California Labor and Employment Defense Blog

Card Check is Officially Dead, But Has Been Replaced By Bill For Faster Union Elections

As recently as February, President Obama was telling union supporters in emphatic terms that "we will pass the Employee Free Choice Act [a/k/a "card check"]."  According to the New York Times, however, the Democratic majority in the Senate has finally abandoned any attempt to replace secret ballots in union elections with a non-secret "card check" procedure.  Instead, they will supposedly push for speedier elections.

The abandonment of card check was another example of the power of moderate Democrats to constrain their party’s more liberal legislative efforts. Though the Democrats have a 60-40 vote advantage in the Senate, and President Obama supports the measure, several moderate Democrats opposed the card-check provision as undemocratic.

In its place, several Senate and labor officials said, the revised bill would require shorter unionization campaigns and faster elections.

While disappointed with the failure of card check, union leaders argued this would still be an important victory because it would give companies less time to press workers to vote against unionizing.

Having an election on just five or ten days notice will undoubtedly strain the resources of the NLRB -- which must administer and oversee the elections.  And, in any event, the real delays come from post election legal challenges filed by both sides to the campaigning and balloting. 

"Speeding up" elections as consolation for the loss of labor's cherished card check proposal has all the hallmarks of a face-saving way to begin the process of ditching this political hot potato entirely.  Wait and see -- committee members will next demur that their plates are too full with health care and financial issues.  In no time, union election reform will be off the agenda entirely, at least until the next Presidential election cycle.

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