Retailers Push Card-Check Alternative

WASHINGTON—Costco Wholesale Corp., Starbucks Coffee Corp. and Whole Foods Market Inc. have formed the Committee for a Level Playing Field for Union Elections.

The purpose of the committee, according to the founders, is to offer a “third way” to reform labor law. The group supports a “new solution wholly distinct” from the recently introduced Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), also called the card-check bill. The committee opposes EFCA.

The CEOs of the companies—James Sinegal of Costco, Howard Schultz of Starbucks and John Mackey of Whole Foods Market—introduced a Statement of Principles that they say would level the playing field for union organizers.

Following is the statement:

1) Secret ballot. Guarantee the right of management and unions to require a secret ballot under all circumstances.

2) Certification and decertification treated equally. Permit management to initiate a decertification campaign through a secret ballot election just as employees and unions are presently able to initiate certification and decertification campaigns.

3) Date certain for elections. Guarantee a fixed time period for the secret-ballot election; i.e., do not permit delays of an established day for a secret ballot to certify or decertify a union.

4) Equal access to employees for campaign purposes. Level playing field for unions and management to access employees during non-working hours during the campaign period, e.g., permitting each to make presentations to employees at a neutral location concerning the issue of whether to form a union.

5) Expedited enforcement and stricter penalties. Expedited enforcement for serious and pervasive violations of law by labor and management and stricter penalties for serious and pervasive violations (e.g., unlawful discharges), including the penalty of mandatory injunctions when appropriate.

6) Preserve private collective bargaining. No mandatory arbitration that dictates contract terms, but stricter penalties and expedited enforcement for violations of good faith bargaining rules, including an expedited timetable to begin bargaining after union certification.

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