Card Check: Sen. Webb and Other Developments

By April 20, 2009Labor Unions

The Washington Post’s Plum Line blog reports, “Another Key Dem Senator Won’t Say Whether He’ll Cast Key Vote For EFCA”:

This one is very, very bad news for the Employee Free Choice Act: Senator Jim Webb, who was thought by labor to be supportive of the measure, now won’t say whether he’ll cast a key vote for it.

Worse, his office says he views this as a bad time to be introducing the legislation — a potentially serious blow, because Webb is generally seen as strong on labor issues.

“He doesn’t believe this is the appropriate time to introduce this legislation or to be debating it,” Webb spokesperson Jessica Smith confirms to me. “He’s always been a strong supporter of the right to collective bargaining, but as written, he would look towards improving the legislation in a way to make it more fair and equitable.”

Seems like the Senator is listening to his constituents, who must overwhelmingly oppose card check’s attack on the secret ballot and workplace flexibility. The enthusiastic unveiling last week of Virginians for Workplace Fairness certainly made that opposition clear.

Elsewhere, we highly recommend this Cincinnati Enquirer column by Peter Bronson, “Free Choice Act’ removes workers’ choices” drawing on the experience of Cintas employees who resisted union harassment (Unite Here’s illegal use of license plates to track them down). And what about transparency by organizers?

“Right now in America, the people who don’t understand it are the ones who will be targeted – the average American worker,” said Cintas director Scott Farmer. “The politicians won’t educate them. The unions won’t educate them. So it has to be up to the employers to educate them on what it means to sign a card.”

For now, signing a union card is just the first step. If enough cards are signed, an election is held with secret ballots. If the majority votes yes, the union wins.

But card check allows no secret ballot. Signing a card is the first and last step. As soon as 51 percent can be pestered, intimidated or paid to sign cards, the union is certified.

“What I don’t hear anyone talking about is the legal obligations to people who sign the card,” Farmer said.

He waved a thick stack of paper – 130 pages of union bylaws, dues and fines. None of that is on the cards. “I can’t think of any other contract that doesn’t disclose that kind of thing,” he said.

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