press release

CARD CHECK LEGISLATION INTRODUCED IN CONGRESS
The Employee “Forced” Choice Act Finds Increased Opposition This Year

Washington, D.C., March 10, 2009 – Card check re-emerged today in Congress when the new version of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.  A similar bill was also introduced in the U.S. Senate.  Both bills are strongly opposed by America’s lodging industry and the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

EFCA will cost American workers their jobs and hurt the nation’s economy.  A just-released study by economist Dr. Anne Layne-Farrar found that while under EFCA, union membership would increase along with unemployment.  The study found that for every three percentage points gained in union membership through card checks and mandatory arbitration, the following year’s unemployment rate is predicted to increase by one percentage point and job creation is predicted to decrease by around 1.5 million jobs.

“These bills are not the answer to America’s labor issues,” said Bob Alter, chairman of the Government Affairs Committee of AH&LA and chairman of Sunstone Hotel Investors, Inc.  “And it is certainly not something our struggling economy needs right now.   The Employee Free Choice Act means one thing:  increased job losses.  If Congress is interested in economic growth and job creation, why would they want to pass a bill that will destroy hundreds of thousands jobs each year?”

The Employee Free Choice Act would affix a ‘card check’ process on all American lodging businesses.  A “card check” process tramples the privacy of individual workers who should not have to reveal to anyone how they exercise their right to choose whether to organize with their coworkers in a union.

“Taking away the private ballot in the workplace, while members of Congress praise its use in their own Capitol Hill elections is just the height of hypocrisy,” exclaimed Joseph McInerney, AH&LA president and CEO.  “Our workplace today is a carefully balanced mix of labor laws and decisions stretching back decades.  And federal courts have repeatedly said private ballot elections are the most secure and fair way to determine if employees want union representation.  American workers deserve the same voter protections Congress has given itself.”

“EFCA and card check is clearly losing support in Congress,” said Marlene Colucci, AH&LA executive vice president for public policy.  “I’ve never seen our members more energized and their employees more concerned about an issue than card check and EFCA.  Congress is feeling the pressure from its constituents, who overwhelmingly do not support a bill as extreme as this one.  This decrease in Congressional support shows that the American worker’s message is getting through to enough lawmakers, who increasingly realize they do not want this on their voting record. Today’s introduction of the legislation comes with a price tag.  And that price will ultimately be paid by job losses and a weakened business environment for the U.S. lodging industry.”

If unions get “card check,” a significant number of employers who haven’t worried about union organizing could see large segments of their workforce rapidly unionizing regardless of a company’s labor environment or a state’s right-to-work laws.  Small businesses, which were not attractive targets for union organizers in the past, will see rapid union penetration into their workforce.

“Small hotels will suffer disproportionately if this bill passes,” said Joe Martin, AH&LA chairman and owner of Stillwater Hospitality, which operates two hotels in Oklahoma.  “They have never been subject to intense union organizing pressure, and will face increased costs if their facilities are unionized.  Those increased costs can mean the difference between hiring new workers or cutting their labor costs to break even.”

A poll taken in January 2009 by McLaughlin & Associates found three out of four voters (74%) oppose EFCA. Union households also strongly oppose the EFCA, with 74% opposing the Act.  When given a more detailed description of EFCA, nearly 9 out of 10 voters--86 percent--believe the process should remain private. Even union workers felt strongly that the process should be kept private, as 88% of union workers said they preferred private ballots. 

For more information about the U.S. lodging industry’s concerns on EFCA and card check, visit www.ahla.com/cardcheck.  Prof. Layne-Farrar’s study, the McLaughlin & Associates poll, and other lodging industry-specific information about EFCA, is also available via this Webpage.

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