Labor and Public Employees Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6534

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING LABOR UNION AUTHORIZATION CARD CHECKS.

Vote Date:

3/12/2009

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute Change of Reference to Planning and Development

PH Date:

3/3/2009

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

AFL-CIO

REASONS FOR BILL:

The purpose of this bill is to create a union card signing authorization process under the State Board of Labor Relations.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

This bill permits a union of public employees to be recognized as the exclusive representative of an employee unit when a majority of the employees sign union authorization cards. The cards must indicate a preference for the union and must be printed in a language understood by the employee who signs it. The bill sets up the same authorization procedure in the separate collective bargaining laws for state employees and municipal employees.

The card authorization process is triggered when (1) a petition for unionization is filed with the state labor relations board, (2) there is a question or controversy regarding the union representation, and (3) there is only one union seeking the designation.

When these conditions are met, the labor board designates an agent to investigate the petition and determine the validity of the authorization cards. The agent reports his or her findings to the board. The board must provide the parties with the opportunity to file briefs on the issues and it must fully consider such briefs. After a hearing, the board will certify the union authorization or order other suitable method to determine the question of union representation.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

None submitted.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Connecticut AFL-CIO supports this bill because workers should have a right to join a union if they want to. Studies show that 70% of workers would join a union if they could. They believe that when workers decide to form a union in the private sector, corporations spend billions of dollars fighting their efforts. This bill would put an end to that practice.

Paul Rapanault of the Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association of Connecticut supports this bill because he feels that card-check procedures are the most effective way to determine the wishes of a majority of employees. He feels that the secret ballot process doesn't work because management holds the power over employees to deprive them of their livelihood and to control pay, hours, and working conditions.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

The Connecticut Association of Not-for-profit Providers for the Aging opposes this bill because employees should have the opportunity to keep private their decision whether or not to be represented by a union. They believe the card check process can be intimidating to workers, and removes the employer from the process.

Connecticut Water opposes this bill because in their experience with unions, a number of employees indicated they felt pressured to sign the cards, and were grateful to have had the opportunity to vote by secret ballot. They did not feel they were given enough information at the time they were asked to sign the cards to make a decision. They also felt uncomfortable when declining to sign the cards.

Connecticut Water Works Association opposes this bill because they feel that under this process, workers are asked to sign union cards in the presence of a union organizer or member and may feel intimidated and pressured to sign the card. They feel the secret ballot is a more democratic process in which to choose a union.

John Yusza, Jr. of Connecticut Alarm & Systems Integrators Association opposes this bill because he feels the secret ballot system currently in place offers employees a chance to cast votes without coercion or intimidation by union organizers or employers. He believes card checks give labor organizations an advantage in the workplace, without government safeguards for employees and employers.

Robert Macca of Connecticut Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Contractors Association opposes this bill because employees deserve the protections of a secret ballot election. They should not have to feel pressured to sign union cards. This bill is unfriendly towards business.

Robin Wilson of the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce opposes this bill because in the absence of an election, there is no protection against intimidation and pressuring. It doesn't leave the employee adequate time to gather information and it would take jurisdiction for verification away from the National Labor Relations Board and give it to the State Labor Relations Board.

The Connecticut Hospital Association opposes this bill because they feel that the card check system does not adequately protect employees' right to choose or reject union representation freely and without coercion. They feel that people will sign the cards not because they want to, but to avoid offending the person asking. They also feel it is wrong and unfair to deprive employers the right to communicate with their employees. It is an anti-business message that would lead to loss of jobs.

The Connecticut Restaurant Association opposes this bill because when a union tries to organize a workplace, employees sometimes face intimidation and pressure about how they should vote. They feel this bill takes away the rights that federally protected, democratic elections provide. It also takes away employee privacy.

Denise Carter of ERCCA opposes this bill because it would undermine the authority of the National Labor Relations Board to prohibit unfair labor practices.

Kia Murrell of CBIA opposes this bill because once a union card election has begun, employers have limited ability to question its validity or protect their employees from inappropriate pressuring without overt evidence of illegal coercion. This bill would preempt the National Labor Relations Act. It would lead employees to sign union cards without all of the information needed to make an informed decision.

Lisa Hutner of IEC opposes this bill because it denies the employee the right to vote in a secret ballot election supervised by the NLRB. It would discourage companies from expanding or relocating in Connecticut.

Andy Markowski of NFIB opposes this bill because it would deny employers a voice in the face of a targeted union campaign. It would expose employees to pressure and bullying.

Reported by: Tricia Chadwick

Date: 3/13/2009