FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Anti-business, anti-worker bill formally introduced in Congress
HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry and a delegation of more than 70 local chamber of commerce officials and individual business leaders were in Washington, D.C. this week urging Pennsylvania’s elected officials to oppose proposed "card check" union organizing legislation. The highly controversial bill would effectively strip employees of a private ballot in union organizing drives, hand the federal government power to dictate workplace pay and benefits, and force unfair mandates on small businesses.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce fly-in event coincided with the so-called Employee Free Choice Act’s formal introduction in the U.S. Senate and House.
"Pennsylvania’s employers and local chambers are in the nation’s Capitol because they are greatly concerned about the economy and concerned about maintaining their current workforce and operations, and they understand the threat to both if union card check is enacted," said Gene Barr, PA Chamber vice president of government and public affairs. "The unpredictable and inflexible business operating environment that would greet job creators under EFCA could prove too much to handle for many employers. This is something our economy, and the American people, cannot handle."
The legislation also diminishes employees’ freedoms in the workplace.
"The private ballot is a fundamental right we enjoy in America, whether in voting for our political leaders or deciding whether to form a union," Barr said. "The Employee Free Choice Act would effectively take away that right, opening up workers to harassment and intimidation from coworkers, union bosses, supervisors and employers. To argue otherwise is just plain wrong."
Barr said the delegation met one-on-one with many of Pennsylvania’s federal elected officials, including U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, urging lawmakers to see past organized labor’s EFCA smoke screen.
"Union card check and our volatile economy are a dangerous mix," he stressed. "Make no mistake about it, the so-called Employee Free Choice Act is about growing union coffers and organized labor’s power at the expense of average workers and jobs."
A recent study conducted by noted economist Dr. Anne Layne-Farrar found that every 3 percentage points gained in union membership through card checks and mandatory arbitration would result in a 1 percentage point rise in the unemployment rate the following year. The study noted conclusively that the unionization of 1.5 million existing jobs under EFCA in year one would lead to the loss of 600,000 jobs by the following year.
Barr said even union households support the current private ballot process for union organizing.
According to a Citizens for a Democratic Workforce survey, 69 percent of union households oppose EFCA, while 76 percent of union voters say having a federally supervised private ballot election is the best way to protect workers’ rights when organizing.
"We came to Washington not only as businesspeople, but as concerned citizens who ask legislative leaders to reject a proposal that promotes divisiveness at a time when we need to come together as a nation to get through these difficult economic times," Barr said.
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state’s largest broad-based business advocacy association, with its members comprising nearly 50 percent of the private workforce. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of Business.