Kassab, “Democrats Ditch Card-Check, Keep Secret Ballot,” Orlando Sentinel, 7/17/09)
Business Leaders Head To DC To Lobby Against EFCA:
“At a time when Congress is debating serious issues that will impact area businesses, representatives from the Chambers of Commerce and economic development agencies of Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan will be meeting with the regional Congressional Delegation on July 22 and 23 in Washington, DC ... Among the issues the Chamber delegation will present are Cap and Trade, Employee Free Choice Act, health care reform, immigration reform, and transportation issues.” (“Northern Indiana Delegation Headed to Washington,” www.InsideINdianaBusiness.com, 7/17/09)
Melancon’s Shifting Away From EFCA Now Includes Arbitration:
“The Congressman is trying to deal with what could be a tough issue for him, his co-sponsorship of the pro-labor Employee Free Choice Act, which is causing opposition for him in the business community. The stalled bill would allow unions to organize workplaces without secret ballot elections and would provide for government arbitration to settle labor contract disputes. Recently, Melancon told a Morgan City business group that he would not vote for the bill unless it allowed for secret ballot elections. He also shared concerns with audience members over the arbitration requirement, according to a report in the Franklin Banner Tribune.” (John Maginnis, “Senate Hopefuls Talking,” www.LaPolitics.com, 7/17/09)
Local Industry Leaders Speak Out Against EFCA’s Affect On Business & Economy:
“Federal legislation that would make it easier for workers to form labor unions is making a big stir locally, as fabricators, boatbuilders and others find themselves battling the potential for future organization. The Employee Free Choice Act, which stands a chance of becoming law this year because of strong support from Democrats in Washington, would eliminate some federal requirements for forming unions, and local employers aren’t happy about the possibility. ‘Everyone in the local region and throughout the South is concerned,’ said Steve Becnel, general manager at McDermott International in Morgan City, whose 400 fabrication workers worked under a union contract from 2001 to 2006. Presently, those who wish to form a union must get at least 30 percent of a business’ workforce to sign union cards, opening the door to a secret-ballot election on whether a union should be formed. Once enough cards are signed, union and company representatives have 40 days to campaign on the question of whether an election should be held. The bill would amend the National Labor Relations Act to simplify the process, providing for a union’s recognition if a majority of employees sign union cards. Union organizers and business interests each say the current system is biased in favor of the other. The bill has been assigned to the House Education and Labor Committee and its subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions ... In a state where a scant 5.6 percent of workers are unionized – less than half the national average – Terrebonne and Lafourche parish businesses have a history of fighting off attempts to unionize the oil-industry employees and mariners whose work drives the region’s economy. The Gulf Coast Mariners Union, an AFL-CIO affiliated group, started a tumultuous four-year push in 1999 to unionize local shipyard and offshore workers. The effort was rebuffed by local companies and the nonprofit Concerned Citizens for the Community and fizzled out about 2003 after a failed attempt to attract Trico Marine workers. In 2005, McDermott workers decertified the union they had organized four years prior. But the new legislation and its potential for unionization was enough to lure the area’s top maritime employers to a June seminar on how to keep unions at bay. The seminar was hosted by the South Central Industrial Association, a regional business group. Among those in attendance were Jay Cole, a Colorado consultant on labor issues for Galliano-based Edison Chouest Offshore, and Concerned Citizens for the Community members. Donald ‘Boysie’ Bollinger, president of the Lockport-based Bollinger Shipyards, has been visiting company sites to make sure the firm’s stance on unions is clear, said Ray Barker, who heads Bollinger’s human-resources department. The company, officials say, would rather deal with workers as individuals. Barker said he expects more union activity and organization attempts, regardless of the bill’s fate. ‘It’s coming,’ said Barker, who has dealt with labor-relations issues for 22 years. ‘Get prepared.’ The best way to avoid unions, Barker told the business group, is ‘to make them unnecessary by the way you treat your employees’ ... Keith Pyburn, managing partner of the New Orleans-based Fisher and Phillips law firm, talked about what would happen if the act is passed. While a secret-ballot system could be used if union members desire, he said he’s concerned it would eliminate up-front union campaigns, depriving businesses of their chance to weigh in. Pyburn said the bill would also increase labor-law violation penalties, put a firm time-frame on contract negotiations and require binding arbitration if those deadlines are not met. The timetable is unrealistically fast and arbitration would restrict employers’ ability to promote, hire or lay off workers, he said. The latter would hurt competitiveness. Business and union groups interviewed for this story said they didn’t know of any active union campaigns in Terrebonne and Lafourche. Capt. Richard Block, who was involved in earlier union drives and is secretary to the National Mariners Association, said nobody has approached him for advice on organizing or information about the act, even given the tough economic times. ‘I don’t think there’s any great push,’ Block said.” (Kathrine Schmidt, “Union Potential Worries Local Business Owners,” The Daily Comet, 7/19/09)
The Boston Herald: “[EFCA] ... Still Does Not Live Up To Its Title. But Thanks To An Aggressive Push-Back Against The Most Entrenched Special Interests, That May Eventually Change”:
“While the health care debate rages on Capitol Hill, a small group of Democratic senators is quietly negotiating a compromise to ensure secret-ballot union elections remain the norm in the American workplace. There remain flaws in the compromise, which was reported on Friday by The New York Times [NYT]. But we’d like to see this effort lead to improvements in the inaptly-named Employee Free Choice Act. The senators have decided to drop the provision that would have mandated recognition of a union once 30 percent of worker signed cards of interest, the Times reported, in favor of a provision that would require an expedited secret-ballot election – perhaps within five to 10 days. Unions argue that management uses unfair tactics to thwart organizing efforts during campaigns that currently last a few months. Five days is still too short a period for management to present its case, especially since unions would have had an infinite amount of time to make theirs. The compromise seems to unfairly restrict a company’s right to inform its workers by, for example, barring them from making informational sessions mandatory. And the senators don’t appear to be budging yet on the bill’s call for binding arbitration, which would lead to even more government intervention in a private company’s affairs. But the measure as outlined would preserve the confidentiality of the election, and give workers who feel pressured by their colleagues to sign the card the option of changing their minds. In private. There is a long way to go. This bill, labor’s first priority on Capitol Hill, still does not live up to its title. But thanks to an aggressive push-back against the most entrenched special interests, that may eventually change.” (Editorial, “Rethinking Card Check,” The Boston Herald, 7/20/09)
Lt. Gov. Continues Campaign Against EFCA:
“Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder on Monday will stop in Cape Girardeau as part of his campaign against federal legislation making it easier for workers to gain union representation. Kinder is spearheading an initiative petition drive to block a union-backed effort for what is called card-check, which would require that employers recognize a union when more than half of their workers sign a card stating they want union representation. Kinder’s proposal would amend the Missouri Constitution to require an election by secret ballot to decide if the workers want a union.” (“Kinder To Campaign Monday In Cape Girardeau,” Southeast Missourian, 7/18/09)
“EFCA Is One Of The Most Direct Threats To Manufacturers’ Ability To Compete Globally And Create Jobs In New Jersey And Across America”:
“My metal stamping company in East Hanover faces many challenges to remain competitive in these tough economic times. The last thing we need is the jobs-killing Employee Free Choice Act. This bill is one of the most direct threats to manufacturers’ ability to compete globally and create jobs in New Jersey and across America. At its core, the EFCA is a power grab by labor leaders to increase union membership by radically overhauling our labor law system to tilt in their favor. In my experience, employers and employees work closely together to ensure their company’s competitiveness, with many existing government regulations providing the necessary balanced protections for workers. The need for unionization has diminished substantially as manufacturers foster positive employee relations in a spirit of mutual respect and fairness. Certainly, that’s the success formula for Weiss-Aug Company and our 140 employees. The key provisions of the EFCA, however, threaten employees’ rights and open the door for the government to set the terms of how employers can manage their own workforce. One provision of the bill in