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AGC Denver event shows how card check hurts non-union workers

Post Time:Mar 31,2009Classify:Industry NewsView:203

The Associated General Contractors of America, Arlington, Va., hosted an event in Denver this week and detailed how the proposed "card check" legislation currently being debated in Washington poses real risks for the nation's union construction workers.

AGC CEO Steve Sandherr explained how provisions in the bill, known as the Employee Free Choice Act, required federal arbitrators to settle all but the briefest of contract negotiations.Having Washington-appointed officials set final contract terms for individual companies would make it harder to maintain collective bargaining, which is a central benefit of unionized construction, he said, according to a March 31 AGC article.

Card check” undermines the common practice of having multiple construction firms agree to regional labor agreements, known as collective bargaining, which is designed to set a level playing field between different firms, Sandherr said in a March 30 AGC release. Since “card check” requires federally-appointed arbitrators to set labor contracts for any time a firm can’t reach one within only 120 days, regions would see multiple, and widely varied contracts based on the whims and decisions of the arbitrators.

Sandherr added that the legislation also would put the pensions of single craft unions at risk. That is because “card check” will make it easier for large multicraft unions to recruit across a variety of skill sets.The resulting loss in pension contributions at the now depleted ranks of the single-craft unions will undermine savings programs for countless hard-working, highly skilled professionals, Sandherr noted, in the release.

Sandherr, who was in Colorado visiting a union construction site for a new hospital just outside Denver, added that the legislation also would hurt non-union construction workers. He said the legislation deprives non-union workers of their right to a private vote before deciding whether to join a union.The bill also deprives non-union construction workers of the ability to negotiate pay levels, work rules and schedules because Washington-appointed officials will do that instead under the legislation.

Fortunately for construction workers in Colorado and nationwide, the state’s two senators have the power to stop “card check” from ever becoming law, Sandherr said.He noted that the association’s 33,000 member companies, including more than 750 in Colorado, were asking both senators to vote against the law and against any efforts to limit debate in the Senate on the legislation, known as a cloture vote, according to the release.

"With the help and support of Colorado’s two senators, unionized construction workers and their non-union colleagues will never have to endure the risks outlined in our new analysis,” Sandherr said in the release.

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