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April 29, 2009

WASHINGTON – Leading a group of top-level Florida business executives, Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) President and CEO Barney Bishop III met with U. S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s (D) office late yesterday to convey deep concerns over the proposed “card check” legislation and call for its withdrawal. Previously meeting with Sen. Nelson on this same issue just three weeks ago, the group visited his office for the second time this month to further demonstrate the business community’s aversion to this legislation. Co-sponsored by Sen. Nelson, the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) would jeopardize employee privacy rights by doing away with important protections contained in the National Labor Relations Act.

Proposed at the behest of national and state labor unions, the “card check” legislation would ultimately revoke employees’ rights to private-ballot elections.  While meeting with the Senator’s office, Bishop and other AIF members addressed the dire consequences of this legislation.  If passed at the federal level, the EFCA would:

  • Take away an employee’s right to a federally-supervised, secret ballot when deciding whether or not to join a union. It would replace the secret ballot with a “card check” system that allows a union to organize if a majority of employees simply sign a card. Under this system, employees’ signatures are made public to their employer, union organizers and co-workers.
  • Increase the potential for intimidation, coercion and harassment by allowing unions the opportunity to “persuade” a simple majority of workers into joining their organization.
  • Eliminate an individual worker’s ability to independently decide whether to join a union, a critical decision that is currently allowed in a private voting booth.
  • Require employers to negotiate critical terms of a union contract in a very limited amount of time if no bargaining agreement is reached, which could ultimately hurt both businesses and employees.
  • Forces binding arbitration if an agreement is not reached within 30 days, and the parties are stuck with a contract that cannot be changed for two years.

“Disregarding the right to a secret ballot, forced arbitration and increased federal mediation in Florida workplace decisions is not what the business community would expect of our senior Senator,” Bishop said. “If the Senator moves for a cloture, or quick passage, of this legislation, we want to make sure he is aware that it will negatively impact every business in Florida with more than 10 employees at a time when they have enough to worry about with the economy being what it is today.  This is simply an attempt by the unions to reverse years of declining membership at the expense of the cherished free enterprise system.”   

Ultimately, the “card check” legislation would pave the way for union-backed efforts to do away with Florida’s status as a Right to Work state.  Part of the Florida Constitution for decades, the Right to Work status allows employees to choose if they want to join an industry trade or labor union.

AIF is working in conjunction with its national partner, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), on this effort.  According to a study conducted by the NAM and the Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC), Sen. Nelson’s NAM/BIPAC voting record for pro-business legislation is currently at 0 percent while his record in the first session of the 110th Congress was a mere 13 percent.

“We appreciate willingness of Sen. Nelson’s office to meet with us and appreciate this opportunity to let him know that there is no desire for compromise with this legislation,” continued Bishop. “The decisions made on Capitol Hill are closely watched here in Florida and the business community does not support this action in any shape or form. Bottom line is this cannot be allowed to pass into law.”

The group also met today with Sen. Mel Martinez (R) who opposes the “card check” legislation. 

For more information about the proposed legislation and the negative impacts it will have on Florida business, visit www.flaprosperityproject.com