particular has received much public attention – the implementation of union card check schemes. This provision effectively eliminates employees’ ability to choose whether to join a labor union in private, thus exposing them to possible intimidation and coercion. Employees deserve to choose whether or not to join a union, and this decision should not be made known to their employer, co-workers or paid union organizers. While the EFCA’s effective elimination of secret ballots is very troubling, the legislation also has an even more onerous provision that would allow the government to actually set the terms of the first labor contract. The bill would put in place a system of binding arbitration. If employers and labor unions aren’t able to produce a first interest labor contract within 120 days of a labor union being certified, government appointed arbitrators would dictate the terms of the comprehensive first contract that is binding on employers for two years. These forced government mandates could determine what type of wages and benefits employees receive as well as detailed work rules including schedules and job assignments. An arbitrator, unfamiliar with a particular business, could make a mistake and impose terms that quite simply could kill a company. Union leaders claim that the EFCA is labor law reform that would ‘level the playing field,’ but in reality the EFCA is a solution in search of a problem. Despite union organizers’ claims, employees who wish to form a labor union are able to do so. Union membership is on the rise adding 400,000 new members last year while labor unions are winning 67 percent of union elections. Manufacturing employees earn on average nearly 20 percent more than the rest of the workforce. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, 97 percent of its members provide health care benefits for their employees. At Weiss-Aug Company, we pay top wages and salaries that are in the third quartile of our industry. Our generous benefits include, but are not limited to, a comprehensive health plan, paid vacation and sick days and a 401(K) plan. Organized labor groups and their allies, however, often focus on exceptions to these practices when advocating in support of the EFCA. Manufacturers today operate amid complex and speedy global supply chains, facing enormous pressures to manage costs while innovating to create the next generation of product. The EFCA acknowledges none of these realities, instead offering a workplace with rigid work rules and adversarial employer-employee relationships.” (Dieter Weissenrieder, “Employee Free Choice Act: Proposal Would Kill Jobs,” Daily Record, 7/19/09)
Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Labor Bill Still A Bad Idea”:
“So-called ‘card check’ legislation may be dead -- and that’s good news. But Democrats in Congress continue their push to stack the deck in favor of unions desperately trying to reverse a decades-long trend of declining private sector participation. Big Labor has apparently given up on card check -- which would have essentially killed secret ballot elections, instead allowing unions to organize a workplace by simply getting a majority of workers to sign a card in support -- because even some liberal Democrats were squeamish about this brazen and unpopular power play. But the ‘compromise’ bill that unions and their congressional allies hope to present soon isn’t much better, even without that poison pill. It still includes a provision demanding that a government arbiter step in if labor and management can’t reach agreement on their first contract within four months. Binding arbitration has been a disaster in the public sector, driving up costs virtually everywhere it is in place and removing incentives for labor to negotiate. It would be even worse if applied to the private sector. Do we really want some panel of federal ‘contract czars’ writing and imposing the terms and conditions of a labor deal without the approval of either management or the workers? ‘A company forced into binding arbitration will be frozen for two years (the duration of the initial contract) from making any changes to any aspect of its business that is covered by the contract,’ noted Forbes columnist Shikha Dalmia in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed. ‘Literally every issue .... could potentially become subject to review by a government panel that has neither the company specific knowledge nor the incentive to turn a profit.’ Business interests have vowed to fight the new bill over the arbitration issue. Good. And any Republican who might be tempted to jump ship and support a measure without card check should take a serious look at how binding arbitration will cripple the ability of businesses to innovate or react to changing market conditions.” (Editorial, “Labor Bill Still A Bad Idea,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, 7/18/09)
