retail news in context, analysis with attitude

As unions and management prepare to face off over the Employee Free Choice Act, pro-labor legislation that has been introduced in the US Senate and House of Representatives, three of the nation’s more prominent retailers reportedly are supporting a compromise that could help resolve differences over the proposal.

According to some reports, Costco, Starbucks and Whole Foods are proposing that a compromise bill would allow unions to organize in a workplace if 70 percent of employees sign union-authorization cards; the current bill, as written, only requires 50 percent of the employees to sign authorization cards.

Bloomberg News reports that “under the alternative being sought by the three companies, management could demand a secret-ballot election, and a provision of the original bill requiring binding arbitration for union contracts would be dropped. Penalties would be increased for companies that take action against workers before union elections and refuse to participate in collective bargaining. The alternative would also set a fixed period in which a union election must be held, and would provide unions with the same access to meet with workers as employers get before an organizing vote.”

The Wall Street Journal notes that the Obama administration, while supporting the existing bill in concept, has said that it is open to a compromise measure. It is not known whether the White House was involved in crafting the proposal made by the three retailers.

The Bloomberg story suggests that neither labor nor management seems terribly enthusiastic about the compromise proposal.

KC's View:
It sounds like a reasonable compromise to me. But reasonable compromise is probably not what is being sought by the negotiators on both sides of aisle.

I’ll repeat what I’ve said before. A mandated secret ballot election needs to be part of whatever labor reforms are instituted by Congress and the Obama administration.