Business leaders oppose employee free choice act

By Laurie Bernstein - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Unions say it will bring more rights for workers wanting to organize, while companies say it could put them out of business.

The Employee Free Choice Act, one of President Obama's campaign promises, is splitting both Congress and the country right down the middle.

The legislation, if passed, would put an end to secret ballots conducted by businesses whose workers want to unionize.

Harold Bryant, Vice President of Governmental Affairs for the Columbus Chamber of Commerce says if unions move towards making votes public through card checks, intimidation could occur and workers may feel they are forced to vote to unionize, even though they don't want to.

"It's the basic principle of American Democracy, you vote in secret." said Bryant.

Union leaders, though, say businesses have been intimidating workers for years, and the legislation will let workers decide whether to vote in secret ballot or by public check cards.

The difference is that the vote would be administered by the workers, not the company.

"These companies do everything they can to keep people from joining unions. It happens everyday. We say it should be up to the workers to do secret ballot or card checks," said Greg England of the United Steel Workers Union.

In this economy, leaders at the Columbus Chamber of Commerce are also worried about the demands of unions on small companies.

Small businesses may have to close their doors if their workers unionize and demand more pay and better benefits, simply unable to afford anything.

"It's anti-business. It applies all the way down to small businesses, places struggling to keep their doors open. If they had union activity, what would happen to them?" said Bryant.

The issues is split along party lines, with Democrats for the bill and Republicans against it.

The big fight will be in the Senate, if Democrats can persuade enough Republicans to sign onto the legislation, so it can be sent to President Obama.

Count on News Leader Nine to keep you updated.