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Labor’s top-priority bill introduced

Kara Rowland and David R. Sands THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In what a Democratic sponsor described as “one of those defining moments” in U.S. history, a bill to make union organizing easier was introduced in both congressional chambers Tuesday, stoking an already intense lobbying assault between labor and business groups.

The “Employee Free Choice Act”—also referred to as “card check”—would enable workers to form a union if a majority of employees sign authorization cards, taking away the ability of businesses to require a secret-ballot election.

Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, and Rep. George Miller, California Democrat, unveiled the legislation by tying union organizing to the recession, saying card check is necessary to ensure that an economic recovery is “fair.”

President Obama already has signed executive orders supporting key labor-agenda items, but the new bill is expected to provoke the sharpest fight between the labor and business lobbies. Labor unions provided critical support for Mr. Obama in key Midwestern states during the presidential campaign and also claim credit for helping elect a number of new House and Senate Democrats.

Other parts of the bill would impose higher penalties on employers who violate labor laws and would require arbitration if companies and workers cannot reach a collective bargaining deal after 90 days.

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