Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Employee Free Choice Bill Battle Is Joined

The Employee Free Choice Bill Battle Is Joined; The Washington Post

Get ready for one of the nastiest fights of President Obama's still young first term. As supporters of the Employee Free Choice Act prepared to introduce it in the Senate, opponents of the labor rights bill came out in force. ...

The bill has two main elements. It would give workers the option of forming unions by getting a majority of workers to sign cards to join without having to hold a secret ballot election. (Current law leaves it up to employers to decide whether workers must hold an election or can organize via "card check.") And it mandates that -- if employers and workers cannot reach a contract within 120 days -- a government arbitrator intervene and set terms.

Workers say the first provision is needed because employers now intimidate workers in the run-up to elections, making them something other than a democratic vote, and that the second provision is needed because employers sometimes go years without agreeing to a contract. Employer groups counter that the first provision would expose workers to union intimidation and that the second one would allow the government to interfere in how they run their business.

There is majority support for the bill in both chambers of Congress, but labor supporters need 60 votes in the Senate to prevent a filibuster. That probably means the unions will need to hang onto the 52 votes the bill got when introduced under President Bush, and snagging support from every one of the eight Democrats added to the Senate in 2008, including Al Franken, if he is finally seated. ...

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