Labor battle looms in Congress

Will a union-friendly Congress hurt small business?

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)

afl_cio_laborunions.03.jpg

(Fortune Small Business) -- During the past 20 years, Bob Cook's employees have twice considered forming a union. Cook, who owns Cook Paper Recycling in Kansas City, Mo., says union organizers invited his workers to a tavern both times. Over free beers, the employees enthusiastically signed union cards, but when it came time for the secret ballot - a second step that employers can insist on - they voted the idea down.

"The secret ballot is essential," says Cook. "It removes fear of intimidation."

That second step may disappear this year, leaving business owners more vulnerable to unionization and the higher labor costs that go with it. The Employee Free Choice Act, which is headed for Congress, would automatically grant union certification once a majority of employees have signed union cards. It would also stiffen penalties for employers who discriminate against union members and organizers, and mandate binding arbitration when a collective bargaining agreement cannot be reached within 120 days. The bill died in the Senate two years ago but is expected to pass this time around.

Critics call the act a bailout for unions, whose private sector membership has declined from 11.2% in 1993 to 7.5% today. Brad Close, public policy director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), says many of his members are outraged.

"A lot of them are struggling to stay in business," he says. "This bill threatens their survival."

Some entrepreneurs argue that the law would mainly affect large corporations. John Rose, a former NFIB member who recently shuttered his bakery in Santa Rosa, Calif., points out that the bill doesn't supersede the existing rules of the National Labor Relations Board, which certifies unions only at businesses with more than $500,000 in retail revenues.

"Mom-and-pops have very little union activity," he says. "When I owned my bakery, I was in my kitchen, baking bread with my employees. I knew if they were dissatisfied, and I responded."  To top of page

To write a note to the editor about this article, click here.




QMy dream is to launch my own business someday. Now that it's time to choose a major, I'm debating if I should major in entrepreneurial studies or major in engineering to acquire a set of skills first. Is majoring in entrepreneurship a good choice? More
Get Answer
- Spate, Orange, Calif.

More Galleries
My part-time job is a dead end, but it's all I can find CNNMoney profiles 4 of America's 7 million part-time workers unable to find full-time jobs. More
Cool cars from the LA Auto Show There are some of the standout vehicles on display this year at the Los Angeles Auto Show. More
American Dream homes: Prices in 10 cities How much does the American Dream home cost? From $2 million in Los Altos, Calif., to $65,000 in Cleveland, here's what you'll pay for a 4-bedroom, 2-bath house, according to Coldwell Banker's annual survey. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.