Employee Free Choice Act: How to kill jobs

The American business community, reeling from a recession that Congress and the Obama Administration may stretch into a depression, is making a last-ditch fight to save manufacturing in this country.

On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, introduced the jobs-killing Employee Free Choice Act. A study sponsored by the Associated Builders and Contractors and conducted by economist Anne Layne-Farrar of LECG Consulting finds this:

“For every 3 percentage points gained in union membership through card checks and mandatory arbitration, the following year’s unemployment rate is predicted to increase by 1 percentage point and job creation is predicted to fall by around 1.5 million jobs. Thus, if EFCA passed today and resulted in an increase in unionization from the current rate of about 12% to 15%, then unionized workers would increase from 15.5 to 19.6 million while unemployment a year from now would rise by 1.5 million, to 10.4 million. If EFCA were to increase the percentage of private sector union membership by between 5 and 10 percentage points, as some have suggested, my analysis indicates that unemployment would increase by 2.3 to 5.4 million in the following year and the unemployment rate would increase by 1.5 to 3.5 percentage points in the following year.”

The bill is Big Labor’s top priority. It would eliminate workers’ rights to a secret ballot, allowing unions to gain representation simply by showing cards signed by a majority of workers.Workers who might oppose unionization in a secret ballot could easily be intimidated into signing cards. And when the union and the company fail to agree after 90 days, a government arbitrator is brought in.

The prospect of higher taxes, more regulation, cap-and-trade and labor costs that employers can’t control are clear messages to manufacturers to take their businesses elsewhere. Those who can’t go will be knocking at government’s door demanding subsidies or the right to fix prices.

Some Democrats who previously supported the EFCA, including Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, are beginning to have second-thoughts. Well they should. This Congress and this Administration can turn a recession into a depression with an unnecessary and permanent loss of jobs.

96 comments Add your comment

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 12th, 2009
9:51 am

Good morning all. The proposed legislation does nothing to reduce costs for businesses – indeed, it promises only to raise labor costs. Businesses are rarely capable of raising prices during a recession, so the new costs of “Employee Free Choice” will not be passed along. There are no meaningful profits to absorb costs now.

In such an environment, employers have only the choice of “outsourcing” as a means of containing costs. India thanks the US Congress, Mexico thanks the US Congress, Philippines thanks the US Congress.

Churchill's MOM

March 12th, 2009
10:05 am

Looks like the Liberal Press is after our girl again.

Levi, Bristol break up

It’s true. You probably don’t believe it.

A source close to Bristol Palin, daughter of Sarah, mother to Tripp and her fiance, Levi Johnson, father of Tripp, told People the couple broke up a few weeks ago.

The mag reports:

“It kind of just happened,” says the source, referring to the split. “I thought they would stick it out. But I think they can work together to raise Tripp.”

“I’m not sure what caused [them to break up] – it’s common knowledge,” says another source who knows the family.

Despite the breakup, Levi still sees the couple’s son. Levi’s dad, Keith Johnston, told PEOPLE recently that his son is a devoted and “proud father.”

“As for how she is holding up after the split, the source tells PEOPLE: “Bristol’s doing okay. Tripp is fine.”

Dan

March 12th, 2009
10:05 am

Jim Wooten has been spitting out right-wing cliches for years, and I usually ignore them. This one gets my goat. Wooten’s logic is the only way to keep jobs in the US is for workers to be paid every year. If we don’t keep taking this hit, our jobs will go to Mexico. I work in a grocery store. Jim, do you really believe the peanut butter shelf is going overseas? Perhaps you should read more than one study on a topic before forming an opinion. EFCA is a small attempt to finally level the playing field at the workplace. If one truly believes in common sense, then fairness shouldn’t make one uncomfortable.

Jackie

March 12th, 2009
10:19 am

Conflation, obfuscation and outright lies are being used by the so-called conservatives in trying to make themselves relevant.

The Employee Free Choice Act is about being able to sign-up for union membership, nothing more.

