03.10.09

Enzi: Senate Wasting Time on Card Check's Political Payback as Struggling Families Need New Knowledge, Skills

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) Ranking Member of the SenateHealth, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today scolded Senate leaders forwasting time on passing a political payback bill such as Card Check just to benefit big labor,while ignoring programs to develop new knowledge and skills that would help the nation’sbeleaguered middle class cope, compete, and remain on the job in today’s turbulent economy.

“The card check bill is not about the economy, and it is not about restoring the middleclass. Card Check is all about giving a gift to labor bosses at the expense of both the economyand the middle class,” Enzi said prior a hearing today, “Rebuilding Economic Security:Empowering Workers to Restore the Middle Class.”

“The worldwide economic backslide of thepast year has brought fear and anxiety to nearly every American home, and Card Check is noremedy for families struggling improve their lives.” Card Check, the so-called “Employee Free Choice Act,” would actually strip away anemployee’s opportunity to vote on whether or not to unionize through a secret ballot election. Itwould also create an unworkable system of mandatory interest arbitration that would givegovernment bureaucrats almost total control over individual workplaces, and allow third partiesto dictate the provisions of labor contracts between businesses and their employees. Up to600,000 American workers may lose their jobs next year if the bill becomes law, according to areport [http://ssrn.com/abstract=1353305] prepared by Dr. Anne Layne-Farrar, a noted, nonpartisaneconomist with the firm LECG Consulting. The study also finds that if Card Check resulted in a 3 percent increase in unionization,1.6 million workers would lose their jobs or not be able to find new employment. If, asproponents of the bill claim, Card Check were to result in a 10 percent rise in union membership,another 3.5 percent increase in the unemployment rate, or the loss of up to 5.4 million jobs, couldbe the result.

“This transparent payback to union bosses would obviously come at a terrible price to theUS economy and US workers.” Enzi said. Enzi called for the Senate to re-focus its work on real programs to improve the nation’sjob training system by reauthorizing the “Workforce Investment Act” – legislation that will helpstates and local communities connect local training to local jobs while allowing them to targetresources to populations in highest need of services and training. Although the HELPCommittee unanimously approved a WIA bill and the full Senate passed it twice, WIA is nowsix years overdue for reauthorization. That same bipartisan WIA reauthorization, which wasnegotiated by Enzi, would help about 900,000 people a year launch new career paths in highgrowth, high wage, high demand jobs. Education and training yields higher incomes, greater job satisfaction and greatereconomic mobility, Enzi emphad.

“Whether it’s a masters degree, an apprenticeship, or along distance learning certificate, life-long access to learning opportunities is a key part ofbecoming and remaining economically secure,” he said. In 1950 the Department of Laborcategorized 80 percent of the nation’s jobs as “unskilled.” Today, DOL categorizes over 80percent of all jobs as “skilled.” By some estimates, 4 out of every 5 new jobs being created willrequire some education beyond high school.

“The transparent motives behind Card Check are clear when you consider that unionsalready win well over half of the secret ballot certification elections in which they participate. Infact, in the first half of last year, unions won 66.8 percent of secret ballot elections conducted bythe National Labor Relations Board – the highest win rate ever recorded,” Enzi said. “Yetproponents of this legislation claim that record high win rates are not enough.”

###

Press Contact

Craig Orfield (202) 224-6770