The Washington Post’s editorial staff’s report on its visit with the President-elect includes the following paragraph:
On the Employee Free Choice Act, which would allow unions to organize by obtaining a majority of signatures from employees in a workplace rather than having to win secret-ballot elections, Mr. Obama signaled willingness to consider other mechanisms to address the concern that employers unfairly use the current process to intimidate workers not to join unions. And he seemed in no hurry to have Congress bring it up. “If we’re losing half a million jobs a month, then there are no jobs to unionize, so my focus first is on those key economic priority items,” Mr. Obama said, declining to state whether he wanted to see the issue debated during his first year in office.
It would be churlish to point out that federal labor law already prohibits employers from interfering with employees’ union activities or intimidating them in the course of union elections (no promises [bribes or rewards for voting against union representation], spying, interrogation, or threats — we labor lawyers tell our clients). But that’s fine — let them pass the same law again if it makes Big Labor happy. (Jonathan Chait seems utterly ignorant of current labor law on this point, cooking up images of employer harrassment — so maybe passing existing law all over again would actually work with an uninformed Left). And we already expect ferocious enforcement activity by the Labor Department.
The Post editors are impressed with this and other signs of “pragmatism.” We’ll see how telling these signs are: so far the gargantuan stimulus measure doesn’t seem to follow this rubric. But whatever the motivation, whether a heartfelt desire for moderation or a canny assessment that it would be best to avoid an unnecessary Congressional free-for-all, the decision to dump or postpone card-check legislation should be applauded. The recession is bad enough — let’s not chase whatever employment-providing businesses are left out of the country.