EFCA Archives - Shopfloor

Questions for AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka at the Press Club

By | Energy, Labor Unions | One Comment

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka speaks at a National Press Club luncheon on Friday, an appearance billed thusly:

Trumka will speak out on recent efforts to curb collective bargaining rights in several states, including Wisconsin and Ohio. He also will discuss the political outlook for the 2012 elections, and the impact of austerity budgets on local, state and federal workers.

All good topics. Here are a few others that the reporters could raise during the Q&A period that traditionally follows Press Club remarks.

  • In a January 2010 National Press Club appearance you said: “I think you will see the Employee Free Choice Act pass in the first quarter of 2010.” And …”The president fully supports the Employee Free Choice Act, the Vice President fully supports the Employee Free Choice Act, a vast majority of the members of the House support the Employee Free Choice Act, a vast majority of the people of the Senate support the Employee Free Choice Act. And I think we are going to have the Employee Free Choice Act despite the determined efforts of the Republican Party.” So were you shining us on, deceiving your membership for tactical reasons, or are you just a lousy prognosticator? Did the failure of card check reflect organized labor’s lack of political influence? Your own lack of influence?

  • AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka addresses anti-coal crowd at April rally. (Photo: Energy Action Coalition)

  • You began your career as a coal miner and served as President of the United Mine Workers before being elected to head the AFL-CIO. Yet at an April “Power Shift” rally in front of the White House, you joined environmental activists in demanding “clean energy” policies in which coal has no role. Demonstrators held signs declaring “Coal is Over” and “No More Coal!” (More photos here and here.) How can you, as a union president, make common cause with activists who want to shut down the coal industry?

  • AFL-CIO affiliated unions are members of the Blue-Green Alliance, which includes such organizations as the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Many people regard these groups as hostile to the industrial base of this nation’s economy. How do you reconcile union support for this alliance? According to a Department of Commerce study, green products and services account for at most 2 percent of private sector activity. How you can justify spending member dues on groups who have such a narrow focus and whose policies would eliminate unionized jobs in the energy and manufacturing sectors?

  • Do you believe nuclear power has a role in America’s future energy production? Because AFL-CIO member unions are sending member dues to a group that includes the Union of Concerned Scientists, one of the major opponents of nuclear energy.

  • Should a company that currently has unionized operations in a state ever be allowed to locate new operations in a right-to-work state?

Report to U.N.: Wonder What Bills the Administration Means

By | General, Labor Unions | 2 Comments

We wrote Tuesday about the U.S. State Department’s document, “Report of the United States of America Submitted to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights In Conjunction with the Universal Periodic Review.” The Obama Administration’s report, released first in September and then formally submitted last week in Geneva, appears to curry favor with the United Nations by highlighting America’s shortcomings.

Except in many cases these shortcomings are in the fact policy disagreements. To even suggest that the United States falls short in the area of human rights because it has not enacted the Paycheck Fairness Act is an insult to those who believe that employers, not the federal government (or trial lawyers), bear ultimate responsibility for determining an employee’s compensation.

The report also scores the United States in the area of freedom of association.

23. Freedom of association also protects workers and their right to organize. The labor movement in the United States has a rich history, and the right to organize and bargain collectively under the protection of the law is the bedrock upon which workers are able to form or join a labor union. Workers regularly use legal mechanisms to address complaints such as threats, discharges, interrogations, surveillance, and wages-and-benefits cuts for supporting a union. These legal regimes are continuously assessed and evolving in order to keep pace with a modern work environment. Our UPR consultations included workers from a variety of sectors, including domestic workers who spoke about the challenges they face in organizing effectively. Currently there are several bills in our Congress that seek to strengthen workers’ rights—ensuring that workers can continue to associate freely, organize, and practice collective bargaining as the U.S. economy continues to change.

What bills could the State Department possibly be referring to?

Hah. Obviously, it’s the Employee Free Choice Act. No other legislation is as topical. This is the bill that would replace the secret ballot in union elections with the “card check” process of an employee publicly signing a card, opening the employee to pressure and intimidation by union organizers.

That’s right: Only by eliminating the secret ballot can America “strengthen workers’ rights” and rise to the United Nation’s high standards on human rights. Read More

Card Check: Voters Saying, Yes, We Believe in Secret Ballots

By | Labor Unions | 2 Comments

In a multistate rebuke to organized labor, voters in four states are approving measures to reaffirm the sanctity of the secret ballot. No Employee Free Choice Act for us, they say.

