- SPECIAL REPORTS
- THE MAGAZINE
On March 10, The Employee Free Choice Act of 2009 (H.R. 1409, S. 560) was introduced to Congress. This bill, also known as “card check,” would amend the National Labor Relations Act to make it easier for employees to “form, join or assist labor organizations,” according to the language in the bill. A summary in OpenCongress notes that “Under the bill, workers would be able to decide whether to hold a secret ballot vote on union formation after a majority of employees have signed union authorization cards, or to have the union certified based on the cards alone. Under the current rules, employers have the power to make that decision. The bill also designates a time line for first contracts to be drawn up between unions and employees and stipulates that if no deal is reached within 120 days, an arbitration panel will render a decision that will be binding for two years. Finally, it would increase the fines employers must pay if found guilty of violating their employees' right to unionize.”
Susan Eckerly, senior vice president of public policy for the National Federation of Independent Business, issued a statement in reaction to the bill’s introduction: "For small business owners, it's a nightmare to see this bill resurrected from the grave in which the last Congress rightly laid it to rest. The Employee Free Choice Act will not only subvert a long-standing democratic process, it's an attempt to overturn more than 60 years of established labor law. The last thing small business owners need is a government official stepping to dictate the wages and benefits they offer their employees. … This was a bad bill in 2007 and the ensuing years haven't made it any more palatable. NFIB and its members will do everything in our power to defeat it again."
Other organizations, however, are supportive of the bill. The Economic Policy Institute has been actively lobbying on behalf of the bill. It recently published a report by John DiNardo, professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan, in which he concludes that unionized businesses are no more likely than nonunion ones to fail. “It’s ultimately an empirical question whether the simplest supply and demand story taught in introductory economics textbooks bears on the question of economic consequences of unionism on business failures – and the best evidence suggests that it does not,” DiNardo says.
At issue, however, is whether this bill truly serves the interests of the workers that it is intended to represent, or whether it’s primarily a political move to give labor unions more clout and easier access to potential new members. Instead of joining unions exclusively through secret ballot, workers could join simply by signing cards, which potentially increases the risk that they could be pressured into their decisions by union leaders. OpenCongress notes that “this bill is organized labor's number one legislative priority.” The bill is expected to be brought to the Senate for a vote sometime this summer.
What do you think? Is The Employee Free Choice Act a good idea? If it passes, what impact will it have on the surveying and mapping professions? Please share your thoughts below.
NOTE: For more comments on this topic, please see the following threads on RPLS.com:
Sight Lines: Employee Free Choice Act - Kristi Grahl (3/23/2009 4:36 AM)
Card Check and Unions - Bob Manley (3/24/2009 12:59 AM)