“EFCA Would Replicate The Conditions In The Steel, Automotive And Airline Industries Throughout America”:
“These are hard times for Americans who believe in free markets, entrepreneurship and limited government. A host of liberty-threatening issues recently presented themselves before Congress and all – so far – have been defeated. Unfortunately, the battle is not over. It is therefore critical that we thank and encourage the entire congressional delegation from Oklahoma for the leadership they have shown. They have been a vital and consistent linchpin in the effort to secure economic prosperity for our state and the entire country. Our delegation was unanimous in its stand against the horribly misnamed Employee Free Choice Act, better known as ‘card check’ during its first appearance more than a year ago. Now the bill is back and could come for a vote in the Senate soon. This bill eliminates a worker’s right to secret ballot, subjects union membership to majority vote instead of individual choice, and is a last-ditch effort by shrinking unions to grow their strength through the power of the federal government. The bill would replicate the conditions in the steel, automotive and airline industries throughout America. We need to be wary of this legislation and encourage all of our representatives to continue the fight.” (Stuart Jolly & Terry Neese, “Oklahoma On Right Track,” The Oklahoman, 7/20/09)
“Organized Labor Experienced A Period Of Explosive Growth For A Quarter Century Under The Very Same Laws They Now Seek To Change”:
“Al Franken has now been elected as the 60th Democrat in the U.S. Senate and this raises, yet again, the question of the Employee Free Choice Act – or the ‘card check’ law – which Congress should reject. The act is not about ‘free choice,’ it’s about tilting federal labor laws in favor of unions. As proposed, it would allow unions to bypass secret ballot elections and instead, a union could automatically become the employees’ representative if it gets a majority of employees to sign cards. Secret ballot elections and our current labor laws have been in place and largely untouched for over 70 years. They are imperfect, to be sure, and some reform may be warranted, such as enhanced remedies for both employers and unions who violate the laws. But by trying to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, unions argue their declining membership is due to bad labor laws that favor employers. Cutting against that argument, however, is the fact that organized labor experienced a period of explosive growth for a quarter century under the very same laws they now seek to change‚ union membership in the private sector increased from approximately 13 percent in 1929 to more than 35 percent throughout the 1950s under the very same law.” (Victor Kisch & Dennis Westlind, “Congress Should Reject Misguided Employee Free Choice Act,” Portland Business Journal, 7/17/09)
“The Founding Of The United States Was All About Freedom. Some Workers Don’t Want To Be In A Union. They Deserve The Freedom To Choose Without Intimidation From Companies Or Unions”:
“[EFCA], also known as Card Check, would make it very unlikely that workers will get a secret ballot to determine whether they will form a union ... Labor laws already provide a big advantage to unions. We often think of well-known corporations as being very big and powerful, although many, like the auto makers, are struggling. But how powerful are unions? The UAW represents 513,000 active, dues-paying members at 2,000 different companies, not just the big three auto makers. Companies are barred from colluding with one another. They cannot work together to gain an advantage in union negotiations. But unions can! The UAW has been very successful in using ‘pattern bargaining.’ They choose one company, perhaps Chrysler, and threaten a strike. Then they take a hard line in negotiations. If they choose to strike, those workers are helped by ‘strike pay’ from union coffers that were amassed with dues from a much larger pool of members. Once they extract favorable terms from Chrysler, they move on to Ford and GM to demand similar terms. That’s a huge advantage for the unions. The founding of the United States was all about freedom. Some workers don’t want to be in a union. They deserve the freedom to choose without intimidation from companies or unions. The only way to assure their freedom is with a secret ballot. No one questions the need for a secret ballot in our political elections. How can anyone argue that workers don’t deserve the same thing? ... Unions already have plenty of power. They don’t need any more.” (Jim Ogden, “Secret Ballot Is Needed,” York Daily Record, 7/16/09)
“Perhaps The Most Worrisome Piece Of The Binding Arbitration Provision Is That The Responsibility For Negotiating The Contract Would Move From The Local Business Owners And Employees To A Bureaucrat Flown In Just For The Occasion”:
