Labor "Outhustled" on Card Check
Today the Los Angeles Times ran the following headline: Labor unions find themselves card-checkmated. The article details how the business community has united around the Card Check issue and effectively engaged grassroots opposition.
Click HERE for the full article. Here are some select excerpts:
"When it came to key senators, business interests outmuscled labor. Lincoln, for example, reported overwhelmingly more calls and letters from business interests and their supporters than from the union side. And thanks to "airlift" programs run by the Chamber of Commerce and allied groups, some key senators received far more personal visits in Washington from card-check opponents than from supporters."
"We were outspent, outhustled and outorganized," said one chagrined union advisor who was not authorized to speak by name.
"The legislation is severely challenged," said John Wilhelm, hospitality president of Unite Here -- the textile, hotel and culinary workers' union. "The unified business community has been so strident about the issue, they have effectively achieved solidarity among Republican senators."
Obama Talks Card Check
President Obama brought up the Card Check issue at at town hall meeting in New Mexico this week. His comments echo reports coming from Washington DC over the past few weeks; namely that Card Check supports currently lack votes in the Senate, but that a compromise is in the works.
Here is an excerpt from Bloomberg.com:
â€œThere may be areas of compromise to get this bill done,â€ť Obama said today at a town hall meeting in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, outside Albuquerque. â€œThatâ€™s what weâ€™re working on.â€ť
Right now, he said, â€œthere arenâ€™t enough votes in the Senate to get it passed.â€ť
In his remarks, President Obama voiced his support for the Employee Free Choice Act.
LaborPains.org, a joint blog of the Center for Union Facts and the Employee Freedom Action Committee, includes links to video clips from the town hall meeting. Click HERE to connect to that blog post.
State Contract Preference Critique
Local vendor preference ordinances are controversial for chambers. On one hand, who doesn't want local companies to benefit from government contracting. On the other hand, a local preference clause in your city, county or state may cause retaliatory government contract provisions when your local companies bid on projects in other cities or states.
Also, it is not always easy to determine which companies are, in fact, local. Is the engineering firm headquartered in your city that employees 15 people any more "local" than the firm headquartered out of state that has employees 50?
The Detroit News took a different line of questioning. They published an editorial with a taxpayer-focused critique of state preference legislation pending in Michigan. Here is an excerpt:
"Michigan lawmakers have been busily working on packages of bills with titles like "Hire Michigan First" and "Buy Michigan First." Unfortunately, the well-meaning legislation involves trade-offs that don't necessarily benefit taxpayers and seem unlikely to have much of an impact on jobs...
Lawmakers say about $13.6 billion of the state's $16 billion in annual contracts go to Michigan businesses -- or about 85 percent. They want to improve that, so one part of the bill package gives Michigan businesses a 10 percent advantage over out-of-state businesses in competing for state contracts. In other words, an in-state firm could bid $1.07 million to print a batch of state park brochures and be considered a lower bidder than a company from another state or country that bid an even $1 million.
The whole purpose of competitive bidding is to restrain government expenses, which, in turn, holds down taxes. The ultimate cost to provide the above example's $700,000 home-field advantage would be borne by taxpayers. Don't they deserve a break?"
Their math is wrong, the scenario they laid out would cost taxpayers an additional $70k not $700k, but the premise holds up.
To read the full editorial, click HERE.
Together for Recovery
The US Chamber's Business Civic Leadership Center has launched TogetherForRecovery.org, a website described as a "one-stop-shop for information and guidance regarding economic recovery."
In addition to information about the stimulus package and federal funding opportunities from various departments, the site also highlights dozens of ways the business community is helping lead economic recovery. Examples include Bank of America's program to assist multicultural homeowners facing foreclosure and McDonald's and Visa's cooperation to launch the country's largest employer-based financial literacy program - the McDonald's Practical Money Skills Program.
The site also helps individuals and corporate citizens find ways to get involved through partnerships with other non-profit organizations and community groups.
Check out TogetherForRecovery.org and contact the US Chamber if you are interested in hosting a recovery related community program in your region.
Card Check Compromise?
Is a compromise in the works for the controversial Card Check bill? This quote from Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), EFCA's chief proponent in the Senate, suggests so...
"Compromises are going to be made. ... It probably won't be card-check because too many people are opposed to it now."
A editorial in today's Washington Post - The Imperfect Union Bill - acknowledges EFCA's inherent flaws but suggests that there are currently unfair barriers to union organization. The editorial chastises the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace saying, "Instead of engaging in a good-faith effort to fix the problem, the group, the Coalition for a Democratic Workforce, chooses to deny that there is a problem."
The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, last week, released a letter urging the Senate to oppose "union efforts to trump up a so-called "compromise" on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) will further violate worker rights and place an undue burden on small businesses."
Here are some other articles that suggest a Card Check compromise:
Iowa Independent - Harkin: Not enough support to pass â€˜card-checkâ€™ bill
Philadelphia Inquirer - Card-check may be stripped from bill
Stimulus: Cities vs. States
An article in today's Wall Street Journal highlights some of the headbutting going on between mayors and governors over stimulus funds. The article states:
Across the country, fights between local and state authorities have erupted as federal stimulus money is doled out. About $280 billion of the $787 billion federal stimulus package passed in February is set to flow through state and local governments.
Many mayors are grateful for getting some money they wouldn't have had otherwise. Still, mayors of several cities have blasted their governors for denying them money for big projects, for favoring suburban requests over urban needs, and for taking back state aid after doling out federal dollars.
Click HERE for the full article.
The city vs. state funding struggle, illustrated in this article by Charlotte, New York City, and Providence, underscores how challenging it is to organize and cooperate regionally when money is allocated by political jurisdictions.
Card Check Passes in Hawaii
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported this week that a Card Check provision passed both houses of the Hawaii legislature. A similar bill passed last year and was vetoed by Gov. Lingle. The Star-Bulletin's account is below:
The Democrat-controlled state House and Senate gave final approval yesterday to the measure, which permits a union to be certified if a majority of workers sign union authorization cards.
The proposal is mostly limited to agriculture businesses because theyâ€™re not covered by federal labor rules, and it exempts businesses with less than $5 million in annual revenues. Similar legislation expanding unions in many more industries nationwide is pending in the U.S. Congress.
The measure now heads to Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, who vetoed a previous â€ścard checkâ€ť bill last year. Lawmakers would then have to decide whether to use their overwhelming majorities to override her veto, which they declined to do last year.
Check back for more on this important emerging issue.
Site Selection Magazine Names Top 10
The May issue of Site Selection magazine listed 2008's 10 top performing economic development groups in the country. Organizations from cities in the central part of the country dominated. Chamber led economic development organizations were well represented, claiming 4 of the top 10 spots. A number of chambers were also listed among the honorable mentions.
Congratulations to all of the top 10 and particularly these ACCE member chambers: - Cincinnati USA Partnership Chambers recognized in the honorable mention category include: - Greater Akron Chamber For full results and information about all the 2008 honorees, check out Site Selection magazine.
- Dallas Regional Chamber
- Greater Houston Partnership
- Pittsburgh Regional Alliance
- Chattanooga Area Chamber
- Greater Des Moines Partnership
- Fort Worth Chamber
Congratulations to all of the top 10 and particularly these ACCE member chambers:
- Cincinnati USA Partnership
Chambers recognized in the honorable mention category include:
- Greater Akron Chamber
For full results and information about all the 2008 honorees, check out Site Selection magazine.
Politics of Twitter
For many of you this won't come a new news, but Twitter is quickly becoming the social media platform of choice for elected officials. Stateline.org's Kiera Manion-Fischer recently examined the Twitter phenomenon in an article titled: Twitter Becomes a Political Tool. Here is an excerpt:
"California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) used Twitter Tuesday (April 28) to let people know what his state was doing about swine flu. And one of Schwarzeneggerâ€™s would-be successors â€“ San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) â€“ alerted supporters that he would run for the stateâ€™s highest office in 2010 via the same process.
Schwarzenegger and Newsom are among a growing number of politicians and agencies taking advantage of the latest tool in text messaging to inform the public and rally support."
Follow the ACCE Policy Clearinghouse on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/ianscottacce
In my Policy Clearinghouse Column for the upcoming issue of ACCE's Chamber Executive magazine I explore social media applications for chamber government affairs programs. I used Twitter exclusively to conduct interviews and write the column. Look for the summer issue of Chamber Executive in your mailbox in early June.
States Making Cuts - Are They Smart, Enough?
With many legislative sessions close to wrapping up, state budgets are dominating local headlines. The general story is that states are favoring expenditure cuts over revenuehikes to close gaping budgets. That is good news for businesses and taxpayers, particularly in this economy. But are states making smart cuts? Are they cutting enough? Will the cuts cause short term pain, long term consequences or both.
Check out these articles and leave a comment with your opinion:
Today's Worthington (MN) Daily Globe read - State economic development funding falls victim to budget
"Minnesota economic development programs would be trimmed $21 million in a year when many programs are facing cuts in light of a $4.6 billion state budget deficit."
In Nevada, the Las Vegas Sun announced - Salary cuts, furloughs OKâ€™ed in budget deal
"State workers will take a 4 percent pay cut by being forced to take one furlough day a month while teachers and higher education employees also will be asked to take a 4 percent cut."
The Boston (MA) Globe offered this dire headline - State budget to be 'doom and gloom' for years to come
"The stateâ€™s commitment to health care reform, its funding levels to cities and towns, and the amount of money that goes to education could all be dramatically restructured."
The Detroit (MI) Free Press announced - Michigan lawmakers OK furloughs, budget cuts
"About 300 state employees face layoffs â€“ including 100 State Police troopers â€“ and most state workers will take six unpaid days off before October under a $300 million budget-cutting plan approved by lawmakers today.
The cuts...will slash $41 million in state aid to local communities...and a long list of human services programs would be reduced or wiped out.
The budget cuts are the first step toward erasing a projected $1.3-billion deficit for the current year...the rest of the $1.3-billion deficit will be filled in with about $1 billion in federal stimulus money."