It came to light that the CEOs of Starbucks, Costco and Whole Foods are considering supporting a “compromise” on the Employee Free Choice Act. These three companies have formed a “Committee to Level the Playing Field“. Our economy can’t afford ANY form of that horrible bill. Although we haven’t seen the exact details of the proposal, we’re hearing the Lanny Davis is spearheading the effort. There has been much speculation by the press of what the compromise may look like.
The group has circulated six principles that include concessions to labor-most notably agreeing to let employees join a union by signing an authorization rather than voting to do so, but only if 70% of employees sign-but also the right for employers to initiate a union decertification proceeding.
Their proposal would maintain management’s right to demand a secret ballot election, and would leave out binding arbitration. The proposal would keep the third main element of the “card-check” bill — toughening the penalties for companies that retaliate against workers before union elections or refuse to engage in collective bargaining. But it would also toughen penalties for union violations, and it would make it easier for businesses to call elections to try to decertify a union.
To address labor’s concern that businesses intimidate workers before elections, it would set a fixed period in which an election must be held, limiting the delays that give employers time to exert pressure. The proposal does not specify what the time period should be.
Big Labor wants nothing less that EFCA’s passage in its current form. However, this effort to seek an alternative sends a clear message that the 60 votes necessary to get the EFCA through the Senate, just aren’t there.
Labor unions also expressed opposition to the Starbucks-led effort to find an alternative. “What we have consistently heard from the business community is that there is no compromise,” said Stewart Acuff, an assistant to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. “We expect to pass it the way it is now.”
Using EFCA as the starting point for any legislation is a fundamentally flawed premise. Despite these three companies, there aren’t any cracks forming in the business community. Members of Congress are hearing from manufacturers and their employees and clearly it’s working. Supporting a jobs-killing bill is a tough pill to swallow on Capitol Hill these days. But versions of it that are slightly less bad are still horrible ideas.
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