Workers threatened by Prez Bam unions

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"
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Jobless surge would accompany forced-unionism law

If downtown business people are quite welcoming of Washington's new order, there is one thing that is setting their hair on fire: the possible passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. "We're uniformly against it," said Steve Falk, president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

The proposed law, a bipartisan measure co-sponsored by East Bay congressman George Miller, has been vigorously pushed by labor to combat what it sees as unionization efforts on numerous shop floors being sabotaged by employer harassment. The key provision of the bill would allow employees to join a union if a majority simply signed cards rather than, as at present, vote by secret ballot. Business organizations charge that such a change would worsen existing labor-management relations and kill jobs. Before the election it had been stymied by a GOP filibuster.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

President-elect Barack Obama has said he would sign the bill if delivered to his desk. Organized labor spent $400 million to help Democrats get elected on Tuesday, and leaders are hoping their efforts will be rewarded by an increased Democratic majority in Congress. But Jonathan Tasini, executive director of the pro-union Labor Research Association in New York, is not sure it will get that far. "Now that the bill is closer to reality, will conservative Democrats go for it, especially given a knockdown, drag-out fight with the business community?"

An employment law specialist in the San Francisco office of Littler Mendelson P.C. was breathing a sigh of relief Thursday because it is likely that Democrats will fall short of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Some pro-labor attorneys believe a compromise will be worked out, and a bill passed, giving the ailing labor movement new life. Still, the San Francisco attorney added, the advice his firm gives to company clients concerned about passage of the law - be proactive with good wages and benefits, grievance procedures and management practices - remains valid. "Employers should be doing these things anyway," he said.


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