South Carolina, AP, “SC voters OK right to secret ballot in union votes

South Dakota, Constitutional Amendment K: “An Amendment to Article VI of the South Dakota Constitution relating to the right of individuals to vote by secret ballot. Precincts: 578/791
Yes 78.46%
No 21.52%

In Utah, Constitutional Amendment A is leading in early balloting, 58-42 percent.

And in Arizona, Proposition 113 is winning 61-39 percent.

Card Check: Union Leader Implies Lame-Duck Push for EFCA

By | General, Labor Unions | No Comments

It’s hard to imagine, but AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka continues to claim that there will be action on the Employee Free Choice Act. It’s not clear he’s referring to Congressional action, but in an online chat Thursday, he used the phrase, “before the end of the year.” A reference to a lame-duck push?

In response to a question from Marti in California about the Employee Free Choice Act, Trumka said:

There is no question the Employee Free Choice Act has to become law and workers need it. EFCA is necessary so more people can get bargaining power and we can get fair share of  the economic pie.

The Republicans are locked in against but we have we have president who supports it along with vast majority of the House and Senate and the public… We’re working on it every day.. .Stay tuned because before the end of the year, you are going to hear something about the Employee Free Choice Act because we are working on it every day.

The comments suggest a question that should be posed to incumbents members of Congress running for re-election: “No matter what the outcome of the Nov. 2 election, will you commit to voting against the Employee Free Choice Act or any other similar expansion of labor union power in a lame-duck session of Congress?”

We add the qualifier “or any other similar expansion” because there may be an attempt to enact single elements from the Employee Free Choice Act that would give labor unions a free hand to force a union certification or favorable first contract (through binding arbitration).

Labor Policy Round-Up

By | Human Resources, Labor Unions | One Comment

Yee-haw – we felt it was about time that we did another labor round up at the shopfloor.org corral.

Recusal refusal: The Wall Street Journal echoed our concerns with the National Labor Relations Board when it published an editorial earlier that examines recess-appointed NLRB member Craig Becker’s conflict of interest with his consideration of NLRB cases that involve his former employers – the AFL-CIO and the SEIU. 

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes: Can’t help but to think of the lyrics of the old Bowie tune when we learned of Anna Burger’s impending departure from the labor groups Change to Win and the SEIU: “I still don’t know what I was waiting for And my time was running wild”. And run wild they did. During Ms. Burger’s time the labor group has tirelessly advocated expanding government, the jobs-killing Employee Free Choice Act and radical changes at the NLRB to seat one of their own (Craig Becker.) Perhaps she realized: “Every time I thought I’d got it made It seemed the taste was not so sweet.”

When the Data Doesn’t Help Your Case, Question the Data! The top brass over at OSHA have had a hard timing understanding why injury and illness rates have shown such marked improvement over the years. So instead of acknowledging that America’s workplaces were getting safer, they questioned the accuracy of the data. In October of last year the agency launched an initiative to ferret out an alleged widespread underreporting of workplace safety incidents by employers. However, the agency quietly “paused” the program recently as regional OSHA officials expressed doubts about the program’s effectiveness, saying they were not finding significant violations.

Labor in Focus in the Rocky Mountain State: EFCA will continue to be an issue during the midterm elections. After this week’s primary elections in Colorado the voters will face a decision between two candidates that have different approaches to the card check legislation. There is incumbent Senator Michael Bennet who has not taken a clear position on the jobs-killing bill and Ken Buck, Weld County district attorney, strongly opposes the measure.

Problems with EFCA in the Mountain State: West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, the Democratic frontrunner in the U.S. Senate race for the late Sen. Byrd’s seat, has said he has doubts about the card check legislation if it hasn’t made it through a Democratic-controlled administration and Congress. ‘I told labor, “Something is wrong with that piece of legislation if you haven’t been able to get it passed by now,”’ Manchin said.”  Something wrong? The fact that the legislation would cost 600,000 Americans their jobs shows just how wrong it is.

We hope all candidates will realize the devastating economic impact that card check and related proposals will have on our economy and join the NAM in rejecting the misguided legislation.

Card Check and the Colorado Senate Race

By | Labor Unions | 2 Comments

The Employee Free Choice Act played a much smaller role in the Senate Democratic primary in Colorado than it did in the Arkansas primary, or so it seems to us (having followed the races from afar).

