EFCA UPDATE: Compromise on Employee Free Choice Act is still Poison to Small Business

“There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil….In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.”–Ayn Rand.

Following the New York Times announcement yesterday that Democrats are ready to drop the contentious card-check provision from the controversial and misleadingly-named Employee Free Choice Act, the Times is doing a follow-up piece today: ‘Card Check’ Concession Doesn’t Mollify Small Business.

In addition, according to CBS News, the story that ran in the Times may have been just floating a trial balloon.

But representatives on both sides of the issue signaled in interviews with Hotsheet Friday that they are skeptical of the Times report. Josh Goldstein of American Rights at Work said in an interview that it is “premature to make any assumptions about what’s going on in negotiations when the people who are in those negotiations are clearly stating that there is no deal.”

“As far as I know, majority sign up is still on the table,” he said. “And we’re still fighting for it.”

And Mark McKinnon of the Workforce Fairness Institute, a business group, told Hotsheet, “I don’t think it’s so much a compromise as it is a trial balloon.”

Whether or not card-check (aka “No-Vote Unionization”) makes it into a final bill is still uncertain. However, the internet rumor mill has it that a compromise (if there is any) may include:

  • 5-10 day elections following a union’s petition (as opposed to the current 42 days)
  • Banning employer-conducted so-called “captive audience meetings” or, absent that…
  • Requiring unions be given equal time in a company for persuading employees

According to the Times follow-up piece this morning:

“A quickie election in 5 to 10 days puts our guys at a huge disadvantage,” says Brad Close, National Federation of Independent Business’ (N.F.I.B) vice president for public policy. “They will be running around, trying to find a labor counsel to make sure that they run elections the correct way; they’ll have no time to talk to their employees. You’ve got to understand: the union organizers will have been talking to employees on their own, for months, probably, leading up to when this election gets called.” (Unions, of course, insist that the playing field is irredeemably tilted toward management, who can begin anti-union politicking the day an employee is hired.)

Molly Brogan, spokeswoman for the National Small Business Association (N.S.B.A.), adds that potential provisions that would grant unions access to company property for the campaign or limit a firm’s ability to discuss “the realities of unionization” are “nonstarters for the small-business community.”

In all cases, the one thing that has stayed consistent is union bosses’ insistence on including the job-destroying binding arbitration in any final bill.

“Our members hate the idea of losing a secret ballot election, but if you want to see their blood really boil, then explain to them the arbitration part of the bill,” Mr. Close says. “To them, it’s like turning the keys of their business over.”

Stay tuned to LaborUnionReport.com, as this fight is far from over.

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Filed under binding arbitration, Card-check, EFCA, Employee Free Choice Act, National Federation of Independent Business, National Small Business Association, New York Times

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