SOTU Watch: Card Check

In President Obama’s State of the Union speech tonight, one thing to watch for is mention of the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) — or lack of the same.

As news reports have noted, the Obama administration has put EFCA, also known as the card check bill, on the back burner in the face of the current economic crisis.  At the same time, some Congressional Democrats from swing districts and states now find themselves stuck in a hard place between EFCA’s growing unpopularity and organized labor’s aggressive stance in favor of it. Considering how much Democratic candidates rely on union support in elections, to incur union bosses’ wrath by not supporting EFCA would be uncomfortable for them indeed.

So the question in labor policy now is: Which will prevail tonight and in the coming months, strident union demands or sober economic reality?

President Obama observed recently that, “If we are losing half a million jobs a month, then there are no jobs to unionize.” His observation is correct, though it is worth adding that foisting unionization on more companies at this time is no way to promote job creation. EFCA would do just that, by empowering union organizers to circumvent secret ballot elections. The President has said that he would sign this bill, if passed by Congress. Given the current state of the economy, the possibility of his not pursuing this would be welcome.

For more on card check, see here and here.