Card Check: The Goal is to Hamper Competitiveness?

By November 22, 2008Economy, Labor Unions

MSNBC’s Tom Curry reviews one aspect of the debate over federal aid to the domestic auto industry, “‘Card check’ best hope for auto workers union?” The answer is surely no, of course not, are you serious? Mickey Kaus at Slate rebuts one argument by supporters of the Employee Free Choice Act:

The New Plan? Cripple Honda! Save Detroit with Card Check! Eliminating the secret ballot and making it easier to organize U.S. Honda and Toyota workers (and imposing contract terms via binding arbitration) would “level the playing field,” says Dem. Congressman Tim Ryan. … Then when Honda and Toyota responded by importing more cars from abroad, we could have import quotas! Eventually the whole automotive sector could be planned by Congress in conjunction with existing business and labor interest groups. Red State has seen the future and it is corporatist. …12:21 P.M.

The answer to Detroit’s problem is not to make other automakers in the United States less competitive through passage of the anti-democratic Employee Free Choice Act, forcing unwilling employees into unions that would impose rigid, costly work rules.

The story features another argument:

UAW ally Rep. Dale Kildee, D- Mich., who was represents Flint, Mich., the city where GM was born, said that joining a union is only the first step.

“After you get recognized, you still have to bargain,” he pointed out. “You can get recognized under the Employee Free Choice method or the election method. It’s what happens afterwards in the bargaining that really determines the differences (in wages).”

Actually, passage of the Employee Free Choice Act would discourage good-faith bargaining by newly recognized unions. If the union can prevent completion of a first contract within a brief 120 days, a federal arbitrator imposes — imposes — binding arbitration on the parties for two years. No negotiation or renegotiation is possible, even if the contract proves to be completely unfair to one side or another, even if the contract destroys a company’s ability to compete.

These are among the many, many reasons that employers regard the Employee Free Choice Act not just as anti-democratic, but also disruptive and destructive. To reaffirm those arguments, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace this week sent a letter to members of Congress reminding them of them of the strong, even passionate opposition to the card check legislation.

From the news release and letter:

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, a group of more than 500 organizations, is united in opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act because we believe this bill severely undermines long standing principles of balance and fairness in federal labor law. Make no mistake; the purpose of EFCA is not labor law reform. The legislation is a dramatic assault on the rights of employees and employers that threatens to severely undermine any chance at a constructive dialogue on labor law reform.
The key provisions in this legislation represent egregious attempts to limit the rights of employees and employers and will severely diminish the ability of U.S. business to succeed in our globally competitive market.

The letter lists the members of the Coalition, which includes the National Association of Manufacturers. 

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