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EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT
January 15, 2009

Thanks for joining me for this month's At the Center message.

As we move into 2009, one of the most critical legislative issues we will face is the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as the Card Check Bill. This legislation has the potential to completely alter the current process for union certification by making it easier for unions to organize, effecting small and large businesses alike.

As the leading business organization in Lancaster County, we are taking this issue very seriously. In today's economic climate, we believe government should seek ways to bring employers and employees together, not create division among workers, unions and employers that can damage the economic growth.

Under the current system, a private ballot vote provides workers the ability to vote on whether to unionize or not without interference from co-workers, employers, managers or union leaders. The Card Check Bill eliminates the private ballot and forces workers to make decisions on unionization in front of union organizers, allowing for the possibility of coercion and intimidation.

Under the proposed Card Check Bill, a union would be certified the moment it collected a majority, or 51 percent of signed authorization cards and would be recognized as the bargaining unit without an election. At this point, both parties must begin collective bargaining.

This particular legislation also creates other non-business friendly provisions, such as allowing government arbitrators to set all the terms and conditions of the union contract unless the union and the employer can meet unrealistic time lines for agreement; and imposing dramatic new penalties on employers, but not unions. 

This Bill will likely come up for vote in the House in the near future and I am pleased to note that Congressman Pitts has pledged a no vote. However, on the Senate side, Pennsylvania will be a key as Senator Casey has indicated he will vote for the bill and Senator Spector has remained undecided.

Our arguments against this Bill are solidly behind business. We believe workers are better protected from intimidation by being able to cast their vote privately. Further, we believe the mandate of a government arbitrator controlling wages, benefits, hours and other important employment details is wrong. And finally we believe this legislation creates uncertainty for business planning and diminishes the control you have over your operations and property.

This will be a significant vote for business, so please get involved. Write to your congressional leaders voicing your concerns on the bill and asking for a No vote. Contact information for elected officials can be found on our web site at www.lancasterchamber.com  and click on Advocacy. Or, consider making a donation to BizPac, The Chamber's political action committee that advocates for the business community on issues like this one.

Your Chamber is partnering with other regional chambers, associations and the Pennsylvania and U.S. Chambers on a grassroots effort to defeat the passage of the Card Check Bill. Chamber representatives are also meeting with elected officials on your behalf to voice the concerns of the business community.

Thank you for your assistance and involvement on this very important issue, for your membership in The Lancaster Chamber, and for your commitment to being At the Center of this prosperous community.

 

Thomas T. Baldrige, President
Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry