Inside This Issue - Opinion
Coalition prevails on card check
April 6th, 2009
Overshadowed by efforts to address the economic crisis and reform the health care system, an issue that under normal circumstances would have been top of mind for retail pharmacy operators appears to have come to a resolution favorable to the business community.
Speaking on the Senate floor late last month, Arlen Specter (R., Pa.) said he will not support the Employee Free Choice Act, commonly referred to as the card check bill, apparently ending its chances for passage in the current session of Congress.
The measure, which would have made it much easier for unions to organize workers, polarized Republicans and Democrats in Congress and business and labor across the country. Proponents saw the bill as a way to reinvigorate the union movement; opponents asserted that it would result in added costs for employers and the loss of jobs.
In announcing his decision not to vote for cloture, a procedure that would end debate on the issue and thus a potential Republican filibuster, Specter questioned some of the mechanisms the law would have put in place: “On the merits, the issue which has emerged at the top of the list for me is the elimination of the secret ballot, which is the cornerstone of how contests are decided in a democratic society. The bill’s requirement for compulsory arbitration if an agreement is not reached within 120 days may subject the employer to a deal he or she cannot live with. Such arbitration runs contrary to the basic tenet of the Wagner Act for collective bargaining, which makes the employer liable only for a deal he or she agrees to.”
Specter noted that lobbying efforts related to the legislation exceeded those for any other bill in memory. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Retail Federation, among others, mounted effective campaigns to turn the tide against card check.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores contributed to the apparent defeat of the bill, working in sync with the chamber and other groups.
“This is a good example of effective coalition work,” says NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson. “There are certain issues on which we take the lead because they are specific to our members.
“The reason I’m involved on the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is that it works on broader issues that also have a financial impact on our members, and it can therefore exercise more influence because it can unite the entire business community. The card check bill is a perfect example of that because there’s more strength in numbers when we’re working on those broader macro issues.”
With such groups and individual companies weighing in against the Employee Free Choice Act, businesses won’t have to contend with a new set of labor requirements at a time when many of them of them are struggling just to keep their heads above water.