The proposed Employee Free Choice Act, or “Card Check” legislation, currently being debated in Washington poses real risks for the nation’s union construction workers, claims a new analysis released recently by AGC
Source: Associated General Contractors of America, Arlington, Va.
The proposed Employee Free Choice Act, or Card Check legislation, currently being debated in Washington poses real risks for the nation’s union construction workers, claims a new analysis released recently by AGC. The report singled out provisions in the bill requiring federal arbitrators to settle all but the briefest of contract negotiations as particularly problematic.
Having Washington-appointed officials set final contract terms for individual companies would make it harder to maintain a central benefit of unionized construction, collective bargaining, said Stephen Sandherr, AGC chief executive officer, an association that represents both union and non-union construction firms. Sandherr said Card Check undermines the common practice of having multiple construction firms agree to regional labor agreements (collective bargaining), which is designed to set a level playing field between different firms. Since Card Check requires federally appointed arbitrators to set labor contracts for any time a firm canÌt reach one within 120 days, regions would see multiple and widely varied contracts based on the whims and decisions of the arbitrators.
Sandherr added that the legislation also would put the pensions of single-craft unions at risk, since it will make it easier for large multi-craft unions to recruit across a variety of skill sets. The resulting loss in pension contributions at the now depleted ranks of the single-craft unions will undermine savings programs for countless hard-working, highly skilled professionals, he noted. These concerns come on top of the much-debated issue of non-union workers’ right to a private vote in deciding whether to join a union. The bill also deprives non-union construction workers of the ability to negotiate pay levels, work rules and schedules because Washington-appointed officials will do that instead under the legislation.