Card Check: You Surrender and Die, We’ll Call It ‘Compromise’

By November 26, 2008Labor Unions

A post from Point of Law, the legal blog run by Walter Olson of the Manhattan Institute:

Critics of EFCA have concentrated most of their fire on the bill’s abolition of the right to a secret ballot before installing a union. But Michael Maslanka at Texas Lawyer suggests that union and Democratic strategists may be willing to trade off card check and instead accept some less radical alteration to current election procedures, such as snap elections in which employers would have relatively little time to make their case. That would furnish cover for pushing through EFCA’s other main provision, the one that hasn’t gotten so much attention, which would direct the imposition of an arbitrator-written union contract if the parties failed to reach one after the initial vote. “The unions will put up a fight on the secret ballot but won’t really care. …The gem of EFCA for unions is that they always, always, always get a contract. Sweet.”

Our suspicions are the same. Card check’s attack against the secret ballot is so egregious, running so contrary to the customs of American democracy, that we opponents have highlighted it. The public readily understands the argument, “They want to eliminate the secret ballot and replace it with a process that will allow union organizers to threaten you into joining…or else.”

Still, in the last half year or so, we’ve tried to talk more about the binding arbitration provisions, which are awful and anti-democratic in their own right. If an initial contract is not reached after 120 days, a government arbitrator comes in and simply imposes a contract on the  company and union for two years. If you run company in a hotly competitive industry and the arbitrator gets it wrong? Well, your company dies.

Compromise. Yeah, compromise.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer provided an indication that’s where the majority might be headed when he circumlocuted on the issue on Fox News Sunday.

We’re going to look at that. We’re going to see if there are modifications to it that can be effective. We’ll bring compromise. But we think, absolutely, American workers have the right to organize and be recognized.

Hoyer made similar comments at his November 18 news conference at the National Press Club.

QUESTION: Mr. Leader, how high a priority is the Employee Free Choice Act? And on that bill, are you going to negotiate with Republicans?

HOYER: The Employee Free Choice Act is high up on our agenda. We passed it early in the last session. It languished in the Senate. We believe very strongly that employees have not only the right to organize and bargain collectively for pay and benefits and working conditions, but that our economy is better off when that happens.

We also believe that it’s been very difficult for employees to get elections. There have been great delays, not enforcement of — by the NLRB of — against unfair labor practices.

So we — that’s an agenda high up on our — that is an item high up on our agenda. And we will be giving attention early on.

Will we discuss with others their views, including Republicans and the administration, their views on that? The answer is yes; we will be discussing that. And there are obviously various different views on that issue, but we intend to pursue it.

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