Controversy Ahead as Employee Free Choice Act Introduced in Congress

This proposed legislation has created unflinching positions for proponents and opponents.

Called Card Check legislation, if passed into law it would amend current labor law to permit the National Labor Relations Board to certify union representation if a simple majority of employees sign a card requesting it, no further voting needs to be undertaken. Currently an election by card check or secret ballot is held if 30% of employees request union representation.

This legislation was introduced in the last Congressional session, the 110th. It passed the House but didn’t muster enough votes in the Senate to become law. This session, the 111th, offers a different landscape. There is a greater number of Democrats who support the Card Check legislation and President Obama has been in favor of it, as well.

Speaking in support of the legislation, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Dem.-MA) said, “The current crisis has shown us the dangers of an economy that leaves working families behind. The people who work in our factories, build our roads, and care for our children are the backbone of this great nation. The Employee Free Choice Act will give these hardworking men and women a greater voice in the decisions that affect their families and their futures. It’s a critical step toward putting our economy back on track, and I hope that we can act quickly to send it to the President’s desk."

An opposing view was taken by the 500-member Coalition for a Democratic Workplace in a letter to Members of Congress. It said, in part, “This legislation poses not only an assault on an individual’s right to privacy, but a direct threat to economic growth and job creation. Particularly at a time of economic uncertainty, Congress should not enact measures that threaten our economic competitiveness, including the Employee Free Choice Act. Furthermore, this legislation would have a particularly devastating impact on small employers who are the primary source for new jobs in our economy.”

Stay tuned. These are only the opening salvos in what will be an emotional, tough series of volleys back and forth as Card Check moves its way through Congress.

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