As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Card Check Vanishes

Conservative Democrats pulled out the card check provisions from the Employee Free Choice Act, leaving in place a weakened bill that is still being negotiated.

The so-called card-check provision — which senators decided to scrap to help secure a filibuster-proof 60 votes — would have required employers to recognize a union as soon as a majority of workers signed cards saying they wanted a union. Currently, employers can insist on a secret-ballot election, a higher hurdle for unions.

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 [...]

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.”

These provisions will only work if there are stiff, measurable penalties for breaking the law. Right now those penalties are weak and unenforced, and even if they're hit with fines employers consider it the cost of doing business. If those fines are high enough to discourage intimidation and harrassment, on both sides by the way, then we might be able to have a level playing field with snap elections and binding arbitration if the election is successful, so that the employer can just refuse to sign a contract forever. I'm upset about the loss of card check, but without the anti-intimidation provisions it really won't matter. Right now the union election system is broken - the "secret ballot" language might have beaten card check, so "right to vote" language needs to ensure a level playing field. If that happens, this bill would expand union membership in America and protect worker's right to unionize.

...Andy Stern responds by vowing that there will be a vote on majority signup, whether in the bill or by amendment. And there should be. Labor needs to know who their friends are in Congress before they spend a kajillion dollars on them getting them elected.

Labels: , , , ,