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Labor’s top priority, the card check bill, going down

This is one of those stories that’s been dribbling out -drip, drip, drip. Maybe it’s n ot quite over yet, but it feels like it.

Remember card check, aka The Employee Free Choice Act, the passage of which, during the 2008 campaign was organized labor’s top priority (and the defeat of which was organized big business’ top priority)?

Apparently it’s going down. My good buddy Tom Hamburger has the story in this a.m.’s L.A. Times.

Card check, in case the term has escaped you, was a way to make it easier for a union to organize a shop by removing the power of the employer to demand a secret ballot election. If a majority of the bargaining unit signed (or “checked) a card indicating they wanted the union to represent them (and if the workers themselves didn’t ask for an election), the shop would be organized.

I’ve never had a gut feeling for why this would make such a big difference, but the big unions believed fervently that card check was something they needed to reverse their long slide. They did everything they could to produce a Congress and a White House that favored the idea.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerice and other employer groups organized to stop the bill, which included airing ads like this one about candidates who favored EFCA.

It seems that labor pretty much was on the winning side in the election. And there were pieces written about how once Al Franken got seated in the Senate, he would provide the last vote needed to overcome a filibuster and put EFCA through. But now that it’s top priority collection time, EFCA is apparently not a happening thing.

Buddy Hamburger couldn’t quite bring himself to say it was over for EFCA, but no Repubs are for it and there are now at least three Senate Dems (counting Arlen Specter) who are against it or looking for alternatives to the card-check provision. Tom’s piece provides insight into how the business lobby overcame its various election defeats and will apparently still win its top priority.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/19/2009 - 03:48 pm.

    Since forcing a membership increase that couldn’t be achieved openly and honestly was the whole purpose of this legislation, I suspect Obama has pointed out to the unions that he’s done them one better by creating new members out of thin air as he balloons the size of government.

  2. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 05/19/2009 - 03:52 pm.

    A problem with coverage of EFCA, and unfortunately I have to include Hamburger’s article and you post Eric, is that it’s all about card check as if that was the whole bill, but it’s not. It’s just one part, and arguably not even the most important. Business lobbies have made a big issue out of card check because that’s easy to scared the public with as the loss of secret ballots, but mandatory arbitration is the biggest change. If it were sold as an arbitration bill maybe that would help.

    Even with card check, all it really does is change the choice of holding elections from the employer to the employees. Letting employers decide is like letting the union decide if the employer could join the chamber of commerce.

    This issue need much more coverage, but not the horserace coverage. The public doesn’t actually know what’s in the bill, or know that employers can simply refuse to negotiate for a year after a yes vote in a union election, and the election has to be done over again. They don’t know that the penalties for breaking labor laws, like firing suspected union supporters, have mild penalties and poor enforcement.

  3. Submitted by John Roach on 05/19/2009 - 05:51 pm.

    The mainstream media has done an absolutely terrible job of covering EFCA. GOPBusiness has outright lied about the card check part of the bill, pumping millions of dollars into a propaganda campaign convincing GOPbase that their “freedom” is threatened, and almost no mainstream media has bothered to correct the record.

    The Star Tribune especially has done nothing to explain the facts and instead has essentially provided copies of GOPBusiness press releases as their “reporting” on the subject.

    Mr. Ferguson is correct that there are other provisions in EFCA that are even more important to employees than card check; the requirement for employers to actually negotiate with their employees, and better enforcement and penalties for firing employees who “talk union” are biggies that GOPBusiness never seems to mention—–so neither does the mainstream press.

  4. Submitted by Joseph Pijanowski on 05/19/2009 - 07:40 pm.

    Cost of deceptive media campaign to defeat the Employee Free choice Act…….$200 million Dollars Limiting your employees ability to fight CEO’s corporate greed…..PRICELESS!

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