"Friend of Labor" Speaks Out Against Card Check
In case you missed it...
Former senator and Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern comes out against Card Check in this op-ed from the Wall Street Journal. McGovern, a self-professed "longtime friend of labor unions," decries the Card Check bill as "counter to ideals that were once at the core of the labor movement." He builds his critique of the Card Check proposal around the central American philosophical value of freedom. Freedom to form an opinion and vote, freedom from intimidation and fear of reprisal; all of which Card Check would put in jeopardy for American workers.
Please share this article with elected officials who might be on the fence about this important issue.
Small Business Weighs In on the Financial Crisis
How is the financial instability of the past few weeks impacting your members? The Detroit Regional Chamber tried to answer that question this week by serving their small business members about the realized and anticipated impacts of tightened lending and failed consumer confidence. As expected the vast majority have seen an impact and expect the climate to persist.
Here is an expert from their press release:
DETROIT - Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber polled its small business members on the current crisis gripping Wall Street and the credit markets. Over 75 percent of the survey respondents are being negatively affected by such outcomes as higher interest rates for borrowing money, less access to capital and a decline in business as consumers adjust to the economic downturn. Almost 90 percent believe the financial crisis will have a harmful impact on their small businesses in the next six to 12 months.
"It is clear small businesses are struggling because of the fragile conditions in our financial markets today," said Sarah Hubbard, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber. "The crisis threatens to shut off the lifeblood for small businesses - access to money for creating jobs and growing business."
Approximately 75 percent want the federal government to quickly respond to the crisis with a comprehensive solution. Many of the respondents cautioned that whatever proposal is enacted must be well thought out and not do more harm than good to the economy.
"The Chamber will be communicating with the Michigan Congressional Delegation and the Bush Administration to ensure they are aware of the views of small businesses in the Detroit Region. Small businesses are looking to Washington D.C. for smart solutions to deal with the problem," continued Hubbard.
How is your chamber responding to the financial crisis? What is your strategy for communicating the value of chamber investment even in the face of hard financial times? Please leave a comment and share your opinion.
Card Checks Prevent Democratic Process In The Workplace
I am posting an article by Randy Gordon, President and CEO, Long Beach (CA) Area Chamber of Commerce who talks about the proposal to make it easier for workers to unionize and its impact on the business community:
One of America’s greatest electoral practices is the secret ballot vote. Each person, free from the influences of outside interests, when in a polling booth can vote without anyone knowing their choice. This has been how this country does business since its inception. These same rules apply in many meetings and elections that take place in the private sector, including how union organizing is done.
Currently, if employees wish to unionize, a secret ballot vote can be arranged and conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) or its state equivalent. This gives both sides the opportunity to influence the labor force on whether or not unionization would be the best for them. Then the individual employees vote in a secret ballot session. If a majority wishes to unionize, they become a union and start collective bargaining procedures. If a majority does not wish to unionize, they stay non-unionized.
Sounds fair, right?
Well two pieces of legislation threatens to change this. California’s AB 2386 (Nunez, D-Los Angeles) and Congressional bill “Employee Free Choice Act” (which is a misnomer) or EFCA are currently circulating in their respective legislatures. Both of these would change current labor laws to allow for a process known as “card checks” for unionization.
This method would allow union organizers the option of sending out “support cards” that the workforce simply has to sign saying they wish to unionize. If a majority sends it back to the NLRB, then they will automatically become a union.
The problem with this method is that these organizers have been known to intimidate, harass, and bother individuals until they sign off on his card. The pressure is often times relentless and employees do not have the freedom of a secret vote.
The Long Beach Chamber stands ready to defend the rights of employees to have a secret ballot vote on whether or not they wish to unionize. We officially oppose AB 2386 and are working with the United States Chamber of Commerce to help fight the “EFCA”. In the coming weeks, we will be launching a letter-writing campaign to prevent AB 2386’s passage. However, on a federal level, we need your help. We need you to contact your local congressional and state legislators to let them know that card checks is the wrong approach.
Recently, former United States Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate George McGovern penned an article in the Wall Street Journal urging his party to move away from card checks and that it goes against the democratic way of doing things. If McGovern thinks that these policies are too extreme for him, they probably are.
- Shaun Lumachi
Card Check - Did You Know?
By now I hope all business leaders are aware of Card Check and understand that this piece of legislation would be a game-changer for labor relations in this country. (If you are not, please check out PolicyClearinghouse.org or call me at 703-998-3530.) But you may have overlooked some of the critical details included in this proposal, for example the binding arbitration clause.
Under Card Check, collective bargaining would have to commence within 10 days of union certification. If the employer and the union fail to reach an agreement after 120 days, negotiations would enter binding arbitration before a federal arbitration panel. Binding arbitration provides no incentive for either side to bargain productively during the initial bargaining phase. In fact, it gives each side incentive to take the most extreme position possible.
As we approach the next congressional session, make sure you know the facts about Card Check and be ready to your elected representatives what the business community thinks.
Community Colleges see Swelling Ranks
Community colleges in North Carolina are experiencing an enrollment surge according to a recent article in the Raleigh News and Observer. Numbers are up 7-13% over last fall at community and technical colleges across the state, and the trend can be found nationwide according to this Aug 22 article from Inside Higher Ed.com. That article cites US Department of Education estimates that project at 10% increase in community college enrollment this year, equal to enrollment growth that occurred in 6 years from 2000 until 2006.
