Card Check: What’s In Store

By October 27, 2008Labor Unions

Forecasting a possible labor agenda under an Obama Administration the WSJ outlines today that includes many familiar items — the Employee Free Choice Act — and some not so familiar, including the RESPECT Act, as well some lesser known provisions within the card check bill such as language to impose binding arbitration for first contracts. The column’s summary of the mandatory arbitration provisions is the most concise argument against the card-check bill that’s out there.


Another labor-friendly provision of the Employee Free Choice Act is mandatory arbitration. Under current law, labor and management are required to bargain in good faith but aren’t obliged to reach an agreement. Under Mr. Obama’s proposal, if the parties can’t settle on a contract within 120 days, the dispute goes to an arbitration panel which can impose a contract that is binding for two years.


As a practical matter, contracts typically involve dozens of provisions dealing with wages as well as seniority, grievances, overtime, transfers and promotions. Rarely is this accomplished in four months. The provision would notably shift bargaining power to unions, which would have an incentive to run out the 120-day clock and let an arbitrator impose a contract that is bound to include much of what unions demand.


Other points included in the column:


  • Senator Obama’s support for the RESPECT Act. This seemingly innocuous bill would drastically amend the National Labor Relations Act to change the legal definition of a supervisor. The result would place many supervisors in the same bargaining unit as their subordinates. As clear conflict of interest;
  • The Senator would bar companies from replacing striking workers; 
  • Sen. Obama’s plans would also force state and local governments to recognize union leaders as the exclusive bargaining agent for first responders instead of allowing these important public servants to negotiate directly with their employers.
  • Additionally, the column states that Sen. Obama is against states’ rights to pass Right to Work laws that protect employees that refuse to join a union or pay union dues.


In other related news, House Republican Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) opines in other plans to implement big labor’s agenda. His piece focuses on the impact of EFCA and Sen. Obama’s position on the bill. Boehner speculates that if EFCA passes “With the stroke of a pen, a time-honored right [to secret ballot union elections] would be signed away into the pages of history.

Keith Smith

Keith Smith

Senior Vice President at National Association of Manufacturers
Keith Smith serves as senior vice president of public affairs and mobilization at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). He helps lead the association’s issue advocacy campaigns as well as the NAM’s national grassroots advocacy network.
Keith Smith

Join the discussion 2 Comments

Leave a Reply