JIm

March 12th, 2009
10:31 am

It’s amazing to me that Republicans accuse this legislation of having possible dire consequences for our economy. Exactly how did we get into the situation we are currently suffering? It’s not like their policies favoring total employer control have done us any good. I say move over and let labor have their turn. The scare tactics surrounding government arbitration also make me laugh. Arbitrators are not government employees. Arbitrators are skilled in the area of labor relation, are often professionally certified, are ideologically neutral, and often have years of experience in labor/employment law matters. Interest arbitration, if it went that far, would be conducted by a knowledgeable arbitrator. The goal of course, it to promote bargaining between employer and union which has been the overall goal of the NLRA. It’s good legislation introduced at a great time.

MeMe

March 12th, 2009
10:31 am

Figures that a newspaper in the “FIRE AT WILL” state would publish this.

In the words of Bernie from Home Depot:

“This is the demise of a civilization,” moaned Bernie Marcus, cofounder and former CEO of The Home Depot, during an Oct. 17 conference call about card check. “This is how a civilization disappears. I’m sitting here as an elder statesman, and I’m watching this happen, and I don’t believe it.”
Mr. Marcus sketched out the doomsday scenario for his listeners, with unions going after what he called the “low hanging fruit” and proceeding to organize workers in industry after industry. He had taken it upon himself to notify the nation’s CEOs of the danger, but they were not yet grabbing their guns. “This is as important as anything that’s ever happened to these companies. And they’re not reacting, and they’re not fighting. The old time fighters are gone.”

But in the class war, as in the real deal, there are always ways of motivating the yellow. “If a retailer has not gotten involved with this, if he has not spent money on this election, if he has not sent money to Norm Coleman and these other guys,” Mr. Marcus said, apparently referring to Republican senators facing tough re-election fights, then those retailers “should be shot; should be thrown out of their goddamn jobs.”

Reality Check

March 12th, 2009
10:33 am

As a member of management in for a National distributor, I can say without question, that management in most large companies don’t want card check to come law, because it will take away THEIR ability to coerce and intimidate workers. Management has always been able to threaten workers if there was even the hint of talk about a union. Wooton, you should stop giving the company (Republican) line and make an effort to understand the issues before you trash them. The facts tend to go a long way….

Algonquin J. Calhoun

March 12th, 2009
10:40 am

Jim hates labor unions because they have successfully afforded working people protection from being worked day and night, seven days a week and being paid minimal wages. Jim subscribes to the Wal-Mart model where workers, in China and America, work long hours, receive little pay, no benefits and are subject to the whims and vagaries of management. Jim is the local mouthpiece for the Republinazi Party and refuses to realize the sun has set on the fascist era in America. Go to your farm and express your inane philosophy to the cows Jim. Soon the air will be filled with the dissatisfied lowing of those poor, sonically abused animals!

Algonquin J. Calhoun

March 12th, 2009
10:42 am

Jim, looks like Trollop Palin is going to have to raise her illegitimate progeny alone. What are your feelings about Trollop and her two children?

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 12th, 2009
10:49 am

Labor unions serve a valuable function in our society. If you don’t believe it, just ask General Motors.

Reality Check

March 12th, 2009
10:52 am

Ragnar, Please don’t blame the problems at GM soley on the unions… Crappy managment with worse ideas are more to blame. the union have not done the company any favors, But the were absolutely essential to the growth of the middle class in this country.

Temp

March 12th, 2009
10:54 am

OK then if the interest is really fairness, let’s make card check work the other way as well. If 50% of the employees sign a card to get rid of a union, then the union no longer represents workers at that workplace.

In the interest of fairness, workers can leave a company any time they want and employers can fire workers any time they want with no requirements by either party.

In the interest of fairness, employees can strike any time they want and employers can lock out workers any time they want.

In the interest of fairness, employees and workers can negotiate any salary and benefits they want, including something below minimum wage.

After all, it’s only fair, right?

STFU

March 12th, 2009
10:56 am

I say we just keep doing things the same way they were done the last 8 years. That’s working really well. Plus we should follow all advice from the south, seeing as they get all the welfare from the federal government.

STFU

March 12th, 2009
10:57 am

Bristol Palin is a tramp, just like her momma.

Reality Check

March 12th, 2009
11:01 am

Temp @10:54 With the exception of Min wage, that is already the case. Now what???

real conservative

March 12th, 2009
11:06 am

Enter your comments here

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 12th, 2009
11:10 am

Just sign the card, Bub, and nobody gets hurt. Think of it as an “insurance” policy.

