Tag Archives: card check

Poll Numbers on Card Check for Farmworkers

As safety violations continue, card check still has many opponents

by Brian Leubitz

Despite the deaths and very public injuries of farm workers over the past few years, farm labor is still very difficult to organize.  There are many reasons for this, as you can imagine.  Great distances, language barriers, and immigration issues are just some of those.  In addition, because of these issues, management has great sway over labor.  Management essentially has a thumb on the scale of an election process.

Card check wouldn’t end these issues, but it could go a long way towards making labor relevant in farm work.  Despite Jerry’s veto of card check legislation, the issue won’t go away quickly.  However, the numbers from the recent LA Times/USC poll show that the unions may need to do a bit more work on messaging.

The poll shows that 42% support card check for farm workers, and 45% oppose. Now, those numbers should probably considered somewhat squishy, but not necessarily in the good way.  After being read pro and con statements, support for card check fell to 39%.

Farm work is one of the more obvious positive cases for card check. It makes an unmanageable task possible, but hardly easy.  Farm workers need the right to organize, and card check just levels the playing field somewhat.

Broken News: DiFi Doesn’t Support The Same Thing Today She Didn’t Support Yesterday

If Dianne Feinstein really was backing away from supporting the Employee Free Choice Act, I’d be the first to blast her.  But she never supported it in the 111th Congress to begin with.  She remains the only Democratic member of the California delegation, in the House or Senate, not to co-sponsor the bill.  And she signaled her support for a compromise bill, which has a kind of “early voting” card check where workers mail in their cards to the NLRB, and if 50% return they get a union, three weeks ago.  So some reporter got fooled today by a Chamber of Commerce press release suggesting that DiFi “pulled her support” of the Employee Free Choice Act in a meeting with CoC folks from the Santa Clarita Valley.

Yeah, we get it. You want to break news. But at bare minimum, one Jon Dell should have:

Looked up the meaning of the word “cloture,” which apparently he does not know, since Feinstein’s vote for the bill isn’t needed for its passage

Asked Feinstein for comment instead of taking the word of an organization spending millions of dollars to defeat the bill, and

Done a simple Google search to determine Feinstein’s history with the bill, and discovered that she offered up her own compromise three weeks ago:

[Diane Feinstein’s] proposal would replace the card-check provision, which would allow workers to unionize if a majority signed authorization cards and strip a company’s ability to demand a secret ballot election. “It’s a secret ballot that would be mailed in … just like an absentee ballot. The individual could take it home and mail it in,” Feinstein said. If a majority mailed the ballots to the National Labor Relations Board, the NLRB would recognize the union.

What about that? Did she say anything about her own “compromise” bill? Well, we don’t know, because a bunch of “breathless” delegates from the Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce who know nothing about the history of the bill or Feinstein’s position apparently didn’t ask her about it, they just told their story to an equally incurious reporter who quickly decided that they “broke national news” in a “major turn of events.”

This doesn’t take Feinstein off the hook or anything – she ought to support the perfectly reasonable provisions of the bill as they stand right now.  The California Labor Federation is engaging in a two-day hunger strike in front of her San Francisco office (1 Post Street) to bring attention to DiFi’s position on Employee Free Choice.  But this “breaking news” is, um, broken.

Friday Afternoon Odds And Ends

There are a bunch of things that I wanted to post about that I might as well highlight in one post, kind of like when Asia recruited members of Yes, King Crimson, and Uriah Heep to create a “supergroup”:

• BeDevine notes that yet another gender-neutral marriage bill has passed the Legislature, and once again Arnold Schwarzenegger has vowed to veto it because “the people have already spoken on that issue.”  Apparently the people don’t vote for their own representatives in the state legislature.  And at what point does the statute of limitations run out on referring to a ballot measure from 2000?

• Senator Loewenthal has pulled back the container fee bill that would have charged importers a $30 fee on each cargo container to go towards fighting pollution at the ports.  This will go into negotiation and probably be passed in some form in 2008.  Hopefully it’ll be a form that will still have some teeth.

• Dan Weintraub makes the fallacious argument that the United Farm Workers are somehow betraying their principles by asking for the ability to form a union after a majority of employees sign cards endorsing it.  He thinks that there’s no intimidation in a secret ballot election, apparently ignoring decades of union busting, threats, and workplace closures that have arisen from attempts to unionize.

• As mentioned in the Quickies, the CA Hospital Association has agreed to a tax in themselves… sort of.  In exchange, they would receive money back to them based on how many poor people they treat.  Most hospitals would actually make money on the deal.  It’s also hard to see how this would do anything to fix our state’s strained emergency rooms, which presumably is where these poor people would be encouraged to go for treatment.

• Also in the Quickies is some good news on the enviroment, as new CARB chief Mary Nichols has set some pretty strong targets for emissions cuts.  They’re first steps but they presage positive developments in the future.

• Finally, the Teamsters waged a successful protest at the California-Mexico border against the Bush Administration effort to allow 100 Mexican trucking companies to deliver goods anywhere in the United States.  This will not only damage our environment and public safety by opening up the roads to unsafe Mexican trucks, it undermines American job security for one of the few good union industries left to our working class.  The goal is to marginalize unionized truckers, pure and simple.  Matt Stoller thinks this could be the next “Dubai ports deal” if the word gets out about it.