WASHINGTON — Several Democratic senators have decided to drop a central provision of the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800, S. 1041) — the so-called “card-check” provision — to help secure a filibuster-proof 60 votes.
The provision would have required employers to recognize a union as soon as a majority of workers signed cards in support of it. Currently, employers can demand a secret-ballot election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Although Democrats have a 60-40 vote advantage in the Senate and President Barack Obama supports the measure, several moderate Democrats opposed the card-check provision. In its place, the revised bill requires shorter unionization campaigns and faster elections, according to several Senate and labor officials.
“This is a very emotional issue,” Senator Arlen Specter (D.-Pa.) told the New York Times. “I cannot remember an issue this emotional in all my years in the Senate.”
Moderate Democrats have voiced opposition to the card-check provision, saying that elections are a fairer way for workers to unionize because card check would remove confidentiality from unionization drives and allow union organizers to bully workers into signing union cards.
Under the expected revisions, union elections would have to be held within five to 10 days after 30% of workers sign cards favoring having a union.
The Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA) and Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI) have come out against the Employee Free Choice Act in its original version.
The measure was defeated in the 2007 Congress but is a top legislative priority for 2009, according to the United States Chamber of Commerce.