Algonquin J. Calhoun

March 12th, 2009
11:10 am

Ragweed, the workers at GM merely built the automobiles. Management drove the company into the dirt! They built ill-conceived gas hogs that were poorly designed. The workers put that crap together. They did their jobs. Management did not! Workers of the world unite!

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 12th, 2009
11:13 am

Dear Reality @ 10:52/11:52, good afternoon. I don’t think the uninspired management of GM was as relevant to its destruction as CAFE and legacy health care for unionized employees.

Even now the large vehicle lines are profitable; only those small vehicle lines maintained for the sake of fleet compliance with CAFE are unprofitable. I broadly agree that, but for the misguided act of Congress, GM would have been able to survive the union’s contribution to its problems.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 12th, 2009
11:17 am

Dear Algonquin @ 11:10, would you amend card check to also prohibit companies from paying any expenses for legacy employees? Would you amend card check to make it reciprocal, so that a company can produce signed cards to decertify a union?

Chris Broe

March 12th, 2009
11:19 am

CNN just reported that an Iraqi man was sentenced to three years in prison for throwing his shoes over Niagra Falls.

Curious Observer

March 12th, 2009
11:20 am

I’m still not getting the full picture of the mechanism for card check. Under this bill, would workers simply hand their cards to some representative, or are the workers to deposit them in some kind of locked box? If the former, I can see a basis for the argument about worker intimidation. If the latter, I don’t buy that argument at all.

In any case, the current situation is totally unfair to workers who wish to unionize, and it has been that way for many years. Not only are they subject to immediate termination if their desires are known, but also they can be forced by employers to attend anti-union meetings organized by their employers–see WalMart. The obstacles to forming a union are so severe that not many organizations will become unionized under the current system.

I would like to see what the current language of EFCA says before I comment any further. If workers are given the protection of making their wishes known secretly under EFCA, then I’m all for the bill as a way of unionizing without the hell workers must currently go through to do so. If not, I have real reservations about it.

[...] especially corporate–interests. Led by the Chamber of Commerce, opponents of EFCA have been very effective in driving the popular narrative of the Act as an anti-democratic attempt to rob workers of their [...]

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 12th, 2009
11:24 am

The biggest problem with card check is the same as with every initiative of the democrats – it raises expenses for business. Democrats imagine that businesses produce money out of air. There are only two ways for businesses to cover new higher expenses – pass those expenses along to customers, or cut other expenses.

The only significant areas of our economy not already unionized, and thus eligible for the “benefit” of card check, are the “service” sector. How much more are you willing to pay to use an ATM so banks will be able to pay for their unionized work force. Will you pay $4 for a quarterpounder? Or are those businesses going to suffer a loss of business?

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 12th, 2009
11:26 am

Dear Chris @ 11:19/12:19, if he threw his shoes over Niagra Falls, the Blue Jays need him to play right field.

Jackie

March 12th, 2009
11:32 am

Notice how those that do not support unions/laborers do not argue the harm the legislation will cause and associated costs.

They continue to use truisms and half-truths. No facts, not able to substantiate the arguments.

I hope they continue with this process as everyone is able to see the depth and breadth of their argument(s).

MIkey72

March 12th, 2009
11:40 am

“Curious Observer” raises a good question. My biggest problem with the bill (as I have read about it in the media) is the elimination of a secret-ballot vote. If the unions thought they had a legitimate argument to make for their organization, they should not fear a standard election. Intimidation works both ways. Companies have been guilty of scaring workers away from unions, and unions have tried to scare workers into joining their ranks. The government needs to step in as an honest referee to make sure a fair, secret vote should take place. Circumventing this process will harm, not help, all workers.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 12th, 2009
11:48 am

Dear jackie and all other supporters of card check, you avoid the fundamental truth at the heart of the legislation. Unions always lose secret elections. Thus you have to find a way to avoid a secret election to unionize. Do you not grasp the implications there, the “how” that accompanies the winning campaign where there is no secret election?

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 12th, 2009
11:50 am

Dear Mlkey72 @ 11:40/12:40, the proponents of the legislation will be quick to tell you that their legislation does not “abolish” the secret election, it merely adds another means of unionizing. Of course, the alternate means that permits circumvention of a secret election will become the preferred method of the unions.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 12th, 2009
11:53 am

Dear Jackie @ 11:32, you would argue that those of us who would preserve the secret election for laborers are opposed to the laborers, and those of you who would abolish – either de facto or de jure – the secret election are protecting the laborers. A curious logic, that.

Jackie

March 12th, 2009
12:16 pm

@Ragnar,

The wordsmith skills are superb.
However, a careful review of what you have said is double-speak.
A secret ballot would be best for everyone concerned. Letting the worker decide if they want to become a member of a union and have said union certified by the National Labor Review Board is in everyone’s best interest.

If the workers choose to decertify a union, so be it.

So, to give a a straight answer, I support the secret ballot and the workers desire to have that union represent them in negotiations with the employer.

Gary

March 12th, 2009
12:23 pm

I love my unions,AFT,NEA,AFL CIO.

Mac

March 12th, 2009
12:26 pm

If it weren’t for a union, Jim and his colleagues would be paid like folks at the Tifton Gazette and Cherokee Tribune – in other words, like rookie school teachers. Thank the Guild for your gold, Jim.

Mac

March 12th, 2009
12:28 pm

By the way, that’s the 20-year veterans being paid like rookie school teachers.

Leon

March 12th, 2009
12:30 pm

Rag, I don’t understand the aversion to CAFE standards. Fuel efficient cars? Sounds like a good idea to me. Perhaps you have a lot of big oil stocks in your portfolio? All the more reason for the USA to be beholden to the mideast oil tit right? Typical right wing short sighted thinking as usual.

Temp

March 12th, 2009
12:35 pm

@Reality Check: Completely untrue. There is no language in the card check bill to allow members to decertify a union through card check. That still must be done with a secret ballot.

Not only must employers pay unemployment insurance for workers, but employers with 100 or more full-time workers must give 60 days’ warning of a closing or layoff to both workers and government officials when shutting down an operation affecting 50 or more full-time workers. An employee can walk out the door at any moment with no notice and no obligation.

Several states require companies engaged in lockouts to pay either unemployment and/or benefits for locked out workers.

In each of these scenarios, companies have many obligations to the workers, but workers have none in return. Hardly strikes me as fair.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 12th, 2009
1:33 pm

Dear Jackie @ 12:18/1:16, my wordsmith skills must be better than you perceive. We are in full agreement on the need to preserve secret elections. The proposed legislation would obviate the need for a secret election.

Dear Leon @ 12:30/1:30, you ask a fair question. My aversion to CAFE arises from my aversion to anything that substitutes the economic judgment of legislators for that of those with an actual stake in the success of the economic entity. I would allow the market to determine whether production of fuel-efficient cars is wise. I know that sounds like nonsense, as small cars are inherently more economical for the owners. Small cars inherently have smaller production costs, and will cover less overhead. For high cost producers (due to their labor contracts) such as the American car makers, there is no hope of competing with foreign name plates. Thus I would allow the American car makers to make only what is profitable for them, and they would thus yield the lower-profitability markets to their competitors. Win-win.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 12th, 2009
1:37 pm

And dear Leon @ 12:30/1:30, your apology for slander is accepted. All who know me know that I own only mutual funds. I suspect the short-sighted thinker between us was the one who did not contemplate comparative production costs of the automakers.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 12th, 2009
1:39 pm

And I amend my 1:33/2:33 answer to allow for Temp’s truthful clarification, the proposed legislation does not change the requirement for a secret election to decertify. Secret elections are appropriate in that case also – secret elections, where people are required to prove eligibility to vote, keep all parties honest.

David Miller

March 12th, 2009
1:45 pm

cranky old man

March 12th, 2009
1:47 pm

Let’s assume for a moment that the right wing article of faith that says unions kill jobs is correct. What kind of jobs? Low wage jobs with no benefits or pensions. Currently, most families in this country who are “getting by” are doing so by having more than one wage-earner (or by having a wage-earner with more than one job). In the past few decades, there has been a massive increase in the number of women in the job market. Now, I’m not suggesting that they shouldn’t be there if that’s what they want. But it would be nice if one parent or the other had the OPTION of staying home because one income was enough.