“Unions are as American as apple pie, and have done much to improve the workplace in the early 20th century, especially in the heyday of the coal mines and the struggle of John Mitchell to unionize in 1907 in the Scranton area coal mines. Since then, the federal government has taken the lead in improving the work experience with agencies like OSHA and the Department of Labor and Industry in workplace improvements. This has turned American businesses, and the American work force, into highly regulated industries, with continually improving working conditions, strong enforcement efforts and fines levied for offenders. Like many other business owners in the United States, I am struggling to adjust to the lagging economy and am making the difficult decisions needed to keep our company on track. I am fortunate that the more than 9,000 people who work at our company share my goals of having a strong business and making our company a great place to work. We are ISO 9001 certified and have a philosophy of ‘continual improvement’ for both our employees and customers, who have the final vote in continuing to purchase our products and services. While I recognize that not all companies in America have this shared vision, I wanted to call other’' attention to a bill before Congress, misnamed the Employee Free Choice Act, which could hurt American businesses like mine and disadvantage our employees in the process. EFCA is a poorly disguised effort by Big Labor to unionize more businesses across the country. One aspect of the bill – binding arbitration – would emasculate local union leaders and business management alike, prematurely removing them from the negotiating table and installing Washington bureaucrats in their place. Natural demand for unionization, as demonstrated by current memberships rates, is at 9 percent nationwide. The projected membership dues collected will jump by $33 billion as a result of EFCA. Also, EFCA does nothing for existing unionized employees. Should EFCA and its mandatory arbitration clause become law, a business and its union would have just 90 days to negotiate a contract. If nothing was agreed to at the end of those 90 days, a federal mediator would arrive and become involved in the negotiations. Just 30 days later, both sides would be forced into binding arbitration and a third party – most likely a Washington-based arbitrator – would decide the terms of the contract for the business and its workers. Neither management nor the union representatives would have any say in the contract and the union employees would not be allowed to vote it ‘up or down.’ The 90-day timetable for negotiations is far too short and – more to the point – far too arbitrary. Many companies have a long and proud history of negotiating successful contracts with their employees, with both sides using the negotiating period as an opportunity to ensure all the relevant issues are discussed and that both sides are comfortable with the final outcome. The ‘one size fits all’ EFCA timetable could force some to rush the negotiations and emerge within the time allowed but not satisfied with the outcome. Conversely, the short window for negotiating might cause one side to lose motivation to negotiate at all, knowing that mandatory arbitration was not far away and that they are more likely to get what they want then. EFCA treats all unions and all businesses the same, regardless of size, location and industry. For example, the contract for thousands of auto workers in Michigan would have the same negotiating parameters as the contract for employees at a small textile plant in North Carolina or here at our company in Pennsylvania, despite the fact that our industries, size, geography and the needs of our employees are very different. Perhaps the most worrisome piece of the binding arbitration provision is that the responsibility for negotiating the contract would move from the local business owners and employees to a bureaucrat flown in just for the occasion. This arbitrator would likely have no history with the participants, no sense of the local economy, and no stake in the consequences of his or her decisions. Local union representatives and business management would be forced to sit on the sidelines with no control over the process, hoping that the arbitrator was fair and that the contract would be something with which both sides could live. We are currently a nonunion business. Some of my employees have been with us for as long as 35 years and have never mentioned a desire to start a union. My hope is that they don’t see a need for it – we have a good benefits plan and raises are merit-based, allowing each person to determine his or her own rate of success. I believe that my employees understand that they are valued individually, not because they stand behind a union leader. My fear is that EFCA will pass and my employees will be intimidated into joining a union that will complicate my business and force me to cut jobs. My view is that if unionization is necessary, it should be earned like in any other election, using the foundation of freedom and democracy. EFCA is a bad bill from start to finish. The only way to improve this bill is to defeat it.” (Frank Scavo, “EFCA Hurts Businesses And Employees,” The Scranton Times Tribune, 7/19/09)
Cantor: “[EFCA] Could Very Well Lead To Further Encroachments On The Rights Of Workers And Rights Of Business Leaders”:
“Right to Work laws that allow employees to refrain from joining a union or paying union dues could be jeopardized over the long term, if the Employee Free Choice Act (also known as Card Check) were to become law, according to Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Cantor’s concern is shared by other small business and free market advocates who view Card Check as a vehicle to accelerate unionization efforts in the 22 states that now have Right to Work laws including Virginia. Card check proponents predict that union membership could grow by 1.5 million members every year over the next 10 to 15 years, as a result of the legislation. Six Democratic senators reportedly have agreed to drop the Card Check component of the legislation in a compromise to attract moderate lawmakers. But the bill would retain a binding arbitration provision opposed by groups like the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI) and National Right to Work (NRTW). Even if the bill is passed in its current form, it would not impact Right to Work laws right away, but it could open the way to possible changes that come with higher rates of unionization, Cantor said. ‘The spirit of the law, the letter of the law will not be impacted by this bill,’ Cantor said. ‘But this bill could very well lead to further encroachments on the rights of workers and rights of business leaders. The traditions of right to work in this country and certainly in Virginia should always come first and I think we should be vigilant in defending that and I’m worried that the EFCA bill if passed could threaten its [v]iability.’ Brett McMahon, vice-president of Miller and Long, a Maryland-based concrete construction company also anticipates new challenges emerging in Right to Work states if Card Check were to prevail. ‘Right to Work laws do not prevent the formation of unions in anyway whatsoever – union organizers just find RTW states are less cost effective,’ he said. ‘Why go to the trouble and expense of a whole campaign when they will not be able to rake in dues from every employee? Good cash flows are not as readily available when they cannot collect initiation and monthly service fees because RTW laws mean some people do not have to pay them to earn a living.’ But, at the same time, he warned the unions would significantly increase their membership numbers under Card Check, giving them even more money to engage in political activities on behalf of candidates that will support the revocation of Section 14 (b) of the Taft-Hartley Act which empowers individual states to pas[s] RTW laws in the first place. In fact, a bill has been introduced in this Congress to do just that, McMahon said.” (Kevin Mooney, “Employee Free Choice Act Could Jeopardize ‘Right To Work’ Laws, Cantor Says,” Washington Examiner, 7/18/09)
The New Old 'Card Check'
Labor's Top Priority Isn’t Dead Yet.
July 20, 2009
The Wall Street Journal
Politicians don't typically broadcast their defeat, and when they do it pays to watch for the blindside hit. That's surely the case with last week's reports that six liberal Senators are abandoning part of labor's top priority, "card check" legislation.
The legislation to eliminate secret ballots in union elections has in fact been comatose for weeks, since Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas declared their opposition. So the real purpose of this "concession" is to shift to Plan B, which is to repackage most of what labor wants with new ribbons and wrapping. The bill that Senators Tom Harkin (Iowa), Mark Pryor (Arkansas), Mr. Specter and others are now considering would still give unions the whip hand in negotiations with management.
One proposal would slash the time for an organizing vote, requiring that it be held within five or 10 days after 30% of workers had signed cards asking for a union. The median time today is 38 days. Organizers want the rush because they know the more time workers have to learn about a union, the less they usually want one. Once employees hear the other side of the story, support dwindles.
This also explains a Big Labor demand to bar companies from requiring their workers to hear management's side during a union campaign. Labor supporters say this creates a "captive audience," but these meetings are one of management's few opportunities to address workers, since companies are barred from the sort of outreach allowed to union organizers -- such as visiting employees at home. At the same time, Senators want to give union organizers access to company property.
