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Zombie Donkey or Where are all the Democrats?

Where are all the Democrats?
I know it is a pony, do you have any idea how hard it is to find a picture of a Zombie Donkey?

Card Check

Penalties for labor law violations

Mandatory Arbitration

When card check seems to be the very basis for America and lets the majority rule, why the ugly push back from the right?

Card check makes a juicy target.

By portraying the card check provision of the EFCA as un-American the anti EFCA forces can pretend to be the underdog, defending the common man. The “defense” of the secret ballot lets Blue dog Democrats and some moderate Dem senators avoid a vote and justify their opposition.

The labor movement knows they can not simply depend on the support of the Congress they elected. We need to pull away the political cover so they will be forced to vote in the open.

Out of the gate, business seized a lead by portraying card check as Anti-American. Labor needs to push back against this, both with logic and with emotion.

Arguing against the “taking away the secret ballot” argument sets up a is not”, “is so” argument that wins for business because most people stop listening to a long and involved debate.

We can’t just yell “we are Americans too!” it isn’t a good sound bite and it has no emotional punch.There has to be a message that everyone supports, Unions and non-unionized. It would be great if it could be done in a 30 second spot, and I think it can be done.

Employers break the law, there is intimidation by employers. There are illegal firings and people’s lives are ruined, but how do you get that into 30 seconds?

We can get enough clips from You Tube alone that show unpopular people speaking against the EFCA. Picture Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, and millionaires on screen with their estimated worth under each while they talk spout venom.

“They have it all, why don’t they want anyone else to have any?”

Support America Support the Employee Free Choice Act.”


The strongest arguments on the side of labor are the tens of thousand of cases of illegal intimidation by employers, the firings, the threats to workers and communities.

Anti-EFCA groups try to bypass any discussion of labor intimidation and pretend ongoing and blatant employer intimidation is not happening or only happens in an insignificant number of cases. (NLRB) Charges filed 47 violations by unions vs. 27,000 plus violations by Business.

Union Busters claim that they know there are abuses by employers, but that if labor had the EFCA, then they might do the same. The argument boils down to “we want to be the only people to be able to abuse the law”, yet they have no interest in making those violations costly to business.

The strength of the EFCA is that if any one piece is passed without being crippled it will start to balance the scales of justice. Penalties alone would make the process of Union Busting far more dangerous to employers to go into without the intention of staying legal.

An additional note on penalties.

The main problem with the penalties as they stand is that they are not adjusted to inflation or the size of the work force. Violations should not remain just a cost of doing business. I would drop the fixed amount fines and put in a relative one based on payroll.

Fines could start at 20% of the total payroll per year and increase on repeated violations. This would be the same threat level to a million dollar company as it would be to a billion dollar company. I would also factor in the cost of payroll for any outsourced labor, just to keep companies from dumping employees to minimize a fine. Repeated violations would increase the level of the penalty up to 100% of payroll. This would result in employers becoming far more conscious of the law.

Mandatory Arbitration

Mandatory Arbitration will be Custer’s last stand for Union Busters. They know that even if they are must recognize a Union they can spend years refusing to negotiate while attempting to continue their former tactics and break the new Union.

They want to stop the whole bill but in the end, it is the mandatory arbitration clause of the EFCA that is both the real target of the Union Busters and the most important goal to achieve with passage of the EFCA.

Are Compromises Possible?

Labor knows compromises are possible; any successful contract is all about compromises.

The first so called compromises from the right were all about retaining the long, long, wait until any election is held.

Any argument based on increasing the wait for an election is not a compromise, it is a vote against the EFCA. The Union Busters best weapon has always been a long wait before balloting, allowing for intimidation and pressure tactics by employers and in rare cases, by labor organizers.

The Anti Labor groups says that labor is not interested in any fair solution. How woud they know? The idea of negotiations is what they are fighting against, how could they even imagine participating in a fair discussion?

The compromises offered so far go nowhere far enough to prevent future firings and intimidation of pro-union workers. The second goal of any compromise offered by business at this time has been to keep the lack of significant sanctions for labor law violators. The third goal is to avoid any mandatory arbitration.

Unlike business, Unions have experience at negotions. If there is to be any compromise, We must I both strengthen the enforcement concepts of EFCA, retain mandatory arbitration, and even expand the punishment for violations, both for employers and for labor.

To labor the EFCA has become a highly emotional bill and they are understandably reluctant to talk compromise. Since the Taft Hartley bill in the 1940’s the labor friendly laws passed after the depression have been eroded and weakened by repeated give aways to business interests.

