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Be Careful What You Wish For

Big Labor’s fan club in the blogosphere had been hawking some sort of business community “compromise” on card check. A crack in the anti-card check line of defense! Er. . . not quite. Yes a grand total of three firms — Costco, Whole Foods and Starbucks has gotten together. (The last two are largely non-union firms. Whole Foods in the past has not exactly extended open arms to unions.) But all the business lobbying groups shot down any idea of a “deal.” More to the point, it turns out that the “compromise” means keeping the secret ballot and dumping mandatory arbitration.

The Washington Post reports: “The alternative legislation backed by the companies would tighten some organizing rules in favor of workers while keeping the secret ballot and leaving out mandatory arbitration.” They don’t say what those organizing rules are. (A labor lawyer has been peddling a variation on the card check scheme but these companies seem to be defending the secret ballot for all workers.) It must come as a disappointment that the best they could get out of major Democratic donor Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is a repudiation of the two main planks of Big Labor’s bill. Doesn’t anyone in the business community support stripping workers of secret ballots and putting their fate in the hands of government-appointed arbitrators? I guess not.

One additional note: Management attorney Jay Krupin is quoted in the AP story above in conjunction with coverage of a potential compromise on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). I contacted him directly and he explained, “The 70/50/30 compromise [secret ballot is avoided if 70% of employees sign cards, there is an option for the union to hold an election if it gets authorization from only 50% and secret ballot elections are required if the obtains only 30%] was a prediction I made as to where EFCA may end up. I do not endorse, advocate, or support EFCA or any changes in the federal labor laws.” He does not represent any of the three companies supposedly mulling a compromise. And as for mandatory arbitration, he says, “The mandatory arbitration proposal is an extremely troubling provision . . . It is virtually unworkable in a business context.”


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