Plan C: Time to Make Labor Play Defense?

Plan C: Time to Make Labor Play Defense?

Plan C: Time to Make Labor Play Defense?

A mostly political weblog.
April 6 2009 2:00 AM

Plan C: Time to Make Labor Play Defense?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Selena Zito argues "[c]ard-check is dead"-- at least for now--but points to the much-discussed "Plan B" compromise that would drop the two most significant parts of the "card check" bill (circumventing secret ballots, mandatory arbitration) and focus on


tougher penalties on businesses for unfair or punitive labor practices, a quicker way to enforce those, and equal access to all employees during non-working hours for campaigning purposes.

OK. But what's in it for the GOP and business?  Well, if the Democrats get more Senate seats in 2010 they might be able to pass the undiluted, original "card check" law. Zito says the anti-card check forces

may - and this is a big "may" - want to try to secure some reasonable compromise while they still have some leverage.

Jennifer Rubin notes the conspicuous fatal flaw in this line of analysis--as if labor is going to pass up the chance to enact full-strength card check in 2011 if they have the votes. There's nothing in a "Plan B" compromise for business. The problem is that there might be something in it for a couple of Republican Senators . Politicians don't like to leave any big interest group such as labor completely emptyhanded (and therefore angry). If 60 senators go for Plan B, it's on, whether business likes it or not.

What anti-card check lobby (including but not limited to business) badly needs now, you'd think, is an offensive weapon or two . What reforms might they want? Tougher investigtations of union corruption? Or a "level playing field" that would allow employers to contact workers outside of work (if unions are to get 'equal access"  at work)? Or an "free employer speech" clause that would let managment frankly warn that if a given plant is unionized it might be shut down--as long as the warning is truthful? Or a provision that allows management to give raises--rebuild the middle class!--in the runup to a unionization vote? Business could present these changes--Plan C--in a calm, even-handed manner--e.g., "If there are bad actors that fire union organizers and stall elections, we're willing to increase penalties. At the same time, let's give employers the same rights as union organizers when it comes to making their case. And let's let workers extract higher wages without the bureaucracy and inflexible legalism of Detroit-style union rules--that's the best of both worlds. As for corrupt labor officials ..." The idea would be to avoid coming across as anti-union, while at the same time threatening to rob labor of all the net advantages a "Plan B" compromise might bring. That's  leverage. .. 12:07 A.M.