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Latest News - October 2010

October 26, 2010
Bennet Opposed to Proposed Union Bill
Source: The Denver Daily News
By: Peter Marcus

After months of uncertainty, a group of Colorado business leaders is confident that U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, would oppose a federal proposal that would make it easier for employees to unionize through a so-called card check system.

The Coalition for Colorado Jobs, a campaign launched to oppose the Employee Free Choice Act, points to a U.S. Senate debate between Bennet and Republican challenger Ken Buck on Saturday during which Bennet expressed his disapproval with the current language of the EFCA proposal. 

Buck had already expressed his disapproval with the legislation, but Bennet’s opinion was less clear until Saturday, say critics of the proposal.

Bennet said during the KCNC-TV debate that he believes in the current secret ballot system used for a shop to unionize, and is also “skeptical” of the arbitration provisions of the federal proposal.

The Employee Free Choice Act would allow workers to form a union by getting a majority of workers to sign cards instead of holding a secret ballot election. Currently, employers are allowed to make that decision.  The legislation would also require binding arbitration with federal arbitrators when collective bargaining agreements can’t be reached.

The Democratic-controlled House backed the legislation in 2009.  But as a spokesman for the Bennet campaign points out, the proposal has stalled in the Senate, which is why Bennet’s campaign does not understand why opponents continue to focus on EFCA. 

Michael Amodeo, a spokesman for the Bennet campaign, said there are far more pressing issues to focus on.

“With all these issues facing our economy right now, particularly as it relates to small business, is the Employee Free Choice Act your No. 1 priority considering that it’s something that is not entirely on the table right now, or are you looking to deal with issues that are more pressing and more immediate for the Colorado small business community?” Amodeo said he would ask the Coalition for Colorado Jobs.

The group of business leaders has maintained that EFCA is as important of an issue as it gets because the legislation could negatively impact small business owners, which they say is the engine of the nation’s economy, and therefore could result in more widespread job loss.

Opponents of the legislation say the proposal is not dead, and that compromises are being negotiated to push the legislation through Congress. 

Critics argue that if federal lawmakers take the unionization decision away from employers, workers would be subjected to “intimidation by union bosses” by taking away the element of ballot secrecy. They also argue that the cost of doing business would go up for employers, which would mean having to make cuts by laying off employees, or even closing shop.

Sandra Hagen Solin, state director of the Coalition for Colorado Jobs, said she is confident that Bennet will vote against the federal proposal in its current form if it makes its way to the full Senate for a vote.  Critics of the proposal had been asking Bennet for months to give them an answer on whether he supported the legislation, a proposal that has the backing of many Democrats.

Bennet had expressed his uncertainty with the legislation at a U.S. Senate debate earlier this month, but critics of the legislation said they were still not convinced until the debate on Saturday. 

Bennet said during the debate on Saturday that he does not support the current language of the legislation.  His campaign confirmed yesterday that the senator would not support the legislation in its current form.

“I think the secret ballot rule shouldn’t change,” Bennet responded to Buck when Buck asked Bennet on Saturday where he stood on EFCA during a portion of the debate in which the candidates themselves were allowed to ask questions of each other. 

Bennet, however, said there should be less focus on EFCA and more focus on job creation.

“What I really would like to see is labor and management working together to make sure that we can solve the economic issues that we face,” said Bennet.  “I believe that it’s a very divisive issue that’s not going to come for a vote, and I think our time ought to be spent figuring out how we’re going to create jobs in this country and stop exporting them overseas.”



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