The New York Times reported that several Democrats have dropped one of the central provisions of the pro-labor Employee Free Choice Act, which would have made it easier for workers to unionize.
The compromise on the bill has been in discussion for months and was pushed by Democrats hoping to garner the support of the more conservative lawmakers in the party. As the New York Times reported:
The so-called card-check provision -- which senators decided to scrap to help secure a filibuster-proof 60 votes -- would have required employers to recognize a union as soon as a majority of workers signed cards saying they wanted a union. Currently, employers can insist on a secret-ballot election, a higher hurdle for unions.
The abandonment of card check was another example of the power of moderate Democrats to constrain their party's more liberal legislative efforts. Though the Democrats have a 60-40 vote advantage in the Senate, and President Obama supports the measure, several moderate Democrats opposed the card-check provision as undemocratic.
The card-check provision was a core part of the legislation and the one component that has been attacked the most by corporate PR campaigns. The provision would have allowed unions to form when a majority of workers signed cards, as opposed to drawn-out National Labor Relations Board elections in which companies frequently subject workers to harassment and intimidation.
As Facing South reported, several conservative Democrats from the South, including Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, have aligned with business interests and have voiced opposition to "card check," making it harder for Senate Democrats to secure the 60 votes needed to prevent a Republican filibuster.
Some labor leaders are insisting that even if card-check is dropped, the EFCA will still be an important piece of reform. Other leaders say that the compromise is just a natural process by which a bill becomes law, and they expect card-check to be added back in before the final vote.
Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, issued a short statement on the news:
As we have said from day one, majority signup is the best way for workers to have the right to choose a voice at their workplace. The Employee Free Choice Act is going through the usual legislative process, and we expect a vote on a majority signup provision in the final bill or by amendment in both houses of Congress. With Congress focusing on health reform legislation this summer, a vote on the EFCA is not expected until the fall at the earliest.