Unions Must Stop Supporting Legislation That Kills Jobs

As Labor Day approaches, union bosses must put workers first by giving up their quest to pass the job-killing Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), since there is nothing "free" about it for workers or businesses.

Unemployment has risen to 9.7%, according to new numbers released on Friday, bringing it to the highest level in 26 years. In August alone, employers cut 216,000 jobs. EFCA will cause another 600,000 jobs to be lost in the first year of passage, which will continue to drive up unemployment numbers. In this economy, we need more job opportunities, not fewer.

Despite reports that the Employee "forced" Choice Act (EFCA) is off the table, Congress is still considering this dangerous legislation. And the "compromises" under consideration would "compromise" workers' rights and an employer's ability to grow his or her business.

"Card check" is the provision in this bill that would strip workers of the right to vote using a secret ballot during a union election. Instead, a union "election" would be held with just half of the workers publicly signing their name to a card. It would be immensely difficult to refuse to sign the card if a union boss followed you home.

Under EFCA, employees and employers would also lose the decision-making ability to negotiate contracts. In what is the most egregious provision in EFCA, a federal bureaucrat with no knowledge of the particular industry would dictate wages, benefits and workplace conditions under a contract that is binding for two years. This mandatory, binding arbitration is different from other forms of arbitration, in which the arbitrator just interprets the contracts agreed upon by both parties. Under EFCA, this government arbitrator would dictate the terms.

This mandatory, binding arbitration violates the rights of workers to vote on contracts and would increase costs and burdens on employers, resulting in massive layoffs and increased unemployment.

Even more troubling, government arbitrators could use mandatory, binding arbitration as a means to force businesses into failing union pension plans -- without their consent --resulting in massive liabilities that would be devastating for workers and employers.

EFCA is nothing more than a political payback for union bosses. Let's face it: any legislation that will allow union bosses to recruit new union members by taking away those same workers rights screams political payback.

A recent Workforce Fairness Institute report even found that passage of EFCA would result in $35 billion in new dues paid to unions over the next ten years. If you are skeptical, consider that the head of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has projected 1.5 million new dues-paying union members every year, for at least ten years, if EFCA is passed. Assuming that union members pay, on average, $425 per year in dues, that number quickly adds up to $35 billion --all going into union coffers.

What this report reveals is that through EFCA, unions would have even more to spend on political activity, giving them greater resources to drive their agenda, reward their political allies, and punish their political opponents.

The end result is that workers who have already seen their pension programs mismanaged stand to lose the most as many will be paying dues to a union whose rules and policies they didn't get to vote on, based on a contract they also didn't get to vote on.

Any legislation that strips the rights of workers and businesses to vote by using a secret ballot or to have a say in contract negotiations is a complete and total non-starter. Our country cannot afford increased unemployment or diminished freedoms; we simply cannot afford EFCA.

Katie Packer is the executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute.