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EFCA- The Final Word?

Joe McInerney, President/CEO, American Hotel & Lodging Association, responds to criticism on the organization’s stance against the Employee Free Choice Act.

Friday, May 01, 2009
Joseph A McInerney - CHA
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Dear Editor:

Thank you for your indulgence in allowing me to once again respond to Stanley Turkel in his reply to my rebuttal of his defense (“Employee Free Choice Act - As American as Apple Pie? Part 3”, April 17) of the indefensible Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

Let me state once again that neither the hotel industry nor I are against unions. We are against EFCA, which is an important distinction. EFCA is a direct assault against the rights of every American worker.

We are also against introducing into our industry and other American businesses one of the largest contributing factors in the demise of General Motors and Chrysler: an inability to adjust a company’s labor needs to market conditions.

Mr. Turkel once again refuses to acknowledge the fact that EFCA will eliminate a worker’s right to a private ballot election. He can’t deny it—it’s written into the law, printed in black and white. Section 2(a) of H.R. 1409 specifically states and I quote it in full once again, unlike Mr. Turkel’s selective editing of the law:

“If the Board finds that a majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for bargaining has signed valid authorizations designating the individual or labor organization specified in the petition as their bargaining representative and that no other individual or labor organization is currently certified or recognized as the exclusive representative of any of the employees in the unit, the Board shall not direct an election but shall certify the individual or labor organization as the representative…”

This section makes it perfectly clear to anyone who can read that the secret ballot option is not available. “The Board shall not direct an election” means the National Labor Relations Board shall not direct an election. Most people easily understand this point.

I invite readers to click on this link to view the actual text of the bill as posted on Congress’ own legislative Website, so they can read it for themselves: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:h1409:

Mr. Turkel is making this claim because union organizers can theoretically stop collecting signed cards voluntarily after they have collected cards from 30% of workers but before they reach a majority. In that highly unlikely case, a secret ballot election may still be a possibility, but in the real world it would never occur. Union organizers will always work to obtain a majority of cards to ensure they can unionize the targeted workforce. In fact, this is the reason violence and intimidation increase where card check is allowed, as noted in former union organizer Jen Jason’s 2007 Congressional testimony, which can be read online via this link: http://republicans.edlabor.house.gov/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=58.

Union organizers are specifically directed to collect cards from 60 to 70 percent of workers and openly declare that that they do not go to an election without a supermajority of cards. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) states in its own manuals that: “...[T]he rule of thumb in the SEIU is that it's unwise to file for an election when fewer than 70 percent of the workforce has signed interest cards.”

Nothing in EFCA gives employees any control over what organizing methods unions use. That decision is made only by union organizers. And organized labor’s preference has always been for card-check instead of worker elections, making it clear to anyone who can read that EFCA’s legislative tricks are directed towards eliminate secret ballot elections.

Mr. Turkel’s portrayal of “mediation” in EFCA is equally suspect. “Mediation is a thoughtful technique to bring two opposing sides together,” he stated in his rebuttal of my earlier letter. EFCA does not include true mediation, where two sides are able to sit down and over discussion find a common outcome that benefits both parties.

If after 120 days of negotiations an employer and a union do not agree to a workplace contract, the government will impose one. A political appointee will be assigned who does not understand our business or have our business model in mind. Unions will delay any negotiations because they know they can get a better deal with a labor bureaucrat if the talks end up in mandatory binding arbitration. And once that bureaucrat makes a decision, the employer would have no ability to appeal the contract and the workers would have no ability to approve or disapprove it.

This is a significant departure from private-sector contract law, the same kind of legal construction that presently governs the hotel franchise agreements that Mr. Turkel references in his editorial. Those private companies agreed to binding arbitration—they did not have it forced upon them by federal law, as would be the case under EFCA. Mr. Turkel’s arguments may hold water when presented to an uninformed jury, but they won’t work here, not when the informational power of the Internet is open to all.

Mr. Turkel and I can go back and forth on this, but what is more important is that our associates and you, the reader, discover what the “truth” is. I think our coalition’s Website (www.MyPrivateBallot.com) and AH&LA’s Website (www.ahla.com/cardcheck) do an excellent job presenting the facts about EFCA and are good places for anyone in the hotel industry to start. With a little time and very little effort, Hotel Interactive’s readers can find a wealth of other Websites to read both sides of this issue and make up their own mind about EFCA.

We trust that your readers will act in their best interest and fight to keep the right to a secret ballot, unlike Mr. Turkel, who seems to think that a law that takes away that basic human right is something to be desired in an American workplace.

Sincerely yours,

Joseph A. McInerney CHA
President/CEO
American Hotel & Lodging Association
Washington, D.C.

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Joseph McInerney CHA    Joseph A McInerney - CHA
American Hotel & Lodging Association
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