Organized labor wanted to punish Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) for her criticisms of union-backed policies like the Employee Free Choice Act, but she handily defeated their favored candidate, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. In Colorado, both the incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet (appointed in January 2009) and his challenger, former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, had their labor support.

Still, Romanoff endorsed the Employee Free Choice Act, while Bennet avoided taking a position on the anti-democratic legislation, labor’s No. 1 priority. Most notably, Bennet did not cosponsor the bill, S. 560, in the U.S. Senate.

And in the end, Bennet won with a healthy margin of victory, 54-46 percent.

Bennet will face Ken Buck, Weld County district attorney, who defeated former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, 51.5-48.4 percent in the Republican primary. He opposes the Employee Free Choice Act in clear terms.

Here’s how Buck responded to a Denver Post candidates’ survey question on the issue:

Ken Buck: EFCA seeks to undermine the privacy of voting in unionizing elections. By implementing a “card check” system, EFCA would undermine individuals the right to cast a private ballot. Citizens of our country should have the freedom to vote how they want without the fear of retribution. EFCA also requires mandatory arbitration. This requirement inhibits the union employees’ and employers’ ability to negotiate. The inclusion of a third party in such conflict complicates and undermines the process.

We would expect the Employee Free Choice Act to be an issue in the general election, with voters demanding that Sen. Bennet address his support or opposition to the bill with more specificity.

Card Check: AFL-CIO’s Trumka Says Employee Free Choice Act Will Come Up

By | Economy, Labor Unions | 5 Comments

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, was on the CSPAN “Newsmakers” show this morning. Asked whether the Employee Free Choice Act will be considered in Congress this year, Trumka said: “I think you’ll see the Employee Free Choice Act come up again. I think you’ll see it probably before the end of the year.”

Before the elections or in a lameduck session? Trumka: “Either one.”

The reason the Employee Free Choice Act has not passed Congress is because 40 Senate Republicans have blocked it, he said.

Oh, pshaw, Trumka. The reason EFCA has not passed is because the American people are overwhelmingly opposed to what the bill would do, opponents have made an effective case that “card check” and forced unionization are antithetical to democratic principles and economic growth. The legislation is extraordinarily unpopular, which is why key Senate Democrats joined Republicans in preventing the bill’s consideration on the floor this Congress.

If it were popular, the President would have already signed the Employee Free Choice Act into law instead of planning to put its provisions into effect through Executive Orders, presidential nominations, and regulatory enactments. (See Shopfloor post, “If EFCA Won’t Pass the Senate, We’ll Turn to Federal Labor Boards.

Trumka also continued pounding the table for more federal stimulus spending, dismissing concerns about the federal deficit, saying we have a jobs crisis in this country, not a deficit crisis. (UPDATE, 10:58 a.m.: Here’s the exact quote: “We have a job crisis right now, we don’t have a debt crisis right now. The only thing that can possibly make this recession, and this recovery from not stalling and going back into recession is if government continues to do some stimulus spending. And unfortunately, the states aren’t in a position to do that, so it’s going to take aid from the federal government.”)

CSPAN Radio will re-run the interview, about 30 minutes worth, at 6 p.m. Eastern.

UPDATE (11:20 a.m.): An interviewer asks, well, if the Employee Free Choice is so popular, and Democrats control the House and Senate, why haven’t the Democrats brought it to the floor for a vote? Trumka:

The President supports it, the vice president supports it, a vast majority of the House support it, a vast majority of the Senate report [sic] it, and like a hundred and some other bills in this country, 40 Republicans said we’re saying no to everything, and so they’ve stopped it.

It has come to the House and the Senate, remember? It passed by a large majority in the House. It’s been in the Senate where 40 Republicans have said no, just like they’ve said no to extensions of unemployment benefits, to help for state and local government, they’ve said no to everything. It doesn’t surprise us they’ve said no.

UPDATE (11:50 a.m.): Let’s be more accurate about the recent legislative history of the Employee Free Choice Act. In the 110th Congress, 2007-2008, H.R. 800 was introduced on Feb. 5, 2007. It passed the House on March 1, 2007. In the U.S. Senate, the bill failed to achieve cloture on June 26, 2007, with a vote of 51-48, short of the 60 votes needed. The only Republican to vote for cloture was Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylania, who subsequently became a Democrat (and who lost his party primary this spring). Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) was absent.

