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Card check is worth fighting forexcept for the "card check" part.

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:26 PM
Original message


By T. A. Frank

As Barack Obama prepares to get a stimulus plan launched this winter, carefully planting seeds of cross-party warmth and nurturing each rare shoot, he may wish to avoid unrelated matters that cause bitter partisan showdowns and lay waste to the whole damn thing. At least, that seems wisest when youre asking for a trillion or so in new spending. So people understood why Rahm Emanuel, during a meeting with the Wall Street Journals CEO Council last November, dodged an inquiry about a contentious piece of legislation called the Employee Free Choice Act. "Let me take your question and go somewhere else," he said to laughter.

EFCA carries no visible price tag. Its simply a revision of existing labor laws that makes forming a union easier for employees. But if anything is likely to unite a dispirited Republican minority, EFCA is it. (Recall that United Auto Workers wage scales were what rallied Republican senators to defeat the auto industry bailout bill in December. A leaked Republican National Committee memo described that vote as a "first shot against organized labor.") For big businessand the GOPthe threat of a revived labor movement elicits far more terror than health care reform or stimulus packages. After all, health care and federal spending can be good for the bottom line; unions, not so much.

Contentious as it may be, though, EFCA is also one of the first pieces of legislation that congressional Democrats, or at least those closest to organized labor, want to see passed. The bill would strengthen a variety of laws and procedures that govern how employees choose whether or not to join a union. These are technical issuesones that most voters, especially affluent ones, never think about. But theyre huge for millions of low-wage workers and the companies that employ them.

In Washington, the rhetoric over EFCA has centered on one specific element of the legislation called "card check." Under the proposed new law, if a majority of employees fill out cards authorizing a union to represent them, the union is automatically certified. Currently, employers can demand a secret-ballot election among employees to reaffirm the results. EFCA would eliminate this option. Republicans have called this a threat to liberty and democratic values. Democrats counter that its essential to protecting workers against employer coercion. But this squabble is a distraction. In reality, card check is the least important part of a very important bill. The following story should help explain why.

The setting is Lancaster, California, a city in the Antelope Valley, about seventy miles north of Los Angeles. If theres anything charming there, I imagine the mayor would like to know about it. The landscape is one of long avenues with warehouses, malls, fast-food outlets, and ubiquitous young colonies of brown-stucco villas born at the height of a destructive housing mania. (And why such a dismal shade of brown? And how many thousands were built?) Its in cities like this that specialists apply green spray paint to the dead lawns of foreclosed homes in order to keep up neighborhood appearances, such as they are. The area enjoyed a boom after California made it a special enterprise zone in 1997, but that ended when the real estate bubble did. Jobs here have long been scarce.

In 1998, the drugstore chain Rite Aid Corporation broke ground on a million-square-foot distribution center, constructed on eighty-eight acres of land purchased from the city of Lancaster for $1. The following year, the distribution center began to hire. "It was very exciting," recalls Angel Warner, who landed a job in production before switching to inventory control. "For a long time, this area had been depressed." The number of employees grew from several hundred to over a thousand.

FULL story at link.

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midnight Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:38 PM
Response to Original message
1. So if the republicans can pass EFCA without the card that would
be alright with them then, and EFCA would pass then?
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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:46 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. That was my take on it

It is a gamble. Do we take what we can get and hope for 60 in the Senate after the mid term elections?

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Juche Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-23-09 06:42 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. Do both
Edited on Fri Jan-23-09 06:45 PM by Juche
I don't see why the dems couldn't pass EFCA now w/o card check then add in card check later.

Fundamentally though, I don't see why they should. Unions put $450,000,000 into this election cycle, and they put millions of hours of volunteer work into it. To just be blown off after all that work is very unfair.

The reason the GOP fears cardcheck is because with a stronger union movement there will be more money to support progressive candidates and unions tend to increase voter turnout among the working poor and shift political alliances among people who would otherwise vote GOP (white people, gun owners and religious evangelicals, while all GOP voters become democratic if they join a union). The concept of unionization going from 12% to 20% means billions in added democratic fundraising and a higher voter turnout against the GOP. The GOP is going to fight any efforts to improve union rates, card check is just the most convenient right now. I seriously doubt they'd passively let the dems pass anything they think will increase union levels.

A strong union movement is not only the ethical thing to do, but necessary to ensure democratic and progressive majorities so that the GOP cannot take power again and nullify our accomplishments. EFCA is integral to rebuilding the middle class and maintaining progressive majorities in politics.

