Card Check: Achieving Its Goals through the NLRB

By January 21, 2010Labor Unions

Wall Street Journal, “Labor Leaders Digest Senate Setback“:

Labor leaders met by phone Wednesday as the loss of a Democratic Senate seat and the specter of further party defeats in November threw unions’ legislative agenda into disarray and further diminished chances of passing a bill to ease organizing.

An honest assessment comes from Thomas Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists, who says: “”Personally I think that becomes a dead issue for the year 2010. It’s an election year and I think people are going to focus on what’s most important.”

But then, as Workforce Management reports, “Employee Free Choice Act Supporters Press On Despite Longer Senate Odds.” After all, the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka claimed just last week the bill would pass by April. And…

“It’s kind of now or never for them,” said Brett McMahon, vice president of Miller & Long, a concrete subcontractor and a member of Associated Builders and Contractors. “If the chances are [lower] now to get something done, they may become truly impossible in the next Congress.”

It does seem much less likely there will be an up-or-down Senate vote on the Employee Free Choice Act (S. 560), but that doesn’t mean portions of the legislation — ambush elections, for example, or binding arbitration — might be attached to other bills.

And if the legislative path is blocked, there’s always the regulatory/administrative approach. As we’ve noted previously, one of President Obama’s nominees to the National Labor Relations Board is Craig Becker, an SEIU counsel who contends the NLRB can prevent employer involvement when a union seeks to organize the business. Becker is a fervent supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act and card check’s elimination of secret ballot elections.

Becker’s nomination was returned to the White House on Dec. 24, and the President has yet to renominate him.  (UPDATE: Renominated Jan. 20, according to White New news release.) The Nation, the leftwing periodical, reports on the NLRB politics in “Obama’s Pro-Union Nominations to Labor Relations Board Stalled” and concludes:

The battle over nominations to the NLRB, even more than EFCA, may be what really determines the extent of labor’s gains under Obama. Should Obama persevere and see his nominations confirmed, there is reason to believe that much of what organized labor hopes to accomplish via EFCA will be realized through the rule-making power of the NLRB.

We agree with The Nation.

 

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