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The Card-Check Battle, Round Two

Publication Date: 
March 11, 2009
Business Week
Jane Sasseen

Professor William B. Gould IV is quoted in BusinessWeek in an article about the card-check provision in the Employee Free Choice Act, a proposed labor reform bill that has ben reintroduced in Congress this week. BusinessWeek writes:

Card check is the nickname for a legislative proposal by labor to make it easier for workers to unionize. Today companies can demand that workers who want a union vote by secret ballot. Labor officials instead want workers to opt for union representation simply by signing a card. Once 51% of the workers had signed a pro-union card, the company would have to ink a contract with the union within 120 days—or face binding arbitration.


Right now the GOP is gaining the upper hand in the Senate by drawing moderate Democrats toward their camp, potentially depriving labor of the 60 votes it needs. The Democrats know President Barack Obama cannot afford a big defeat, so they are starting to talk compromise. "I wouldn't be supportive of what's introduced, but I'm keeping my options open to see what amendments come forward," says Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), who has strong ties to business, has also signaled a desire to bridge the two camps.

If labor pulls back from the most controversial parts of the bill, that might provide cover for the hesitant—such as Nelson and fellow Democrats Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas—to sign up. "There is searching [for a solution] going on," says William B. Gould IV, a former head of the National Labor Relations Board who now teaches at Stanford Law School. Gould has discussed alternatives with the staff of Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). Adds Gould: "It's unclear at this point what the precise substance will be, but people are looking for options."