Union members are more likely to vote, more likely to vote for Democrats, and more likely to volunteer for campaigns than people with similar demographic and job characteristics who are not unionized. In the November 2004 presidential election, union members represented 12 percent of all workers but union households represented 24 percent of all voters. Despite John Kerrys tepid campaign and upper-crust demeanor, union members gave him 61 percent of their votes over George W. Bush. In the battleground states, where unions focused their turnout efforts, they did even better. In Ohio, for example, union members favored Kerry by a 67 to 31 percent margin.

When voters' loyalties were divided between their economic interests and other concerns, however, union membership was a crucial determinant of their votes. For example, gun owners favored Bush by a 63 to 36 percent margin, but union members who own guns supported Kerry 55 percent to 43 percent, according to an AFL-CIO survey. Bush carried all weekly church-goers by a 61 to 39 percent margin, but Kerry won among union members who attend church weekly by a 55 to 43 percent split.

Among white males, a group that Democrats have had difficulty attracting in recent Presidential elections, Bush won by a 62 to 37 percent margin. But again, Kerry carried white males who were union members by a 59 to 38 percent difference. Bush won among white women by 55 to 44 percent but Kerry won white women union members by 67 percent to 32 percent.

Had union membership reached even 15 percent of the workforce, Kerry would have won by a significant margin.

If the dems can't get this with 59 senators then we are screwed. ALl they need is 1 GOP senator (specter) to turn. Even if unions have to offer that GOP senator millions of dollars and manhours to help him/her get reelected in 2010, it'll be worth it. Perhaps they can cut that deal with Specter. Help get EFCA passed and the unions will put millions into fighting for you in the primaries and general election of 2010. Or find some GOP senator with a pet project and offer dem help in getting it passed. Or tack EFCA onto a budget bill so it can't be filibustered.

Getting meaningful labor reform will help keep the GOP in the minority, which will make it easier to further every other progressive agenda under the sun (alt. energy, environmentalism, GLBT rights, labor rights, reproductive rights, science R&D, global humanitarian aid, etc).

Labor law reform is the backbone of rebuilding the middle class and ensuring progressive political majorities for a generation or more. It needs to be done by any means necessary.
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LiberalFighter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-23-09 11:13 PM
Response to Reply #2
8. I would say no. We need to get everything we can get this year.
Edited on Fri Jan-23-09 11:16 PM by LiberalFighter
We don't know what will happen in 2010 elections. And can't take the risk of waiting til then.

We need to explain to the public that the current system does not provide fair and democratic elections. It should be about the right for workers to establish their own representation without coercion on the part of the company. The company can't belong to the union. The company can't have anyone from management elected as union officers. The company can't decide the union by-laws, dues, and involvement in community activities. The company can't decide how the union members will spend their funds.

I would say that rather than a 50% automatic it be 60% or even 2/3. I know from experience that we would only file when we had 60% of the eligible employees signed up.
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Libertyfirst Donating Member (583 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 09:33 PM
Response to Original message
3. Settle, Hell No! Lets go for it all. We need organized labor now
Edited on Wed Jan-21-09 09:34 PM by Libertyfirst
more than ever. The tough times will give us the opportunity to make the argument for the entire package and I doubt the country will ever be more willing to listen than this year. No Compromise.
If we can't draw the line in the sand for the working people of this country then we aren't the people who promised change. Let's fight for this in the media, on line, in the halls of congress, in demonstrations, picket lines --and as Churchill said, "with beer bottles if that's all we've got." (or something like that)

We basically owe what used to be called the American standard of living to Unions which won decent wages, health care, safety regulations, etc. And union members and their families died and others went to prison in the process. We don't face armed goon squads, all we face are republicans and DINOs. If we run away from this fight our children and their children will suffer the pain and call us gutless. And they will be correct. We are talking about food on the table and coats on kids.

I am 75 years old, on oxygen, and not a rich man, but I promise to be at the first demonstration on behalf of this legislation wherever it is held in the United States.

We cannot compromise on economic justice again. We have done so too long.
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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 09:36 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Thank you

You make my time on the DU worth it.


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Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 09:43 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. Kick for your post.
Thank you, Libertyfirst. :toast:

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dcsmart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 11:08 AM
Response to Original message
6. K & R

this is a great article. it makes clear what the EFCA is about. every time i read about how employers treat employees when there is talk of a union, the opening lines of the IWW preamble comes to mind

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.


the working class struggle is the history of human beings. This legislation will be pivotal. i think the new administration should wait for now, start with what he can get passed and move on to the tougher stuff. in the end, i would rather have the EFCA intact and strong, instead of comprised and weak.

i have more to say....but i can't right now....
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