Report: Controversial 'Card Check' Provision Dropped from Union Bill

July 17, 2009 ( - The controversial "card check" provision in a union organizing bill has been dropped from the proposal in the U.S. Senate, the New York Times reported.

The provisionwould have required employers to recognize a union as soon as a majority of workers signed cards saying they wanted union representation instead of the current rule under which employers can insist on a secret-ballot election.

The Times report said a half-dozen senators considered pro-union opted to scrap the “card check” provision in the hope that would build up enough support to make the measure filibuster proof – 60 votes.

In place of “card check,” several Senate and labor officials told the Times, the revised bill would require shorter unionization campaigns and faster elections.

Though some details remain to be worked out, under the expected revisions, union elections would have to be held within five or 10 days after 30% of workers signed cards favoring having a union, the Times report indicated. Currently, the campaigns often run two months.

Key senators are considering several other measures including one that would require employers to give union organizers access to company property. Another would bar employers from requiring workers to attend anti-union sessions that labor supporters deride as “captive audience meetings.”

The Times said unions still saw the latest developments as an important victory because the measure with "card check" cut out would still give companies less time to press workers to vote against unionizing.

Some business leaders hailed the dropping of "card check," while others called the move a partial triumph because the bill still contained provisions they oppose.  Business opposes the bill's provisions to have binding arbitration if an employer fails to reach a contract with a new union. Companies argue it would be wrong for government-designated arbitrators to dictate what a company's wages and benefits should be, the Times said.

"Binding arbitration is an absolute nonstarter for us," Mark McKinnon, a spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute, a business group opposing the bill, told the newspaper. "We see it as a hostile act to have arbitrators telling businesses what they have to do."

Union officials have urged the White House and Senate leaders to schedule a vote this month, but Senate leaders have indicated that the body is so preoccupied with health care legislation that September would be as soon as it could take up the union bill.

"This is a very emotional issue," Senator Arlen Specter, (D-Pennsylvania), told the Times. "I cannot remember an issue this emotional in all my years in the Senate."