Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, June 11, CDW submitted a letter to all members of the House of Representatives signed by 147 organizations from around the country opposing H.R. 2474, the so-called Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. As CDW’s Chair Kristen Swearingen explained, “H.R. 2474 attacks the gig economy and franchise business model, both of which have provided new and entrepreneurial opportunities to a diverse group of Americans throughout our country. The bill would also infringe on employees’ rights to privacy and association, destabilize labor management relations, deprive small businesses of access to confidential legal advice, and strip all workers of Right-to-Work protections. H.R. 2474 is in essence a heavy-handed attempt to increase union membership and union revenue streams without regard to American workers, small businesses, entrepreneurs or economy growth. Members of Congress should not cave to special interests and should reject this bill quickly and completely.”
Today, the Washington Examiner published an op-ed from Coalition for a Democratic Workplace chair Kristen Swearingen York titled “Stealing workers’ secret ballots: A ‘card-check’ sequel that’s worse than the original,” which reads:
Summer is the season for bad sequels. This time, it’s a handful of U.S. lawmakers — led by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., kowtowing to union bosses ahead of the 2020 election by trying to revive the old, audience-panned “card check” bill from last decade, with a host of new villainous additions.
Those unfortunate enough to recall the original 2005 release of the deceptively named “Employee Free Choice Act” can’t forget its main antagonist — “card check” — a provision that would strip workers’ right to vote privately on whether to unionize their workplace. Opinion polls consistently showed that employees, including those in union households, routinely rejected this affront to workplace democracy. EFCA went beyond killing voting rights, however, with a provision that would have given unelected, unqualified, and unaccountable third parties plenary power over private contracts via “binding interest arbitration.”
It didn’t work, fortunately. Despite aggressive union lobbying and Democratic control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, EFCA was unpopular and had to be abandoned.
Fast forward to the present and Sanders, Warren, and likely 2020 presidential candidates Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., have introduced the cynically mislabeled “Workplace Democracy Act.” This is just more than just a devious effort to revive card check and binding interest arbitration. It also includes provisions to strike right-to-work legal protections for employees in 28 states, curb opportunities for people to work independently through gig economy platforms or contractor roles, and codify the National Labor Relations Board’s controversial joint employment standard that continues to threaten our nation’s small and local businesses.
If these points aren’t concerning enough, the bill would also interfere with attorney-client confidentiality and make it harder for businesses, and particularly small businesses, to secure legal advice on complex labor law matters.
Finally, it would strip away “secondary boycott” protections, which prevent unions using their exemptions from antitrust laws and immunity from some state laws from targeting business for anti-competitive reasons and purposes other than organizing.
While this all may just seem like a “Fantasia” for union lobbyists, the threat is real. Organized labor almost convinced Congress to pass EFCA in 2010. And if we learned anything from the eight years of anti-business decisions by the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board, bad labor policy does nothing to promote robust job growth nor to increase wages.
It is conventional wisdom that a Democratic presidential candidate cannot emerge as the party’s nominee without extensive support from labor unions. And union officials have made signing onto the Workplace Democracy Act the ante to be considered for labor’s war chest that still holds hundreds of millions of dollars.
Nonetheless, supporters have remained fairly quiet about the bill. It’s not surprising, considering the reception the public gave it last time around.
The media outreach is part of a six-figure, ongoing campaign by CDW to warn of this “Workplace Democracy Attack.”
FOR RELEASE: June 20, 2018
National Coalition Warns Of Sanders and Warren’s “Workplace Democracy Attack”
Coalition for a Democratic Workplace Calls Out Card Check Sequel
Washington, D.C. — Today, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) launched a multi-prong educational campaign to push back against the so-called “Workplace Democracy Act”—an unwise, unfair, anti-democratic bill that revives the failed “card check” scheme to eliminate secret ballot elections.
The initial six figure launch includes a new website and a full-page ad in USA Today warning of the “Cracked Vision for 2020” co-sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), all of whom would need union support if they seek the 2020 Democratic nomination. The ad warns that the card check sequel “is worse than the first.”
Areas of distribution will include Washington, D.C., Burlington, Vermont, and Boston, Massachusetts to ensure that the staffs and electorates for Sen. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are alerted to this direct attack on workplace democracy.
CDW chair Kristen Swearingen York said, “In anticipation of the 2020 elections, unions’ Washington lobbyists are up to their old tricks, trying to buy influence and pushing changes that would allow them to steamroll over the rights of workers, small and local businesses, entrepreneurs and the gig economy all in the name of making it easier to unionize.”
She continued, “It’s was hard to fathom legislation worse than the card check bill that went down in flames less than a decade ago, until we saw this rotten sequel. We are disappointed that four senators and possible presidential contenders are so out of touch with America that they would support a bill that obviously inflicts substantial harm on workers, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and job creators. Our goal is to ensure there is enough visibility on this issue that moderate, sensible elected leaders across the country will oppose this Workplace Democracy Attack.”
The Coalition today also sent a letter to legislators co-signed by more than 125 national and local organizations opposing the bill. The letter can be found here.
The campaign also launched WorkplaceDemocracyAttack.com, where more information can be found on the details of the cynically misnamed “Workplace Democracy Act.”
The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace represents 500 national and local organizations, associations, non-profits, and employers. It worked extensively to defeat card check legislation from 2005 to 2010 and has successfully litigated against anti-democratic, anti-employer, and anti-employee legislation and regulation.