Friday, October 9, 2015

Sanders, Pocan unveil card check bill

Card check recognition -- which unions and their allies call “majority sign-up” -- is the key feature of a labor law reform measure Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) introduced this week.

Sen. Bernie Sanders
The Workplace Democracy Act, announced the day before a White House summit on workers rights, also would mandate mediation and arbitration between labor and management if they don’t agree on a first contract following union certification.

Card check recognition and first contract arbitration are two key provisions of the former Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a large rewrite of federal labor law which unions and their allies started pushing almost a decade ago. Another section – high and multiple fines for corporate labor-law breaking – was in a separate bill, the Wage Act, unveiled in September.

Sen. Sanders said:
Millions of Americans who want to join unions are unable to do so because of the coercive and often illegal behavior of their employers. The benefits of joining a union are clear: higher wages, better benefits and a more secure retirement. If we are serious about reducing income and wealth inequality and rebuilding the middle class, we have got to substantially increase the number of union jobs in this country. 
Card check recognition mandates that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) certify a union represents workers if a simple majority of them sign valid authorization cards, rather than going through the time-consuming, often-delayed NLRB election process. Firms often abuse and manipulate the elections process, besides openly breaking labor law during campaigns. The Sanders-Pocan bill also says that once the union is recognized, the firm must open bargaining within 10 days.

If they can’t agree on a pact within 90 days, the union or the bosses can seek compulsory mediation. If they still can’t agree after a month of that, they submit remaining issues to binding arbitration.

  • Press Associates, Inc., contributed to this report.