newsrackblog.com

a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

EFCA

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 13th March 2009

…a.k.a. the Employee Free Choice Act

Resource pages

Legislative status

News

Opinions

Posted in | No Comments »

Van Hollen cosponsors EFCA

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 13th March 2009

One million strong for the Employee Free Choice ActFrom the AFL-CIO:

This week, 223 representatives signed on as co-sponsors of the Employee Free Choice Act. They are leading the way in the fight to restore workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain for a better life. It is imperative that we thank these representatives for siding with working families instead of Big Business lobbyists.

Thank you, Representative Van Hollen. As one of the cosponsors listed in the preamble of the act itself, and as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, I hope he’ll continue to lead the charge for this important legislation in the days and weeks ahead.

As is well known, the bill seeks to “amend the National Labor Relations Act to establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and for other purposes.”

The means for that efficient system is the so-called “card check” method of organizing a union, in which the National Labor Relations Board is directed to immediately certify a union as the representative for workers when “a majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for bargaining has signed valid authorizations designating the individual or labor organization specified in the petition as their bargaining representative” when the workers are not already represented.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Post | No Comments »

Pro-EFCA mischief

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 26th September 2008

Make no mistake — whatever the header to this e-mail may imply, I’m writing to *support* the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), better known as “Card Check” legislation. Please vote “YES” on this sensible, well designed legislation.

Workers deserve a fair workplace, which includes the right to vote “yes” or “no” on unionization by secret ballot — or the right to organize by other means when corporate anti-union policies make it necessary. Card Check legislation *enhances* worker’s rights by giving them another way to organize.  Opponents cite potential fears of workers under card check, but studies show workers actually feel less coerced by co-workers in “majority signup” situations than in secret ballot ones.

Americans cherish the secret ballot in *fair* elections. But as you know, all too often elections deciding unionization are anything but fair; companies can propagandize their employees at will, and often threaten them with workplace shutdowns or other punitive measures. Imagine if a mayor could really threaten moving the city if he lost the election!  Would that be a fair election?  Of course not!

As EFCA opponents like to say, the secret ballot is a cornerstone of our democracy. But what they *don’t* like to say is that card check does nothing to change that, since at any time, if 30 percent of the workers want an election, they can have one. (And once they have a union, workers also vote to elect their union representatives.)

I urge you to *support Card Check legislation*, which will even the playing field between unorganized workers and their company bosses.  And more unionized workers means a more prosperous America. I look forward to hearing where you stand on this important matter. Thank you!  God bless America!

Substitute this message to your Senators and Representative for the anti-EFCA boilerplate text here — pass it on!

For more information about EFCA, click here (my blog post), here (AFL-CIO) or here (Americans Rights at Work).

Posted in Post | No Comments »

Off to Maine for a week

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 2nd August 2008

Blogging will be sparse at best. Meanwhile some items worth paying attention to:

Vital unresolved anthrax questions and ABC News (Glenn Greenwald) — Greenwald makes a pretty good case that the government’s case against Bruce Ivins (the Fort Detrick germ lab scientist who committed suicide), the m.o. of the anthrax terrorist, and ABC News’s false insistence at the time that lab results pointed to Iraq all add up to a case that urgently requires Congressional investigation. Whoever gave ABC the false “bentonite additive” story has a lot to answer for — very arguably the Iraq war.

Wal-Mart mobilizing against EFCA, pressuring “associates” on how to vote — That’s illegal, and that’s arguably what they’re doing by raising Obama’s support for the Employee Free Choice Act in in-store meetings. The charge is based on a Wall Street Journal article “Wal-Mart Warns of Democratic Win“:

The Wal-Mart human-resources managers who run the meetings don’t specifically tell attendees how to vote in November’s election, but make it clear that voting for Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama would be tantamount to inviting unions in, according to Wal-Mart employees who attended gatherings in Maryland, Missouri and other states.

