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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

How to get EFCA passed

This post is going to be extraordinarily confused even for me.

Update: However, a well argued version of this post has been written by Ezra Klein
concluding line "Crime should not be tolerated. Not even when it's against labor unions."

The trigger was the strange fact that health insurance companies are lobbying for universal health insurance(the H. Clinton, Edwards, Baucus approach not that of the Obama campaign). I suspect Obama was lucky, but his proposal, designed to support health care reform and help him win the presidencey, turns out to be an excellent bargaining position for scaring health insurance companies. The Obama (campaign) plan offers only nice things to consumers. The problem is that it will create a huge free rider problem which could bankrupt the health insurance companies. The prospect scares them so much that thjey might leave Harold and Louise in undisturbed retirement.

So can this approach be applied to other problems ? The EFCA would allow workers to recognise a union as their exclusive bargaining agent by petition basically. The current system requires a vote scheduled in effect by the company and normally preceded by illegal but effective efforts to intimidate workers. EFCA is very controversial. It might be less controversial if the alternative really scared managers.

So what a good threat ? It doesn't have to be reasonable policy. It might be a bluff really like the campaigns health care proposal. So I thought and thought and came up with a really crazy idea

How about enforcing the existing law ? How about taking depositions under oath from managers who have obviously broken it, reminding them that perjury is a felony before they sign ?

The fact is that there is a law which is almost always violated. This makes actually applying the law seem like a policy innovation and a radical one at that.

So thinking about the possibility of actually enforcing laws, I notice that the routine violation of the Wagner act (with the effective permission of the National Labor Relations Board which is slowww and imposes absurdly mild penalties) is just one example of the Bush administrations utter contempt for the law.

The SEC is an even more extreme example. It's policy was that regulations were a problem so the SEC should help corporations free themselves from them. Harvey Pitt was a classic case of a fox guarding the chicken coop.

I personally associate the crimes committed by the Bush administration with their support of private lawbreaking.

I'd say the threat is to treat violations of the Wagner act as uhm violations of the law which lead to investigations in which people are sworn in and in which the cover up can be much more severely punished than the crime illegal act.

update: Of course Obama is way ahead of me on this

Within days of taking office Jan. 20, Obama signed three orders to bolster unions and workers' rights. The first will prevent taxpayer funds from being used to reimburse federal contractors who spend money to impede workers from organizing.

A second requires federal contractors to inform employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act, and third was aimed at ensuring that qualified workers kept their jobs even when a federal contract changed hands.

oh yeah executive orders about federal contracts, like, you know the introduction of affirmative action (by Johnson's executive order not the 64 civil rights act)

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