Cutting a Deal on EFCA

July 17, 2009 9:53 am

I was pretty stunned to see the beginnings of a compromise coming into place this morning that would have the ‘card check’ provisions pulled from the Employee Free Choice Act. At least in the superficial debate, the two have been treated as more or less synonymous, though that’s clearly not case — I don’t think anyone would disagree that there are a number of other very important provisions in the bill.

Here’s what TPM Reader JS has to say …

I’m a labor attorney that has spent most of my career on management’s side. If you Google my name, that’s what you’ll find. Recently, I’ve started doing some employee-side work. Fwiw, my opinion is that this EFCA compromise is really what organized labor wants and has always wanted. Business took the bait with the card check issue and thought they had won.

Michael Fox, a labor attorney and blogger, says that card check has always just been a stalking horse for the other planks of EFCA. In fact, what gives angst to some conservative legal scholars more than the card check is the forced arbitration. Someone wrote an article (it was in the WSJ, I think) that the arbitration provision would be unconstitutional. The quickie elections are important to. I don’t agree with “stalking horse” exactly. To me it was more of a bargaining chip they were willing to sacrifice if needed.

The reason for this is clear to me: card check has not had a statistically significant impact on organizing success rates in jurisdictions where it has been tried. There are studies out there on Canada that show that. Getting a union recognized doesn’t matter if they union can’t negotiate a contract before people give up on them. Businesses will just hold out on a contract. This bill won’t let them do that. As for the quickie elections, it doesn’t give management enough time to wage their campaigns to be as effective in changing the vote.

If those two provisions pass, it’s probably the biggest labor law reform since Taft-Hartley in 1948, and unlike that law, it’s a huge win for labor.

If you look at Brian’s update from this morning at TPMDC, there does seem to be a basic cleavage in the responses from the AFL-CIO and Andy Stern/SEIU. In any case, I know there are a lot of labor movement readers we have. So I’m very curious to hear what people think of today’s developments.

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