In today’s New York Times, labor reporter Steven Greenhouse has a piece compiling comment from various recent interviews with prominent American labor leaders on the status of the Employee Free Choice Act.
From a talk with AFL-CIO President John Sweeney:
In an interview, John J. Sweeney, the federation’s president, said he would accept a fast election campaign instead of card check because it would meet his goal of minimizing management interference during organizing drives.
Mr. Sweeney said he “could live with” fast or snap elections “as long as there is a fair process that protects workers against anti-union intimidation by employers and eliminates the threats to workers.”
Sweeney continued to state that he might find a secret ballot election held five to ten days after a petition an acceptable alternative:
“If modifying that in some way or another is going to bring some more votes for the bill, I think that’s worth it,” Mr. Sweeney said.
His expected successor, Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka was less emphatic about the specific alternative proposal, but…
…said the A.F.L.-C.I.O. wanted to make sure that any legislation contained three components: a process in which workers were free of intimidation; greater penalties against employers that break the law during organizing drives, for instance by firing outspoken union supporters; and binding arbitration to prevent employers from indefinitely dragging out negotiations without ever reaching a contract.
Finally, union lobbyist David Bonior of American Rights At Work echoed Mr. Sweeney’s remarks:
“The first preference for everybody in labor is the original bill,” he said. “And if we preserve the principles of the original bill and there are some changes — and if we can get 80 to 90 percent of what we started with — I think people would move forward on that.”
Perhaps the most interesting part of the piece involves the issue of the effort’s timing:
Mr. Sweeney said President Obama had assured labor that as soon as health care legislation was passed — if it was passed — he would work with labor and the Democrats to pass the pro-union legislation, known as the Employee Free Choice Act.
Mr. Sweeney voiced optimism that the bill would pass.
“It’s going to be this year,” he said.