Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Dems Say They Will Drop Card Check From EFCA

The New York Times‘ Steven Greenhouse is reporting that at least “a half-dozen senators friendly to labor have decided to drop” card check from EFCA.

Although card check may be gone (for now), that doesn’t make EFCA any less of a hazard. Senate and union officials plan to replace card check with provisions to still make it easier to organize:

In its place, several Senate and labor officials said, the revised bill would require shorter unionization campaigns and faster elections.

While disappointed with the failure of card check, union leaders argued this would still be an important victory because it would give companies less time to press workers to vote against unionizing. …

There are several other ideas that will likely find its way into EFCA to appease those disappointed with card check’s absence:

Though some details remain to be worked out, under the expected revisions, union elections would have to be held within five or 10 days after 30 percent of workers signed cards favoring having a union. Currently, the campaigns often run two months.

To further address labor’s concerns that the election process is tilted in favor of employers, key senators are considering several measures. One would require employers to give union organizers access to company property. Another would bar employers from requiring workers to attend anti-union sessions that labor supporters deride as “captive audience meetings.

Requiring an election within five days of 30 percent of workers signing cards may seem innocuous, but it’s still an easy way for unions to intimidate and mislead workers. Proposals to allow organizers to access company (private) property and prevent employers from having the opportunity to explain their side of the case only makes it easier for unions to organize.

Even without card check, EFCA is still a dangerous proposition. Binding arbitration, perhaps the most damaging element of all, remains in the bill. The unions are a bit muted in their reaction. An AFL-CIO spokesman said:

“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 harassment, ensures that workers who join a union get a first contract, and has meaningful penalties for violations.”

And the SEIU’s Andy Stern still thinks card check will be part of EFCA:

“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.”

Considering this is labor’s top priority, I wouldn’t rule anything out. They will not go down without a fight. And there’s nothing to say that card check won’t come back again, especially if this deal falls apart and Harkin fulfills his promise to force a floor vote on EFCA.

Categories: AFL-CIOCenter for Union FactsEFACEnding Secret BallotsNewsSEIU