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Senators Working on Amendments to Labor Legislation

July 20, 2009

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From Capitol Hill come hints of a possible compromise on labor legislation.


A news report, confirmed in part by a spokesman at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that a group of senators are working on amendments to the Employee Free Choice Act, including dropping the "card check" provision that employers strongly oppose.

According to the New York Times July 17, a half-dozen senators led by Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, are considering amendments that would, among other things, preserve the secret ballot by which employees decide whether or not they will unionize.

Under the original proposal, the secret ballot would in effect be replaced by card check, which would give a union the authority to represent workers if a majority sign a card saying they support the union.

No amendments have been introduced so details cannot be confirmed, but according to Glenn Spencer, executive director of the Workforce Freedom Initiative of the U.S. Chamber, the senators are considering requiring an expedited election following an expression of interest in unionization.

Spencer also said there has been discussion of having a government arbitrator intervene if a company and a union cannot agree on a contract within 120 days. Also under discussion: requiring employers to give union organizers access to company property.

It is hard to say when amendments might actually surface, or when the Senate might take up work on its version of EFCA. The legislation remains a priority for labor but Congress is fully occupied with other matters including, most prominently, health care reform.

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