Card Check: Remaining Vigilant

By March 4, 2007Labor Unions

Following up on House passage of H.R. 800, the hope-you-noticed-that-it’s-misnamed-the Employee Free Choice Act, we spot several good pieces of commentary on the card-check legislation. Whitney Blake at The Weekly Standard sees a larger pattern of labor overreaching in Congress and notes that the bill does more than attack the right to secret ballots in the workplace.

While the card-check portion of the EFCA has received the most attention, binding arbitration cannot be overlooked. This mandates that the federal government set binding contract terms, which will be effective for a minimum of two years, on employees and employers if the bargaining period exceeds 120 days (which is not uncommon). Employees do not have a vote over the terms; Jason Straczewski of the National Association of Manufacturers considers this “borderline unconstitutional.”

What’s also not widely publicized is the actions under the EFCA that fall under intimidation and coercion by employers. As Lawrence Lindsey points out in a February 2 Wall Street Journal piece, employers can be fined up to $20,000 for implementing pay raises, increased benefits, and improvements in working conditions during the period in which unions are attempting to organize workers. Incidentally, the EFCA doesn’t establish stricter penalties for unions that engage in intimidation and coercion tactics.

Larry Kudlow at the Wall Street Journal regards the card-check bill as a blot on an otherwise bright economic picture and makes an important point about labor’s ultimate goal.

All that said, there are threats to growth. For starters there is the union attack on business, where “card checks” would substitute for secret ballots. Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, thinks the unions are aiming at Silicon Valley — America’s most innovative high-tech area — in a misbegotten attempt to turn the clock back to the 1960s and 1970s when competitiveness and entrepreneurship were at a low ebb. Tax threats associated with fixing the alternative minimum tax also are problematic. But the president has pledged to use his veto pen to prevent higher tax rates and will, according to the vice president, veto any card-check legislation (a.k.a. the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act).

Yet, as Kudlow observes, the President will veto the bill. Plus, we keep reading accounts of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell having already gathered enough votes to maintain a filibuster against H.R. 800. Labor’s victory was Pyrrhic PR, so why keep hammering on the issue here?

It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.

John Philpot Curran: Speech upon the Right of Election, 1790. (Speeches. Dublin, 1808.)

UPDATE (3:30 p.m.): Vigilance, toujours la vigilance:

CHICAGO – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Saturday the Senate would pass legislation making it easier for workers to start unions against companies’ wishes. Getting it past President Bush is another matter, he said.

”We may have to wait for the next president to sign it, but we will pass it,” the Illinois senator told a cheering crowd of more than 1,000 people at a labor rally. ”We will get this thing done.”

AP story here.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Good Sunday afternoon to you, tireless Blogmeister!

    Our take on EFCA’s passage is that it is a disaster for America’s employers and, as importantly, America’s workers.

    As such, we’ve written an Open Letter to American Workers (available on our blog or through, explaining to workers what this dangerous legislation really means for to them.

    It is the workers and small employers who do not understand the ramifications of this bill–and who we need to engage.

    Yours truly!