The Employee Free Choice Act and right-to-work states

As we have stated in previous posts, the EFCA would dramatically overhaul the National Labor Relations Act, specifically by allowing for easier routes to unionization through card-check procedures and by foregoing secret ballot elections.

Should the EFCA be passed, this poses an interesting question: what effect will this have on right-to-work states?

Right to work laws, which are currently in effect in 22 states, prohibit unions from making membership in the union or payment of union dues a condition of employment, either before or after hire.

Generally speaking, right-to-work states are composed mainly of southern states. These states have constantly sought more and more manufacturing jobs from northeastern states, selling companies on their lower unionization rates and lower cost of living. This strategy has paid off as more and more of these jobs have migrated south in recent decades, paving the way for increased economic strength of southern states.

As some of our readers point out, the EFCA, as a federal law, would not change right-to-work laws in those states; however it begs the question, should the EFCA lead to increased unionization rates as expected, will this lead to increased unionization rates in right-to-work states?

This is a situation worth watching, because the EFCA could have a dramatic ripple effect throughout much of the country.

Music City makes a push for the EFCA

The Employee Free Choice Act might currently be stalled in Congress, but that has not stopped some legislators down in Rocky Top to send a request to their Senators to vote for the EFCA. Nashville Metro Council is planning on sending a request to Tennessee Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker to vote for the Employee Fee Choice Act.

Ironically, Tennessee as a right-to-work state has benefited tremendously from the low unionization rate in the state. The passage of the EFCA, which would make it far easier for workers to form unions would likely have a detrimental effect on the state's economic growth.

Obama plays catch-up in the fight for union votes

With the Presidential Primaries just around the corner, Democrat candidates are jockeying for support amongst national labor unions. On the heels of John Edwards’ impressive support from unions, Barack Obama has begun openly courting support from other unions in Iowa.

In a recent speech in Iowa, Obama highlighted his plans for the union movement in America, stating:

We're ready to take the offense for organized labor. It's time we had a President who didn't choke saying the word "union." We need to strengthen our unions by letting them do what they do best - organize our workers. If a majority of workers want a union, they should get a union. It's that simple. We need to stand up to the business lobby that's been getting their friends in Congress and in the White House to block card check. That's why I was one of the leaders fighting to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. That's why I'm fighting for it in the Senate. And that's why we'll make it the law of the land when I'm President.

In what is likely to be a very close race for the Democratic Party nomination, successful candidates will need en masse support from unions to turn out the vote on primary day. With unions declaring the EFCA to be their number one priority in the 2008 elections, Democrat candidates are forced into the position of supporting this legislation in order to get elected, making the threat of its passage all the more real.

Edwards endorses EFCA; SEIU endorses Edwards

Although the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) announced that it would forego endorsing a presidential candidate on a national level, Service Employee International Union chapters in twelve states have endorsed the candidacy of John Edwards.

John Edwards has already received endorsements from SEIU chapters in the two crucial primaries’ states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Edwards has been one of the primary supporters of the Employee Free Choice Act, which unions have declared as be their primary issue in the 2008 election.  

NLRB declares political neutrality on the EFCA

As the 2008 presidential campaign heats up, so does the campaign to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. However, the National Labor Relations Board is staying far away from this hot topic. 

The NLRB's General Counsel, Ronald Meisburg, said that his role precludes him from taking sides on labor issues.  “We don’t grind an ax,” Meisburg said last week. “We don’t care who wins. It’s important we leave alone the partisan political battles on Capitol Hill.”

The EFCA is currently stalled in the Senate after being passed in the House of Representatives, but is expected to loom large during the 2008 election campaign.