Business as usual may soon become anything but, as a new piece of legislation is circulating in Washington that could dramatically alter the process for forming employee unions.
The Employee Free Choice Act makes three key changes in the law that has Congressman Buck McKeon and our local Chamber of Commerce on the offensive.
- It allows for employees to unionize if more than 50% of them publicly sign a card in favor of doing so. Current law forces a private election within 39 days if 1/3 of the total employees express interest. Then, within that time frame both companies and union representatives get to plead their case to the employees.
- If the union and company cannot agree on a contract, it forces a federal arbitrator to come in and set a two-year agreement, without any appeals.
- It sets penalties for companies if they are unfair during the union organizing process; however it sets no such penalties on unions.
Proponents of the bill say that it provides more options for employees who are interested in forming a union. On May 7th, at a rally with over 1,000 scholars pledging their support for the legislation, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney underscored the union’s motivation to get the bill passed.
“Our nation’s scholars fully understand the implications for our democracy and our economy when corporate power brokers can deprive working people of the right to freely organize a union,” says AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. “America’s workers welcome their support for this crucial legislation which stands to help turn the tide for our nation’s future.”
Congressman Buck McKeon calls the bill a “job killer” and has vowed to battle against it.
“The American economy is in real trouble. Americans are losing their jobs and their homes. The notion that Congress would take up an anti-worker, special interest payback like this one – particularly at a time like this, with the economic challenges we face – is unconscionable,” said McKeon. “The Employee Free Choice Act is an affront to basic democratic rights and it must be defeated.”
The U.S. Chamber of commerce is going to battle too, calling upon each local business organization to send five members to Washington D.C. to represent their businesses’ thoughts on the matter.
The Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce is making that trip. Led by Chamber CEO Larry Mankin, the delegation will meet with a host of federal policy makers June 2-3, including Congressman McKeon and potentially Senator Diane Feinstein.
John Shaffery, a local lawyer with Poole and Shaffery, LLP and Vice Chair of the Chamber Board of Directors says that they have a defined mission in D.C.
“We’re heading up to Washington D.C. expressing not only our individual concerns, but the concerns of the community, and asking them to oppose this legislation,” Shaffery said.
Before the trip, the Chamber wants local businesses to chime in so they can take the local message along.
A reception is being held Thursday, May 28th at Poole and Shaffery LLP, and it is open to representatives of local businesses. The Chamber of Commerce will make a presentation on the Employee Free Choice Act, and attendees will be encouraged to share their thoughts. If you would like to attend, call Poole and Shaffery LLP to make a reservation, at (661) 290-2991.