Dems Put EFCA on the Backburner


With the Democrat-dominated Congress already getting to work on a number of employee-friendly pieces of legislation such as the Lilly Ledbetter Act, Congressional leaders have indicated that passage of the EFCA is not their first priority. 

According to Rep. George Miller, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Labor Committee, the EFCA will be dealt with—in due course. 

However, according to Mr. Miller, “[T]here are things that may be more urgent because of circumstances beyond our control. That doesn't diminish the urgency I feel or the supporters of the Employee Free Choice Act feel ... I am quite comfortable that this is going to receive timely treatment…”

It remains to be seen how patient organized labor will be with the new Congress, considering how much support they provided in the last election cycle, all conditioned on the passage of the EFCA. 

Why you don't have to hate unions to oppose the EFCA

If you are reading this blog posting, you are probably well-aware of the fact that it is on the web page of a law firm that represents management in employment matters. Here is a piece of information you do not have: This particular writer used to be a member of a union. That’s right. I was a member of a labor union and I was glad for it. After a few years anyway.

My initial reaction to starting my job and being told that all of the teachers in the NYC public school system are members of the union was, “Really? I don’t get to choose?” As I soon learned, I did not get to choose. The teachers who had come and gone before me had made the choice for me. Over the years, I came to appreciate the union. That did not, however, negate the fact that I had not chosen to become a member.

Now, with the passage of the EFCA looming in the horizon, I’ve had to think about what it means to choose union membership. If the EFCA is passed, workplaces may become unionized just by workers signing cards. That’s it. No private ballot, just your signature on a card.

Many people have questioned the freedom in that. Gone is the safety of knowing that no one will ever know where you put that “X” on the ballot. That safety seems to be important, though. It even seems to be important to Congressmen John D. Dingell (D-MI) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) who recently supported a private election in choosing the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. This even though they support the passage of the EFCA. (See a letter from the Alliance for Worker Freedom to Representatives Dingell and Waxman here. See how your representative voted here.) Clearly there must be some benefit to having a secret ballot election. But the EFCA supporters have lost sight of that. This new card-check process is going to come at a cost. I wonder whether they can appreciate what that cost might be. I know Congressmen Dingell and Waxman must have an idea.



Update--Case Dismissed

As an update to our readers--the complaints filed that we mentioned in our previous post have been dismissed without prejudice by the State of Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings.

The EFCA Fight Heats Up--In a Minnesota Courtroom

Article Prepared by Darren Rumack and Brian Caufield

The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party has filed complaints with the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings against two groups who oppose the EFCA, alleging that they made false advertising statements regarding Minnesota Senatorial candidate Al Franken, who supports the EFCA. 

The complaint challenges print ads stating that Franken supports the elimination of secret ballot votes for workers, and wants to end worker privacy. Of course, while Franken might not have come out and said that, the EFCA would do just that, by authorizing card check recognition, and doing away with secret ballot elections.  

As election season gets into full gear with the party conventions rapidly approaching, expect to hear more about the EFCA in the near future.

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.

EFCA tops AFL-CIO's priority list in 2008 election

The AFL-CIO announced plans to spend $53.4 million on grassroots outreach in the 2008 election cycle to back political candidates that support "workers' issues," such as healthcare and the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

With the AFL-CIO emphasizing the passage of the EFCA, this is sure to be a big domestic issue in the upcoming elections, with a greater focus on unions and the workplace than there has been in recent election cycles. 

EFCA to be Hot Button Issue in Presidential Primaries

With the Presidential Primaries just around the corner, candidates have taken sides on the EFCA. The three leading Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards have all come out in favor of passing the EFCA if elected.

In contrast, all Republican candidates are on record as opposing passage of the EFCA.  The five Republican candidates who are members of Congress all voted against the Employee Free Choice Act this year, and three other candidates—Vanderbilt Law alum and former Senator Fred Thompson, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani—all have expressed their opposition to the EFCA.