The Press-Enterprise Reports Grim Outlook For Labor's Agenda In Congress

As we previously reported here, shortly after Republican Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts to fill the Senate Seat Edward Kennedy held for 46 years, Senate Republicans joined by a number of Democrats successfully used the filibuster to block President Obama's controversial nomination of attorney Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. One Wall Street Journal commentator has referred to Mr. Becker as "Labor's Secret Weapon."

The center piece of labor's agenda in Congress is the Employee Free Choice Act. If passed, the Employee Free Choice Act would, among other things, do away with the use of secret ballot elections to determine whether employees want to be represented by a union and require appointment of an arbitrator if the employer and the union are not able to agree on a contract.

In an article entitled "Outlook Grim for Labor's Agenda in Congress," The Press-Enterprise reports the rejection of Craig Becker "casts heavy doubt on whether the [Employee Free Choice Act] has any chance of passing." Author Jack Katzanek reports "experts in the fields of labor law and politics say, if Becker's supporters were not able to bring his name up for a vote — to say nothing of confirming him — it signals that it's likely the Senate will not pass the Employee Free Choice Act. . . ."

Among those interviewed for that article was AALRR partner Thomas A. Lenz who served as a staff attorney with the NLRB before joining AALRR. Tom, who has closely followed labor's efforts to get the Employee Free Choice Act passed told The Press-Enterprise the Employee Free Choice Act has little chance of being passed in its current form in the current political climate. " 'I think that right now the current version of the [Employee Free Choice Act] is a dead issue.'" Tom explained that union leaders will likely have to compromise on some of the key features of the Employee Free Choice Act if they wish to have a realistic hope of getting it passed. Tom noted that some legislators would accept a modified version of the measure that preserves secret ballot elections but streamlines the process of determining whether employees do or do not want to represented by a union. '"I think there would be legislators who would accept that,'" said Tom.

Tom will speak in detail about the Employee Free Choice Act and other pending legislation and the potential impact of such measures on employers at AALRR's 11th Annual Employment Law Conference on March 25, 2010, at the Cerritos Center for Performing Arts.

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