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Latest News - July 2010

July 06, 2010
Supply Chain News: Card Check Unionization Bill May Quickly Reappear, as US Labor Gets Active
Sen. Harkin says Bill Likely to be Re-Introduced in Senate in 2010, as New UAW Chief Vows to "Pound" Toyota
Source: Supply Chain Digest

US Labor Leaders, unhappy with what most view as slow progress in their agenda with a Democratic Congress and Executive branch, are ramping up efforts and likely heartened to hear a leading Senate Democrat say the controversial "card check" bill could see action in the Senate yet this year.

The Employee Free Choice Act, known as the card check legislation, would give a number of important rights to workers long sought by unions, including the ability to form a union by simply signing a card rather than secret ballot. Most business interests are concerned that would lead to worker intimidation, as workers refusing to sign the card would be quickly targeted by union activists.

The bill, which passed the House in 2007, also required arbitration and a forced contract if the two sides were unable to reach an agreement within 90 days of a new union being formed. For the first time, it would also mandate that companies let union officials into company presentations to workers during the unionization effort.

A variety of business organizations have been actively fighting passage of the bill in the Senate, and individual companies have been hiring consultants to help them prepare for the potential passage of the bill and how to best inoculate themselves from union risk. Distribution centers and retail store chains have been particularly active in such efforts.

Bill's Announced Death in Senate May have been Premature

With even some Democrats in the Senate opposed to the bill, and a variety of other contentious legislation such as the health care bill soaking up much of the Democrats energy and political capital earlier this year, most political pundits saw little chance for action in the Senate in 2010, even though the Obama administration has been solidly behind The Free Choice Act from the start.

Now, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, always a strong supporter of the labor movement, has said announcement of the bill's death may have been very premature.

"To those who think it's dead, I say think again," Harkin said recently on the Bill Press radio show.

"We're still trying to maneuver," Harkin added, explaining that if Democrats can't move the bill in its entirety, they might try to pass key parts of the union-organizing legislation individually.

With many viewing that the Fall elections will add more Republicans to the Senate, making passage in that chamber even more difficult, Harkin said action could come in the so-called "lame duck" sessions between the November vote and when the elected Senators take office.

"A lot of things can happen in a lame-duck session, too," Harkin said in a recent speech to the United Auto Workers union.



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