Card Check: A Question for the Confirmation Hearing

By January 29, 2010General, Labor Unions

Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee spoke with reporters on a conference call Thursday, with the fate of the Employee Free Choice Act the subject of a question. From The Iowa Independent:

“Well, it is still under consideration,” Harkin said. “We’ve been working all last year to try to reach some agreement on a modified version of it that would be acceptable. I think we came pretty close to that, but now with this vote in Massachusetts … we just don’t know.”

And …

“Let me put it this way, something has to be done to change the laws regarding the way we conduct union elections, how they are conducted. We’re looking at some proposals to do that. While it may not be card check as we know it, it will definitely be a change in the way we conduct elections,” he said.

Given the public’s overwhelming rejection of the anti-democratic legislation, there’s good reason to suspect one of these “proposals” will be to rush through a nominee’s confirmation to the National Labor Relations Board, where he can form a majority to accomplish the bill’s goals administratively. Thus, the Senate HELP Committee hearing next Tuesday and mark-up session Thursday on the nomination of SEIU lawyer Craig Becker.

If, as we assume, Mr. Becker appears before the committee, here’s a question a Senator might pose:

The July 2009 issue of Workforce Management Online carried an article, “NLRB Decisions Could Make Card Check a Reality.” In it, former NLRB Chairman William Gould said the board could reconsider past rulings on the need for elections in union representation decisions. Gould contends, and I quote, “The board could develop new expertise based on new evidence and new facts and come to a different conclusion. In my judgment, yes, the board could issue such a ruling.”

As I read him, Chairman Gould is saying that the NLRB has the authority to establish the kind of majority sign-up included in the Employee Free Choice Act. Do you agree?

Gould was one of 66 academics who signed a letter in support of Becker’s nomination.

Note: Spelling of Gould’s name corrected.

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