Reid: Card Check by Summer?

A mostly political weblog.
Jan. 26 2009 8:23 PM

Reid: Card Check by Summer?

Monday, January 26, 2009

1) This smells too bad to be true--as if it were a hoax designed to drive me mad. But I got an email pointing to a Rhode Island blogger (Pat Crowley) who says that last week Harry Reid promised to pass both of kf 's must-stop bills :

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I just left an amazing meeting with a number of members of the US Senate including Sherrod Brown, Debbie Stabenow, Bernie Sanders, Ron Wyden, Carl Levin and Majority Leader Harry Reid, ... Senator Reid promised to pass EFCA by the Summer, give Carl Levin more money for investigations of the Bush administration, and pass comprehensive immigration reform. 

All he left out was confirming Chris Bangle as Minister of Culture. ... P.S.:  Crowley has Reid on video proclaiming card check "fair" and dismissing worries about preserving the secret ballot as a "bunch of garbage." The audio is indistinct--maybe you'll be able to discern what, exactly, Reid promises to do by the summer. ... P.P.S.: And here you can figure out what exactly, he promises to do on this year on immigration. ...

Meanwhile ....

2) Marc Ambinder continues to falll under the spell of a labor source who has him repeating bogus spin about the EFCA (the "card check" bill):

In effect, EFCA switches the choice to the workers; they can choose whether to hold a card check election or whether they want a regular secret ballot election.

As Jennifer Rubin notes , the EFCA doesn't provide for a worker "choice" of a secret ballot election. If the union gets 50% of its cards signed, the secret ballot election is eliminated . How does this let the workers choose to have a secret ballot? (The "cards" in question don't address the election issue at all--see sample here. )   Put it another way:  The whole question is how we can determine what "the workers'" legitimate choice is--by a show of signed cards ("card check") or by secret ballot. It's circular for Ambinder to say, in effect, that it's OK to let 50% of the cards determine whether there's a union because, hey, 50% of the workers have signed cards and "chosen" that way to form a union!  That only makes sense if you assume the "card check" process is fair and free of intimidation, which is the whole question at issue. If you think secret ballots are the more accurate way of determining individual "choice," for all the traditional reasons we have secret ballots, then there's not much of an argument for letting a non-secret ballot process "choose" to cancel having the secret-ballot process. ...  

Finally

3) T.A. Frank's  Washington Monthly account of the organizing drive at a Rite-Aid warehouse is being taken by many of my colleagues as explaining why "card check" is necessary. It's a good piece, but a) it doesn't argue for passing "card check." It argues for abandoning the "card check" and passing the rest of the EFCA, especially provisions to increase punishments when employers "undermin[e] the secret ballot process" by doing things like firing union sympathizers; b) Frank's discussion of the other big proposal in the EFCA--imposing a mandatory, arbitrated first contract settlement on employers--is cursory-to-nonexistent. What will it mean to the economy if wages and other contract terms stop being set by the push and pull of negotiation and come to be set instead by arbitrators operating in accordance with some sort of de facto non-market custom? c) Frank suggests fiddling with the election process in ways that would help unions: speeding up the votes, for example, or granting "union members equal access to the workplace during a campaign." But he doesn't acknowledge the ways in which the current Wagner Act unionization process--even the secret ballot process--already departs from common-sense democratic principles in ways that tilt the scale in unions' favor . (For example, an employer "cannot threaten to move or shut down if workers vote for the union . Nor can he promise higher wages" if the union is rejected. Why not? Why not let the workers decide, in each case, whether the employer is bluffing? Employers also aren't allowed to actually give raises in order to win worker support, or to find out what's bothering workers, lest that be interpreted as a promise to fix the problems). ...  6:07 P.M.

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