EFCA: Biden, Unions and Congress Start "The Dance"

The Employee Free Choice Act, popularily referred to as the “card check” bill was introduced into both houses of Congress on March 10th. Debate has started, but so far support has eroded for the bill in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The bill’s fate increasingly hinges on Sens. Blanche L. Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.) — two wavering moderates who would love to dodge the controversy. But the White House has pulled out the big guns for support. Vice President Joe Biden appeared in front of an executive meeting of the AFL-CIO. He was very vocal in his support of EFCA. According to Politico.com “Vice President Joe Biden wasn’t exactly restrained in remarks to an AFL-CIO gathering in Miami last Thursday, saying, ‘You all brought me to the dance a long time ago, and it’s time we start dancing.'”

The bill is significant. According to one study passage of the bill could eliminate over 600,000 jobs. Let me remind you of the provisions of the bill.
  1. EFCA would eliminate the secret ballot election that is normally required for your employees to select a union, and replace it with a much less formal “card check” process that is controlled by the union and is secretive, selective, and susceptible to abuse and coercion.
  2. Even more alarming are provisions in EFCA that would require so-called “interest arbitration” of the first contract once a union gets in. Under these provisions, if the first contract is not negotiated to conclusion between the parties within a relatively short 120-day period, the contract dispute would be referred to an arbitrator who would then determine the contract terms for a two-year period with no right of appeal.

Most of the attention has been focused on the first provision and there has been a backlash against it. Several states are even introducing legislation to preserve secret ballot elections in their states.

However, most labor negotiators that I know and have read about are more concerned with the second provision. Few first time contracts are negotiated in 6 months, much less 120 days. The failure to do so enforces an arbitrator designed contract, one that will not be in the best interest of the company.

I am playing “seer and soothesayer” and making a prediction. I predict we will see an attempt to “compromise” on the “card check” provision to make EFCA more palatable to the public while maintaining the more harmful “interest arbitration” provision.

I have written my Congressional representatives, both House and Senate, and expressed my opinion. I suggest you do the same. Guess we will have to see if President Obama is waiting to tap Joe Biden and cut in to dance with the AFL-CIO on this one. New Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has already been at the dance and has been filling in her dance card too.

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