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Friday, April 03, 2009

Think Card Check is Dead? Think Again.

20090403_CheckCardSen. Arlen Specter's recent announcement that he will not vote for cloture on card check essentially assures that the Republican minority can block this legislation from ever reaching the Senate floor for a vote.

 

While that may have caused a sigh of relief amongst many in the business community, it's highly unlikely the Employee Free Choice Act will go quietly into the night.

 

As the Wall Street Journal recently noted:

In theory, his decision to join his 40 GOP colleagues in a filibuster kills the bill. In reality, the business community just moved into a far more dangerous phase. Big Labor spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama and other Democrats and get card check; it won't give up...

All of which explains why, in the past weeks, the new talking point is "compromise." The union goal is to gin up support for a watered-down version of "card check," one that nervous Senate Democrats such as Arkansas's Blanche Lincoln or Colorado's Michael Bennet (both up for election) -- as well as a Republican or two -- would feel comfortable putting on the floor for debate. Once the unions fly past a filibuster, they could then "fix" the bill back to the way they like it.

To make this strategy work, the unions need some in the business community to provide political cover to Senate supporters. Democrats took their first stab at this late last week, when news leaked that the CEOs of three companies -- Whole Foods, Starbucks and Costco -- were breaking with the rest of the business world to support some sort of compromise, although the details were vague.

To paraphrase our friend William Shakespeare, coercion by any other name would still smell as sweet.

Much has been made about the anti-democratic nature of the bill, but in truth the bill's fundamental flaw is that is exposes countless industries to forces that will make them less competitive, less innovative, and less efficient.

Want proof? Simply look at the most heavily unionized segments today, all bastions of innovation and efficiency: auto companies, the airlines, education, and the federal government. If not for taxpayer support, each of these would cease to exist. Just ask Rick Wagoner.

It's no coincidence that while Detroit automakers find themselves deep in the red, foreign-based manufacturers with plants in right to work states continue to thrive. Not surprising since job growth and GDP output in right to work states has far outpaced states with a more heavily unionized workforce.

In fact, recent analysis shows that "for every 3 percentage points gained in union membership through card checks and mandatory arbitration, the following year's unemployment rate is predicted to increase by 1 percentage point and job creation is predicted to fall by around 1.5 million jobs."

Card check all but guarantees a sharp increase in the cost of labor which will ultimately be passed on to the consumer. If you think steak is expensive, wait until you see the price of a cheeseburger with the union label.

Gone are the days of sweat shops and company stores, when clamoring masses banded together to combat truly exploitative business practices . No, let's call card check what it really is: a top-down power grab with a rosy title.

"We will pass the Employee Free Choice Act," President Obama told more than 100 top labor officials in a closed-door meeting."  Take him at his word.

Michael Harms | Post a Comment | Email Article


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