Check mate? | Arkansas Blog

Check mate?

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Times contributor Paul Barton sends this piece from Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON – The offices of Arkansas Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, both Democrats, issued statements Thursday afternoon denying Wednesday morning Internet chatter - apparently generated by some labor sources - that they had agreed to support controversial, union-backed “card-check” legislation.

According to supporters, “card-check,” or the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) would amend federal labor law, specifically the National Labor Relations Act, to make it "amend the National Labor Relations Act to make it easier for employees to form, join, or assist” unions and threatening employers who try to interfere with threats of unfair labor practices.

Under current law, the NLRB will certify a union as the exclusive representative of bargaining unit employees by either a “card check process or secret ballot election, if more than 30 percent of employees in a bargaining unit sign statements asking for representation by a union. Under the proposed new law, EFCA would require the NLRB to certify a bargaining representative without directing an election if a majority of the bargaining unit employees sign cards stating that as their preference.

Employers say it will intimidate workers into joining unions by eliminating the secret-ballot option. It is easily regarded as one of the five or 10 most emotionally charged issues facing Congress this year.

The statement issued today by Lincoln’s office, who generally receives high voter-approval scores from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘Senator Lincoln is more concerned today about strengthening our economy; she’ll worry later about collective bargaining rules when the issue comes to a vote in the Senate.”

And Pryor’s statement said: “This legislation is not perfect, and while I have been supportive in the past, I will consider amendments to make it better if and when it is considered by the Senate. The open legislative process is what makes laws better, including committee consideration. Labor and the business community can find common ground on this issue, but so far, neither side is currently open to compromise.

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