HAS THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY BOXED ITSELF INTO A CORNER ON LABOR LAW?

I've written often on the strategic mistake the unions made uniting behind the specific solution of card check rather than the general problem of unfair barriers to workers who want to organize. But I'm starting to wonder if the business community hasn't made the same mistake in reverse. They've done a damn good job burying card check. But they haven't convinced anyone that unfair elections aren't a problem.

Last week, a massive coalition of business groups sent a "Dear Senator" letter that stated, "let us be clear and frank on this matter; there can be no acceptable 'compromise' on any issue of labor law reform due to the very real threat posed by EFCA." Huh. "That hardly sounds like bargaining in good faith," sighed the Washington Post. And the increasing perception of employer stubbornness is lending life to compromise proposals. One such idea is being floated by Arlen Specter, who desperately wants SEIU's help in his next election. He's backing a set of fixes that would speed elections -- the vote would come no more than three weeks after a request is filed -- and guarantee organizers "equal time under identical circumstances" to make their pitch to employees. So if management holds a captive audience meeting, then they have to give organizers the same opportunity.

The corporate community opposes this, too. But having predicated their assault on a principled belief in "workplace democracy," it's extremely hard for them to credibly oppose reforms that would help bring democracy to the workplace. Just as the unions chose poor ground when they centered their fight around card check, the business community has made a bad decision centering their counterattack around workplace democracy.

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