Labor believes strongly that even if the card check proposal part of the bill were erased, some blue dog Democrats and some Republicans with heavy Union membership at home would still try to vote the compromise down because both the Democrats and the Republicans would have be less able to hide their attempts to pay back their corporate supporters.

I believe that many of the fence-sitting Democrats are actually against the EFCA because they are owned by business, but are still afraid of the voters after November 2008. Any compromise that retained any form of secret ballot would take away the cover and expose those who want to vote for business against their constituents.

The instant Union recognition provision of the EFCA where the Union is immediately recognized, gets push back

The right was fast and smart (did Hell just freeze over?). By seizing the secret ballot argument they can make it their own.

Provide card check that triggers a secret election in one day. Keep the secret election but take away the weapon of time from the employer. They need time to scare employees.

Retaining some form of Secret ballot will defuse much of the arguments against the EFCA.

Employers claim they need time not for intimidation and coercion but because they were surprised by the Union’s organizing success and want to put across their views and concerns to employees before a Union becomes permanent.

The “we need time” whine is specious. An employer has a chance to speak to employees every day. They have a chance to raise wages and/or benefits or to let the employees know why they can not. When a Union has a successful organizing drive it is a proof of failure of the business to stay in touch with their work force.

The deck remains massively stacked against Union efforts. Captive audience meetings, firings of pro-union workers, and meaningless sanctions against employers that violate the law has resulted in the need for a law to rebalance the scales.

Employers are not interested in compromise, they have control, why should they bend?

Labor has to win this one. Democrats hid from Dick Cheney, controversy, and daylight, during the last two years of the bush reign, they are no longer the undead, they won, where are they now?

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June 11th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | EFCA, EFCA compromise, Employee Free Choice Act, Labor Movement, Law, SEIU, Secret ballot, Trade union, United States, Work, card check | no comments

EFCA on the move again.

Arlen Specter may be the key to passing the EFCA in the same way he was an intestinal blockage the last time it came across his desk as a Republican.

Arlen Specter, the freshman Democrat has realized he can’t get elected unless the nearly 1,000,000 Union workers in his state see him supporting the EFCA.

Specter is working with Diane Feinstein to create a compromise bill that will still get him elected. Pennsylvania’s Unions have the votes and the will to make or break Arlen Specter and both he and the Democrats know it.

He can’t win the next Pennsylvania Democratic primary without Union votes, and the message has been clear “vote for the EFCA or lose your seat”.

Some “moderate” Democrats like Tom Harkin know they won’t be able to claim they don’t have the votes to pass the EFCA. They can’t hide behind the Republicans any longer. Tom Harkin has been leading an effort to write a compromise so the party’s voters, (including the unions) don’t think they were lied to. No EFCA and they will stay home when Specter and other Democrats need their help in 2010 elections.

The Feinstein compromise replaces the original card-check provision, which allows workers give signed cards to a Union organizer and arranges for them to be counted by the NLRB thus providing the majority sign up and providing the secret election at the same time. This would still prevent companies from terrorizing workers for months or even years to prevent unionization.
As I understand it employees would be given the cards and they would be mailed to the NLRB, the same as absentee ballots are used in regular elections. The individual could take it home and mail it in,” Feinstein said. The same EFCA rules would apply
If a majority of all employees mailed ballot to the National Labor Relations Board, and voted YES for the Union, the NLRB would recognize the union.
Tom Harkin in CYA mode says, the Feinstein idea will protect the secret ballot, so votes can be cast in private, which kills the complaints about no secret ballot. At least it would kill the complaints if the GOPasaurs were sane.

The GOPasaur, artwork by the DailyKos, irrelevancy courtesy of the Republican party.

The right has always hated the arbitration clause while Unions see some forced answer necessary to prevent companies refusing to ever reach a contract.

Long time labor advocate, Democrat Arlen Specter supports “last best offer” arbitration. Last best offer arbitration forces both sides to negotiate and if no agreement can be reached a (usually) three person panel is put in place consisting of one labor representative, one from management and one neutral party chosen with mutual agreement. The panel has the right to mandate a contract based on the good of the company and the good of the employees. Neither Unions or Management like the idea of giving up any say but Unions feel this may be needed to reach a first contract.

The AFL-CIO has said it is ready to listen to that proposal. Unions have fought for the pure EFCA bill and will be understandably disappointed but they have a long history of negotiations unlike Wal-Mart and know that you never get it all. If these changes mean getting something passed that has not been gutted Unions will probably get behind the compromise.

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May 10th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Arlen Specter, EFCA, EFCA compromise, MSEA-SEIU, card check | no comments