Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Union Card Check

The so-called card check issue is the basis for considerable political discussion concerning employee's rights to form a union. It is a contentious issue that many support and an apparent equal number oppose. So exactly what are the tenets of the proposed card check legislation that is currently stalled in congress?

Under present law, employees can form a union by signing a card expressing their desire to unionize. If 30% or more sign the cards, the cards are submitted to the National Labor relations Board (NLRB) who will organize a secret ballot election to determine the outcome of the employee desires to form a union. If more that 50% of the employees sign the cards then the union is presumed to exist by virtue of this card check process. However, an employer can request a secret ballot election that would challenge the card check process and therefore cause a formal secret ballot election to take place to determine the final outcome of the unionization process.

Unionization advocates want the current employer right to call for an election to be eliminated if 50% of employees vote to form a union based solely on the card check process. No secret ballot election would be necessary.

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) was introduced by Senator Kennedy (D-MA) in the Senate and is supported by Senator Schumer (D-NY) and others. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 241-185 in March 2007, but has been stalled by a filibuster in the US Senate.

The debate over card check is framed in several ways based on support or non-support of the issue.

Advocates for unionization state that without a union, employers will not recognize worker rights and will not implement job safety, pension plans or adequate health insurance without pressure from a union that supports employees. Advocates hope to obtain the necessary congressional votes to advance the legislation which was supported by President-elect Obama during his campaign.
Those that oppose the card check legislation state that the opportunity to vote using a secret ballot is being over turned. They believe the card check process will subject those that are asked to sign the cards to be exposed to unreasonable pressure by union organizing efforts. States that have right-to-work laws already champion worker rights concerning job safety, pension plans and adequate health insurance through state legislation and are concerned about unions replacing the state as the arbiter of employee rights and benefits.

Card check will continue to remain a contentious issue and ultimately the resolution may depend on the final make-up of the 111th Congress. Meanwhile, one can expect that card check will continue to be a topic on network and cable news television as well as a frequent topic in newspapers and editorials.