In the current 111th Congress, H.R. 1409 was introduced in the House on April 29, 2009, referred to committee, with no subsequent action. In the Senate, S. 560 was introduced on March 10, 2009 and referred to committee, with no subsequent action. From July (Sen. Franken’s swearing in) to December 2010 (Sen. Scott Brown’s arrival) the Democrats enjoyed a 60-vote majority in the Senate — enough to invoke cloture — but leadership chose not to pursue a vote because several members of the caucus would have voted no.

The portion of the interview concerning the Employee Free Choice Act is here as an .mp3 file. The host is Bill Scanlan and the interlocutors are David Catanese of Politico.com and Victoria McGrane of Dow-Jones.

Edited and updated for clarity, style.

Card Check, the AFL-CIO, and President Obama’s Remarks

By | Labor Unions, Regulations | No Comments

We couldn’t have said it better,” one of the AFL-CIO’s bloggers posted about President Obama’s answer to the question posed to President Obama on Wednesday by union President Richard Trumka. Or differently, one supposes.

The NAM’s Keith Smith reacted to the President’s remarks in a Shopfloor post yesterday, “If EFCA Won’t Pass the Senate, We’ll Turn to Federal Labor Boards.” The Bloomberg story, “Obama Tells Labor Leaders He’ll Pursue Union-Friendly Agenda,” reported the NAM’s objections to the strategy of using Executive Branch agencies to push through labor’s policy priorities that could not make it through Congress.

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, reports on other business groups disturbed by President’s appeals and alliance with Big Labor. From “Obama Seeks to Reassure Labor of Support“:

Glenn Spencer, an executive director with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, challenged Mr. Obama’s continued support of the Employee Free Choice Act. “We welcome the president’s call to rebuild our economy,” said Mr. Spencer, but “imposing government-dictated union contracts on employers won’t help.” He added that “overbearing regulations” from the Department of Labor or “a slanted” NLRB would only discourage America’s job creators from putting people back to work.

And Katie Packer, executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute observed, “Worse yet, Obama supports going around the legislative branch and using unelected members of regulatory agencies to enact Big Labor’s agenda of forced unionization.”

If EFCA Won’t Pass the Senate, We’ll Turn to Federal Labor Boards

By | Human Resources, Labor Unions | 6 Comments

In remarks to the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council today President Obama again reiterated the Administration’s commitment to seek passage of the jobs-killing Employee Free Choice Act. The President told the assembled group of labor union officials:

Getting EFCA through the Senate is gonna be tough, but we’re going to keep on pushing.

President quickly followed that statement up affirming the Administration’s plans to use federal regulatory agencies to implement labor’s agenda. The President said officials have already made numerous policies changes through pro-union executive orders and appointments at both the National Mediation Board and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The President said:

My administration has consistently implemented not just legislative strategies but also where we have the power through executive orders to make sure that those basic values are reflected.

He said that the fight for EFCA in the Senate will be tough but “Our work doesn’t stop there. There is a reason why we nominated people the National Mediation Board.” He said “we’re going to make sure that the National Labor Relations Board is restored…”

The President is conceding what we (employers) have consistently warned against: In failing to push through Congress the policies demanded by labor like card check legislation, he is instead using the Executive Branch and regulatory agencies to achieve the same policy end. The outcome will be a system that increases labor-management conflict, undermines the dynamic labor marketplace, and adds huge new costs to U.S. businesses struggling to create jobs and stay competitive in the global economy.

But in doing so, the President circumvents Congress and, we contend, the majority of the American people who do not embrace an economy dominated by labor.

Jobs or Members?

By | Human Resources, Labor Unions | 2 Comments

As the AFL-CIO prepares for a visit from President Barack Obama on Wednesday the labor group has announced plans for an aggressive push for political engagement from its member unions. The AP’s Sam Hananel reports that the group has “…lingering irritation that Democrats could not muster enough support to pass legislation that would make it easier for unions to organize workers.” The legislation in question is the Employee Free Choice Act, which would effectively do away with secret-ballot elections in favor of a card check system of union recognition.

Despite the unhappiness, AFL-CIO deputy political director Mike Podhorzer said that the AFL-CIO had “…high hopes that Congress would do more to create jobs.” Interesting comment from organized labor if, as leaders claim, their highest priority is the Employee Free Choice Act. As we have noted numerous times that the legislation has been estimated to destroy 600,000 jobs in the first year after enactment. In a way, Congress has protected the jobs of 600,000 Americans by not passing this legislation.

It leads me to wonder – are labor leaders truly committed to jobs creation or are they more interested in artificially growing their membership by forcing workers into unions? If they are focused on jobs creation, then they should cease their support for jobs-killing legislation.