Today’s AP reports that Starbucks, Whole Foods and Costco have announced that they intend to submit alternatives to EFCA for widespread consideration.  The report (via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune) states:

…[T]he companies on Saturday announced an ad hoc committee aimed at pushing through alternatives. Their proposals will seek to maintain management’s right to demand a secret ballot election and would leave out binding arbitration.

The three retailers want to toughen penalties for companies that retaliate against workers before union elections, while at the same time stiffen penalties for union violations.

"We believe in and trust our employees, which is neither anti-union nor pro-status quo," said James Sinegal of Costco. He said the group’s proposals "will ensure a fair opportunity for workers to make an informed choice, with a secret ballot, whether they want a union or whether they wish to retain non-union status."

Lest anyone presume that these employers are casually throwing these ideas out there, the report continues, noting that "longtime Democratic operative," lawyer Lanny Davis has been retained by the retailers to help promote their efforts, and: 

Davis said he had discussed the three major retailers’ broad principles with the staffs of almost two dozen Democratic and Republican senators. He said most were "positive about our third-way approach."

"I’m proud to call myself a pro-labor liberal Democrat who believes that reforms are needed to provide a level playing field for both labor and management, but not at the expense of a guaranteed option for a secret ballot by both workers and management and certainly not at the expense of preserving the historic process of private, voluntary collective bargaining," Davis said.