Magazine article Workforce Management

Key Firms Mum on Union Bill

Magazine article Workforce Management

Key Firms Mum on Union Bill

Article excerpt

OutFront

Employers that have used card check stay out of the debate over the Employee Free Choice Act.

In the cacophony of the debate on the Employee Free Choice Act, one particular voice that might quell fears about card-check elections replacing secretballot votes has been silent.

None of the major companies that have used card check has stepped up to support the bill, which would allow a union to form when a majority of employees sign authorization cards.

With the total number of Democratic senators increasing to 60 after the recent swearing-in of Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, the party now has enough votes to stop Republican filibusters like the one that killed the union bill in 2007.

But opposition - from Republicans and moderate Democrats - has stalled the measure. Negotiations over a compromise could continue until late July or September.

The business lobby has mounted a fierce campaign against the bill, saying that it would undermine workplace democracy and raise labor costs at the worst time - during a recession.

That argument might have been effectively countered if such companies as AT&T, Verizon, Kaiser Permanente and Harley- Davidson had offered examples of how the card-check process worked for them. But they have stayed out of the EFCA fray.

American Rights at Work, an EFCA advocacy group, asserts that more than 500,000 workers have joined unions through majority sign-up - or card check - since 2003. On its Web site, www.americanrightsatwork.org, the organization praises companies that use the process for listening to their workers and treating them with respect.

But several large firms that the group extols refuse to comment on EFCA and their labor relations.

Even former executives are reticent. Laurence "Lon" O'Neil, who served as senior vice president of HR for Kaiser, is now president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management. …

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