6/25/08

Brace for aggressive union organizing

Barack, Stern set national unionization goal

With Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) having secured the delegates to become the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, employers should be braced for a possible dramatic change in the labor landscape, according to Jackson Lewis LLP, a national employment law firm that represents management. "Employers across all industries must prepare for extremely aggressive union organizing campaigns that will be waged on a national scale," says Michael J. Lotito, a partner at Jackson Lewis and recognized workplace law expert.

Speaking via satellite to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) convention in Puerto Rico, Obama vowed to stand by re-elected SEIU president Andy Stern and union members by ushering in a union-friendly administration, the law firm noted. He also vowed, if elected, to pass the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act.

"Anna Burger, Secretary-Treasurer of the SEIU, predicts that the labor movement will add 1 million members per year if EFCA becomes law," notes Lotito.

"The so-called Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) would grant unions certification as soon as they had collected signature cards from half the workers, effectively stripping workers of their right to vote in a government supervised secret ballot election," Jackson Lewis stated. "EFCA would also impose substantial fines for employers' mistakes, as well as force first contracts determined by a third party arbitrator, even if the employer and the union both might disagree with the mandated final contract terms."

The SEIU, one of the nation's largest and most powerful unions, has campaigned aggressively in support of EFCA. It plans to spend $75 million on federal and state elections in the current two-year political cycle. According to Jackson Lewis, part of this plan includes aggressively pressuring or punishing political candidates who fail to follow through on pro-union vows after being elected.

The convention also established a new direction for the SEIU, voting to fund international, industry-specific campaigns over the traditionally favored local initiatives.

"With its new plans for consolidating power, the SEIU's leadership will effectively be able to dictate who will be targeted for corporate campaigns, how long they will last, and the terms under which they will end. The time for employers to define themselves positively before the union defines them negatively is now," says Philip B. Rosen, managing partner and chair of the Jackson Lewis LLP Labor Practice Group.

(hr.cch.com)

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