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Sen. Sherrod Brown predicts card check bill rewrite

(The following story by Sabrina Eaton appeared on the Plain Dealer website on April 22, 2009.)

CLEVELAND — Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown expects legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize will undergo a major rewrite before the U.S. Senate considers it this year.

The current draft of the Employee Free Choice Act would allow unions to be recognized if a majority of workers sign union cards, and would remove employers' current right to demand that workers instead hold a secret-ballot election to ratify a union.

Unions say the bill is needed because current secret-ballot elections allow anti-union companies to bully and propagandize workers. Business owners argue the proposed change would enable harassment by unions.

Although Brown backs the legislation in its current form, he says it won't get enough votes for passage in the Senate now that former backers including Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter have withdrawn their support.

He said he expects a compromise will be reached to continue the secret-ballot elections, but require them to be conducted swiftly and handled in a way that doesn't inordinately favor businesses.

"There are discussions going on now with Republicans and Democrats who were not supportive of the bill in its original form," Brown told The Plain Dealer after addressing a forum on the issue organized by the pro-union "Jobs with Justice."

He said the Senate wants to tackle the legislation because "fair minded people in both parties understand this system has not worked well."

"It has not been fair to workers," he continued. "Large numbers of people in this country want to join a union but have not been able to because of the way the system is rigged. A strong majority of Senate and House want to make the rules fairer and there are a lot of ways to do that."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

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