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April 23, 2014

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Labor v. Business over elections

Big business is taking on big labor, via The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder.

Republican pollster John McLaughlin is touting the results of a survey he conducted for a pro-business group, saying support for so-called "card check" legislation among Democratic candidates could hurt them in the fall.

At issue is the Employee Free Choice Act, labor's top priority in Congress. The bill would make it easier for workers to organize, and have wide-reaching implications for the labor movement -- extending its reach

into the fervently anti-union service sector, typified by employers like Wal-Mart.

Specifically, the bill would allow workers to sign a card signifying their preference for a union instead of voting in a secret-ballot election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. Labor advocates say

companies use the run-up to an election to intimidate workers, by, among other things, holding captive meetings with employees. Big business says campaigning against the union is federally-protected free speech.

For the history of the debate, check out this piece we did last year.

In the survey, more than seven in ten voters in Maine, Minnesota and Colorado favored the secret-ballot election and said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who supports legislation "to take away a worker's right to have a federally-supervised secret and private ballot election."

But, as Ambinder points out, that and other language in the questionnaire is more than a little loaded.

One need look no further than the organizing drive the stagehands union in Las Vegas ran last year at three Boyd Gaming casinos to see how the process plays out -- in favor of employers.

No question, the language game favors big business and anti-union Republican legislators. Democrats will need an artful response as the campaign over this key piece of legislation intensifies. Two words likely to be found on many of their lips: Culinary Union.

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