Democrats also aren't giving up on binding arbitration, which would let a federal arbitrator impose a contract if management and a newly established union at a work site aren't able to agree within 90 days. The provision would encourage unions to make maximum demands and play for time, knowing that an arbitrator could force management's hand. Binding arbitration also denies employees a vote on a contract.
Labor is desperate to rig the bargaining rules because most workers show time and again that they don't want a union. Americans know unions promise higher wages and benefits and more job security. But workers can also see what has happened to such highly unionized industries as steel, autos, airlines and many others. Unions couldn't save those jobs, and in fact they contributed to their demise with contracts that made the industries uncompetitive. Most workers would also rather not hand over a chunk of their paycheck in mandatory dues to finance the political agenda of labor leaders.
Democrats and the AFL-CIO are hoping that if they dump the unpopular secret ballot ban from card check, they can get to their magic number of 60 Senators. The business community and Republicans shouldn't be fooled and let Democrats from swing states off the hook. Card check under any cover is still a job killer.
Hispanos Perderían Con Propuesta De Ley
19 de Julio de 2009
El Diario La Prensa
En los 25 años que he vivido en Washington, he aprendido que nunca se puede juzgar el verdadero propósito de una propuesta de ley simplemente por su título. El caso palpable esta en el absurdo nombre de la propuesta de ley Opción Libre para Empleados titulada en inglés Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), una propuesta anti-empresa, anti-trabajador y anti-demócrata por algunos en el Congreso para aplacar a los líderes sindicales.
¿Qué tiene de malo esta propuesta que beneficia a los laboristas?
Primero, EFCA elimina uno de los ideales estadounidenses más sacrosantos: el voto secreto. Apodada de otra forma apropiada “verificación de tarjeta”, EFCA permitiría el uso de intimidación de lideres sindicales para colectar suficientes firmas para asumir control en lugar de dejar que los empleados decidan por un voto secreto—un privilegio que hasta los niños de primaria ejercen al elegir sus lideres estudiantiles. Pero aun hay más. Bajo EFCA, es mandatario que al certificarse un sindicato, la gerencia y los empleados tienen 120 días para llegar a un acuerdo. Si no llegan a un acuerdo, la negociación pasa a una arbitración obligatoria.
¿Quiénes son los árbitros?
Burócratas en el gobierno tendrían el poder de tomar decisiones inapelables con respecto a salarios, beneficios y condiciones laborales con poco o nada de conocimiento sobre el negocio. Los empleados podrían encontrarse sujetos a términos de contratación a los cuales ellos nunca apoyaron o ratificaron—lo cual actualmente si es un derecho que ellos poseen.
La arbitración mandatoria y obligatoria no ha recibido tanta atención como la eliminación del voto secreto, pero podría ser el asalto mas destructivo a la libre empresa en nuestra historia. Tan solo esta provisión elevaría los costos y forzaría a las pequeñas empresas a que cerraran sus negocios.
Con ‘Verificación de Tarjeta’, todos pierden.
Pero los que más perderían serian las empresas hispanas. ¿Por qué?
La realidad es que esta legislación facilita de forma significativa la organización forzosa de un sindicato en pequeñas empresas sin tomar en cuenta la carga costosa e injusta que implicaría para estas pequeñas empresas. Tanto los dueños de negocios pequeños como sus empleados sufrirían—y los hispanos de forma desproporcionada dado a que muchos de los negocios en nuestras comunidades son pequeños y frágiles. Muchos de estos negocios simplemente cerrarían.
Los líderes de los sindicatos no mencionan los verdaderos costos de la EFCA a los empleados y a los dueños de negocios. Si esta propuesta se convierte en ley, el triste resultado seria el crecimiento de desempleo para hispanos. En estos tiempos difíciles, nuestra comunidad necesita crecimiento económico y oportunidad, no leyes que matan la creación de empleos.
Todos pierden con EFCA. Esta propuesta necesita más que cambiar su título. Esta propuesta necesita ser totalmente descartada.