The main link leads to “Americans Rights At Work,” where you can add your name to a petition urging the FEC to investigate Wal-Mart for potential election law violations.

Last and definitely not least, the ACLU is sounding the alarm about a jaw-dropping legislative initiative by Bush and Attorney General Mukasey:

After years of litigation, the Supreme Court recently ruled in Boumediene v. Bush that detainees held at Guantánamo have a right to challenge their detention through habeas corpus — the ancient freedom that protects people from being thrown in prison illegally, with no help, no end in sight and no due process. Habeas proceedings could allow detainees to bring up the fact that the evidence that the government has against them came from hearsay, or even torture and abuse. Courts could also release people who are detained indefinitely without charge. Attorney General Michael Mukasey wants to make sure neither of these things happen. That’s why he’s calling on Congress to authorize indefinite detention through a new declaration of armed conflict. He is also proposing that Congress subvert the right of habeas corpus with a new scheme to hide the Bush administration’s past wrongdoing — an action that would undermine the constitutional guarantee of due process and conceal systemic torture and abuse of detainees.

More here. Join the ACLU petition to your Representative and Senators here urging them to oppose this misbegotten idea. Thanks to Mick Arran and the Talking Dog for sounding the alarm as well. As Mick says: “Please let’s not give them this one.”

Posted in Post | No Comments »

WashingtonPostUnfair.com

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 5th February 2008

Looks Like Greed is in Style at the Washington Post
washingtonpostunfair.com. Click here
to see the other ads, and radio and TV spots.

Advertisements like the one to the right have sprouted in the Metro Center subway station in downtown Washington. At issue is that the Washington Post is practicing some of what its op-ed royalists preach, by executing a grab for a Communications Workers of America (CWA) local pension fund. CWA Local 14201 has set up a WashingtonPostUnfair.com web site where they explain what’s going on:

Right now, the production workers have a national pension plan administered jointly by a board of employer and union trustees. But the Post is now demanding the right to withdraw from that plan, as well as requesting the unilateral right to decide what to do with the money in the plan. That money has been diverted from the workers pay raises over the last 30 years. It belongs to the workers. That’s right – the Post is asking to take pension money that has been coming out of its workers’ paychecks.

The pension fund was almost entirely funded by withdrawals from workers paychecks over the years. Now I understand why the Washington Post likes to sound the alarm bell about Social Security — raiding it is no more than they’d been planning themselves.

Wise guys and recent graduates of Econ 101 will probably think deep thoughts about the declining newspaper business to themselves, but Washington Post made $325 million in profits last year, and the management got itself a nice little “Incentive Compensation Plan” that was amended in 2005 “to increase (i) the maximum amount that can be given as an annual incentive compensation award to a participant in a given year, and (ii) the maximum payout of Performance Units at the end of an Award Cycle to a participant, in each case to $5 million.”

Meanwhile, CWA workers haven’t had a raise in 5 years — and the Post hasn’t even been willing to negotiate with them for four years. What are they hoping for? Your help :

Let the Post know you want them to treat their workers with fairness and respect. If you have five minutes to spare, can call the Post at (202) 334-6000. Ask to speak to CEO Don Graham. If you have one minute to spare, use the form below to send an email directly to the Post’s Ombudsman. The Ombudsman serves as the readers’ advocate; and attends to questions, comments and complaints about the paper.

The CWA aren’t calling for a boycott of the Washington Post — yet. On the other hand, why pay 50 cents for the Post when you can get the Washington Times for a quarter? They’re virtually indistinguishable in every other way.

Posted in Post | No Comments »

Department of followups

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 14th July 2007

…an occasional review of further developments in issues, news, or other items I’ve written about before.

