This week, supporters of the Employee Free Choice Act–a measure that would make it easier for workers to form unions–faced two setbacks, with several major retailers coming together to offer a watered-down compromise and a key Senator withdrawing support for the bill.
CEOs Outline Alternative Proposal that would Weaken Employee Free Choice Act
Three retailers–Costco, Starbucks, and Whole Foods–are supporting an alternative proposal to the Employee Free Choice Act. The proposal would weaken the Act by eliminating provisions that require unions to be recognized once a simple majority of workers agree to a union (called “card check“) and eliminating a requirement for arbitration if a contract is not reached within 120 days. However, it would improve union access to workers and set a fixed time period in which a union election must happen.
Labor unions and the bill’s sponsors have rejected the proposal saying that it originates from employers who are not serious about labor law reform.
Starbucks and Whole Foods have a history of anti-union intimidation efforts. For example, here in Grand Rapids, Starbucks fired a union organizer working at the East Grand Rapids Starbucks location and engaged int other anti-union efforts.
Key Senator Withdraws Support
A key Republican Senator, Arlen Specter, recently withdrew his support for the bill. In the past, Specter has co-sponsored the Employee Free Choice Act but he said this week that he would not help stop a Republican filibuster of the bill.
Some Republicans have vowed to keep the bill from becoming law, while Democrats have struggled to convince their caucus to support the legislation. By many accounts, Democrats need Specter’s support to overcome a filibuster.