The increase of women in the workforce was just the first phase in the right wing’s war against living wages. And, ironically enough, it wasn’t even something they planned, In fact, many conservatives railed against it when it first started to happen. But they were more than happy to change their tune when they realized the benefits to be had from downward pressure on wages. Next came off-shoring. And for those sectors of the job market that can’t be exported because the worker has to be physically present in the country to do the job (construction, landscaping, house painting, agriculture, hotel maids, etc.), employers have discovered the joys of illegal immigrants.

Notice how plumbers and electricians haven’t been displaced by illegal labor on a large scale? This is partly because of the specialized training required, but also due to the existence of unions and licensing requirements.

As for the off-shoring of manufacturing jobs, simply remove the incentive by adding a sufficient tariff for manufactured goods and services from countries that don’t have the same labor, safety, and environmental laws we have. The tariffs don’t need to be so high as to make it impossible for other nations to sell their goods here. Just high enough to remove the advantage of not having to buy safety and pollution control equipment and paying workers less due to the lower cost of living in other countries. Make them compete on quality and efficiency instead.

CommunistAJC

March 12th, 2009
1:57 pm

President Hussein just can not catch a break!

2 arrested in FBI raid at Obama appointee’s office

es tell WTOP.

Yusuf Acar, 40, an employee of the D.C. Office of the CTO was taken into custody by FBI agents at his home in Northwest D.C.

Sushil Bansal, President and CEO of Advanced Integrated Technologies Corporation (AITC) was also arrested, sources tell WTOP.

In 2008, Bansal’s firm received .Net Development Support and Peoplesoft Consulting Support contracts from the D.C. Office of the Chief Technology Office totaling $350,000.

http://www.wtop.com/?nid=596&sid=1622618

CommunistAJC

March 12th, 2009
1:58 pm

For anyone who ever blogs on Bookmans corner of the AJC. If you call him a hypocrite you get banned.

Chris Broe

March 12th, 2009
1:58 pm

CNN just reported that the guy who survived his swan dive over Niagra Falls has lost his speedo commercial endorsement deal for smoking pot. The olympics has also recalled and disqualified all his medals. (he got a 9.9 for his dive, btw)

Carly N

March 12th, 2009
2:18 pm

For all of you “free choice” supporters, please explain this data.

http://directorblue.blogspot.com/2009/02/studies-confirm-high-unionization.html

It shows that everywhere you have strong unions, you have higher unemployment and lower wages. And the graphs also show that when you have weak unions, you have higher employment and higher wages.

The UAW’s fine example with GM, Ford and Chrysler are a perfect example.

Big union bosses are like government: monopolies that are unaccountable.

CommunistAJC

March 12th, 2009
2:29 pm

Carly N,
these libs don’t understand that the UAW has single handedly killed the American auto industry. Sam Walton was smart when he said that unions would kill Wal Mart. He’s laughing from his grave.

Jackie

March 12th, 2009
2:32 pm

@Carly N

What union has design control any product?
It appears to me, the union members can only fabricate the product as designed and marketed by those in management.

Secondly, those areas that have low wages and are not unionized, such as Alabama, have those wages subsidized by the taxpayers. If you recall, the state gave the manufactures incentives to move to the state and provide approximately 2,000 jobs.

You indicate you have weak unions and strong wages. I would submit your numbers are wrong when it relates to wages. My research indicates the average for those weak union workers is roughly $15.00 per hour without extensive benefits.

Who was the winner here?

Leon

March 12th, 2009
2:50 pm

Rag neither apology required, nor slander inferred. Not familiar with your investment strategy. Alas it was the automakers shortsightedness that led them to believe that $1.00 per gallon gas would last ad infinitum. Why else would they lobby so ferociously against CAFE? Tsk Tsk

Fred

March 12th, 2009
2:58 pm

Unions: the only way a high school dropout can earn $60k/year for screwing in light bulbs. Life is so unfair that way.

Chaz

March 12th, 2009
3:09 pm

If a unionized workforce and near-complete control of government by Democrats leads to happiness and prosperity, please explain the state of Michigan to me.

I’ll take my Red State independence, thank you.