2009-03-26, 14:35

Rollercoaster week for Card Check Legislation

By: Multifamily Real Estate Industry Team
A couple of weeks ago on this blog, Charlie Edwards updated you on the introduction of H.R. 1409, The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), more commonly known as “Card Check.” If you are not familiar with this legislation, please take a moment to read this WCSR client alert: http://www.wcsr.com/resources/pdfs/le031209.pdf.

It has been a rollercoaster week for folks embroiled in the card check debate. The week started with the somewhat surprising announcement on Sunday, March 22, by the newly formed Committee for a Level Playing Field for Union Elections (headlined by Costco, Starbucks, and Whole Foods) that members of the Committee were supporting a “third way” proposal for card check legislation. (Full story here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/21/AR2009032101449.html).

Essentially, their plan is to guarantee unions worksite access to employees and timely elections while not allowing the stealthy sign-up and mandatory arbitration provisions supported by EFCA proponents. Thus far, this third way proposal has gained little traction. Opponents of card check legislation currently remain staunchly opposed. And although those in the pro-card check movement are spinning this as a sign that their side is gaining momentum, they are not yet willing to make such policy concessions, nor are their supporters in Congress. Sponsors of EFCA (Rep. Tom Harkin, D-IA, and Rep. George Miller, D-CA) even issued a sharp rebuke: http://edlabor.house.gov/newsroom/2009/03/miller-andrews-harkin-statemen.shtml.

Just a couple of days later, the momentum suddenly appears to have swung back in the other direction. The reason for this is an announcement by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) in a floor speech on Tuesday, March 24, that he will not cast the deciding vote to block a filibuster on the current legislation given the current state of the economy. While this could stall, if not kill, the legislation in the Senate for now, Specter has left open the possibility of making some concessions through select revisions to the National Labor Relations Act.

Specter’s full remarks and suggested revisions can be found here: http://specter.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=NewsRoom.NewsReleases&ContentRecord_id=39dce122-fce9-5df9-bc36-a3d7dc60fa54.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its annual report on the status of union organizing in the private sector, which highlights why this effort to encourage union victory is so critical to the future of Labor. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm
In the absence of some massive resuscitation, the union movement may find itself dealing with governmental employers and those in the private sector in heavily pro-Labor industries or localities.

(This entry posted by Fritz Vaughan, a member of Womble Carlyle's Government Relations team.)


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