December 27, 2008

Unions, industry spar over vote rules

U.S. businesses are gearing up to do battle with worker groups in a political fight over rules governing how unions can be formed and joined, analysts said.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has indicated it will spend $10 million to defeat a proposal supported by unions and Secretary of Labor-designate Hilda Solis to make it easier for workers to unionize and win contracts with their employers, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

The move to require employers to recognize a union once a majority of workers signed membership cards in what is known as a card-check system is a top priority for labor unions, which contributed $450 million to help get Barack Obama elected president. But it is bitterly opposed by industry groups, who have portrayed the effort as an infringement of workers' privacy rights in union representation votes.

The American public supports the secret ballot, Randy Johnson, a vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told the newspaper. Card checks are subject to abuse.

Labor backers were cheered by Obama's choice of Solis as labor secretary, who has called the card check bill vital legislation.