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Sen. Arlen Specter’s (R-PA) announcement that he would not support the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), thereby blocking Senate consideration of the bill, has been applauded by the National Grocers Association (N.G.A.) and other retail trade groups.
“Sen. Specter is to be commended for exercising his independent judgment, and N.G.A.’s members fully agree that to eliminate the private ballot, to enact one-sided onerous and punitive measures against employers during organizing campaigns, and to impose mandatory arbitration are not acceptable,” said N.G.A. President and CEO Tom Zaucha. “Union proponents of EFCA have made it clear this week any compromise alternative to EFCA is unacceptable. It can be expected that their ongoing labor reform efforts, to tilt the playing field, will continue to the disadvantage of employees and employers.”
“This legislation has been flawed from its inception,” added Jay Krupin, partner in Epstein, Becker & Green and N.G.A.’s labor relation counsel. “Sen. Specter's decision is a welcome measure to prevent the passage of this harmful and draconian attempt to change federal labor laws. The private ballot process is the only democratic and appropriate procedure for employees to determine whether they wish to be represented by a union. Having lived in the trenches for over 30 years representing food service, grocery and hospitality industry employers successfully defeating union organizing attempts, there is no doubt that a ‘card check only’ process will lead to increased union activity of coercion, intimidation and interference with employee rights to organize. The Employee Free Choice Act provides no "free choice" at all, and modifying the NLRA in any other form will not advance the purpose of the act, which is to protect employees and not unions."
According to N.G.A., opposition to the EFCA in both the House and the Senate is its No. 1 legislative priority.
Other members of the retail community added their voices in support of the legislator’s position. “RILA commends Sen. Specter’s commitment to defending the critical rights and protections afforded workers during a workplace organizing campaign,” noted Retail Industry Leaders Organization President Sandy Kennedy. “Sen. Specter’s opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act marks an important step forward in the fight to prevent workers from being silenced by this harmful legislation.”
To back its stance, Arlington, Va.-based RILA cited a recently released non-partisan economic impact study indicating that every three percentage points gained in union membership through card checks and mandatory arbitration will result in a one-percentage-point rise in the unemployment rate the following year. Thus, based on the predictions of EFCA proponents, the study suggests that 600,000 more Americans will lose their jobs by the end of 2010, the group contended.
Sen. Specter has recommended 12 revisions to the National Labor Relations Act, and if those changes didn’t give labor unions enough bargaining power, he said he “would be willing to reconsider Employees’ Free Choice legislation when the economy returns to normalcy.”