Card Check: Teeming Teamsters and the Haymarket

By May 5, 2007Labor Unions

About time for another roundup on the antinomianly named Employee Free Choice Act, the legislation that would deprive employees of the right to a secret vote in a federally supervised election when unions try to organize their workplace. And force binding arbitration on companies and employees alike. The usual mischief and misrepresentation abound.

Except …At least Teamster President Jim Hoffa was being straight when he promoted the bill before a gathering of organizers at the national Unity Conference in Las Vegas. Forget the talk about democracy, it’s all about membership numbers:

It was the Democratic House this year that passed the Employee Free Choice Act, landmark legislation that would help make organizing workers easier and hold companies more accountable for anti-union activities. The Democratic Senate is expected to do the same.

If EFCA were signed into law, Hoffa believes, Teamsters could double the size of the union.

Of course. (Hat tip: EFCA Updates.)

James Sherk, the hard-working labor policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, has an op-ed in today’s Washington Times, “Card Check Versus Secret Ballots. As usual, Sherk does a good job of pointing out the other nefarious provisions of the bill, its binding arbitration requirements.

Arbitration rulings typically take more than a year to hand down, leaving workers in limbo. Arbitrators could easily bankrupt employers.

Worse, binding arbitration would deprive workers of virtually all say about their jobs. The arbitrator’s award cannot be appealed. With a union, workers vote to ratify their contracts and can strike for better terms. Without a union, workers can point to their productivity and directly ask for a raise or other changes in their jobs.

But with binding arbitration, these freedoms disappear. You couldn’t strike. It would be illegal for your boss to give you a raise the arbitrator didn’t approve. You and your employer would be stuck with the arbitrator’s ruling for the next two years.

Finally, here’s an odd reason to support the Employee Free Market Act: Do it for the victims of the Haymarket Riot.

Ten major unions representing 100,000 workers, led by the Chicago Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, rallied May 1 at the Haymarket Memorial to demand passage of the most radical labor law reform in 60 years of American history. When they finished they staged a dramatic march to join the hundreds of thousands who were rallying for immigrant rights at Chicago’s Grant Park.

Dennis Gannon, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, installed a plaque to the fallen labor heroes at the Haymarket Memorial and urged the crowds “to have courage as they had courage. We pledge, in their memory, to fight courageously for the Employee Free Choice Act and to fight for the rights of immigrant workers.”

Gannon said the fight for the EFCA must continue to focus on the electoral arena. He said, “Labor has to lead a fight to win bigger majorities for labor law reform in both houses of Congress and it must kick the Republicans out of the White House in ’08.”

Our thanks to the People’s Weekly World for the report. They always have excellent coverage of May Day events.