Historically, community college enrollment grows quickly when unemployment increases. This rationale holds true for North Carolina where unemployment is at 6.6% statewide, up nearly 2% from last August. However, administrators note that the influx of new students is coming, not only from career changers seeking re-training, but from would-be 4 year university students who are looking to save money on tuition. Which brings us back to the issue of college affordability.
Those of you who regularly follow the Clearinghouse Blog will recall two recent blog posts about college affordability: Prepaid College in Texas earlier this week, and Kentucky Chamber Tackles Post-Secondary Education Affordability in August. Its clear that the price of college tuition is a big issue for families and thus, a big issue for your members who desperately need new talent. Get in front of this important workforce issue. Check out the plans in Kentucky and Texas to see if they may work in your state. To find out how your chamber can better cooperate with the local community college go to the American Association of Community Colleges for their study on Market-Responsive Community Colleges. For a detailed look at how the American public perceives access to education and the rising cost of college, check out Squeeze Play: How Parents and the Public look at Higher Education Today, a study conducted by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.
Lessons Learned Pay Off for Houston
Hurricane Ike slammed directly into Galveston and Houston last Saturday, the latest in a parade of severe storms this busy hurricane season. This storm, with a near record 80 mile wide eye, brought category 2 sustained winds and a 13 foot storm surge to one of the nation's largest metropolitan areas. Communities on the Texas coast are still cleaning up and it is still far from business-as-usual, however, there are some bright spots.
Jeff Moseley, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, sent this interesting anecdote about lessons learned in the wake of natural disasters that I thought I would share.
"In 1983 (Hurricane) Alicia's winds carried gravel from downtown roofs and caused a cascade of broken glass to fill downtown streets. A city ordinance was then passed banning gravel as a roofing material and making those towers with gravel switch. Fast forward 25 years--Ike's winds only impacted 1/2% of the 400,000 windows in downtown. "
Our thoughts remain with the folks in Texas who are still without power, water, food and gasoline. Click HERE to learn how you can help.
Prepaid College in Texas
Last week Texas unveiled a new plan to help parents parents pay for their children's college education. The Texas Tuition Promise Fund allows families to lock-in current tuition and fee rates at state universities and community colleges for future attendance.
The new plan replaces the similar Texas Tomorrow Fund which ceased offering prepaid college tuition contracts to Texans in 2003. That program has left the state with huge deficits because state university tuition in Texas has increased over 40% since deregulation in 2003.
A year at the University of Texas - Austin currently costs $9,850 for in-state students. When it launched in 1996, the Texas Tomorrow Fund was selling 4 years at UT-Austin for $8,800.
To read more about the Texas Tuition Promise Fund, check out this article from the Dallas Morning News.
Card Check Info Session
The US Chamber has scheduled a conference call for next Thursday (Sept 25) at 2pm to discuss the Employee Free Choice Act, better known as Card Check. The proposed federal legislation -- blocked in 2007 but likely to resurface in 2009 -- would essentially abolish private ballot elections in union organizing drives.
If you are not plugged-in to this issue, try to find time to join this call. Card check is destined to be a major issue next year that will impact many of your members.
The call features two US Chamber speakers, Glenn Spencer, executive director of the Chamber's Workforce Freedom Initiative, and Mike Eastman, executive director of labor policy. It is free for US Chamber members, email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
For background info on Card Check, visit PolicyClearinghouse.org.
Tobacco Sales Ban in the Golden Gate City
Walgreens is suing the city of San Francisco over a law that bans tobacco sales in pharmacies. The law, which was passed in late July and is set to go into effect October 1, is being challenged because it singles out drug stores. The tobacco sales ban doesn't apply to grocery stores or big-box retailers that also have pharmacies.
If San Francisco is the nation's coal mine canary, and issues from mandatory paid sick leave to plastic bag bans suggest that it is, then other cities may soon attempt to impose regulations on where tobacco products can be sold.
For background information about this ordinance, check out this article from the San Francisco Chronicle.
Mandatory Sick Leave Off the Ballot in Ohio
Business leaders in Ohio are celebrating the removal of Issue 4 from this November's ballot. The proposal would have mandated that all companies offer paid sick leave to all employees and imposed restrictions on companies that already offer forms of paid leave.
In a letter today, Steve Millard, President and CEO of COSE (the Council of Smaller Enterprises, a division of the Greater Cleveland Partnership), explained why the measure was removed.
"Their proposal - poorly crafted and designed to create major havoc on Ohio's economy - was simply refused by legislators, the Governor, House and Senate leadership, most other sects of organized labor, the business community and a quickly growing percentage of Ohio's voters. As our efforts and the efforts of others in the state began to make the voting public become more aware of exactly what this issue would do to our state, the support for the issue started to turn.'
'This was a victory for us and all of our efforts. We knew from the start that small businesses were not against the idea of paid leave - research has shown that almost 90% of employers in our state provide some type of paid leave. What drew our concern and our opposition was the poorly drafted initiative that put many requirements on businesses that already provided leave and reduced the flexibility of our states employees and the attractiveness of our state as a place to grow and locate jobs. That opposition was able to stop this issue for November."
To read the full text of Steve's letter to COSE members, click HERE.