Re Jackson Diehl’s “The House’s Ottoman Agenda”, 03/05/07; 90 years ago: Armenian genocide begins, 04/25/05 — Back in March, the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl wrote an exceptionally snotty op-ed deriding the value and wisdom of H.Res. 106, the Armenian Genocide Resolution, saying it em>”pandered” to Armenian Americans and was “almost comically heavy handed.” Rubbish; see for yourself, and ask yourself what you would write if the murder of 1.5 million countrymen went unacknowledged for 90 years. Now the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) reports Majority of US House Members support Armenian Genocide Resolution (link added):

In gaining 218 cosponsors, we have demonstrated that a majority of the House strongly supports recognizing the facts of the Armenian Genocide,” said lead sponsor, Congressman Adam Schiff. “While there are still survivors left, we feel a great sense of urgency in calling attention to the attempted murder of an entire people. Our failure to acknowledge these dark chapters of history prevents us from taking more effective action against ongoing genocides, like Darfur.”

Bravo to Congressman Schiff and his 217 cosponsors, including Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8) who, in an e-mailed response to my support of H.Res. 106, noted that he sponsored a similar measure in the Maryland legislature before coming to Congress. Meanwhile: House 218, Diehl 0.

Support the Employee Free Choice Act, 06/20/07 — As is well known, the Employee Free Choice Act was defeated when Senate failed by 9 votes (51-48) to reach the 60 needed to end debate on the measure. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t thank the representatives and senators who supported it. Locally, it was a clean sweep: Representative Chris Van Hollen and Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin all voted for the bill. At “Free State Politics,” Isaac Smith provides a video clip of Senator Cardin’s floor speech, in which Cardin rebutted the canard that the Act prohibited secret ballot elections. From the official transcript of Cardin’s remarks:

“I listened again to what the Republican leader said about secret ballots, and I know there is a disconnect here, because, again, this legislation doesn’t get rid of that. What this legislation tries to say is we want workers rights to be adhered to. If the majority wants to have a union, they should be able to have a union without intimidation from the employer. And if the majority does not want to have a union, they should be able to do that without intimidation from the union.”

Earlier in his remarks, Cardin was also very good at spelling out what the stakes were for the country as a whole — union and non-union:

Real wages for U.S. workers are lower today than they were in 1973, even though productivity has increased by 80 percent. We do pride ourselves that each generation of Americans will live a more prosperous life than in previous generations. That will not be true for a large number of Americans. Today, wages are not keeping up with productivity. There is a problem in the workforce, and it affects all of us in this country. We need to do something about it.

Real median household income in my own State of Maryland has declined by 2.1 percent from 2000 to 2005. We find a widening of the income gap in America, a widening of the wealth gap in America. We should be moving to narrow that gap, not to see it continue to increase. We have a problem we need to deal with, and this legislation, H.R. 800, gives us an opportunity to debate these issues and determine whether the decline of unionization is one of the factors in contributing to these difficult economic trends.

CEOs are now paid 411 times what workers are paid in America–411 times. In 1990, it was bad enough at 107 times–once again, a widening of the gap. I remember when I was in college talking about the strength of America. The strength of America was that in all the western economic powers we had the narrowest gap between wealth and income. Now we have the widest. We need to do something about it. Unionization helps bridge that gap.

What has happened to unionization? In 1973, 24 percent of Maryland workers worked in a company that offered union representation. In 2006, that number dropped to 13 percent.

Pay attention to the Smithfield Tar Heel walk-out, 11/17/2006; New ICE age for labor?, 02/02/2007 — The Smithfield Tar Heel meat packing plant in North Carolina has been the scene of repeated walkouts and labor strife; the conflict has turned even uglier with Smithfield’s apparent reliance on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to pressure immigrant workers in the midst of a labor dispute.* But what Smithfield, other employers, and their misguided Republican allies in Congress and the White House are likely to find out is that if you stonewall, punish, and harass your workers for trying to improve their appalling working conditions (according to a Human Rights Watch report), those workers just going to have to up the ante.

To wit, Justice at Smithfield and the Union of Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) are now calling for a kind of surgical boycott of Smithfield Tar Heel products. Consumers are urged to take a close look at Smithfield products, and if they’re from the Tar Heel plant, contact the store manager and urge those products to be withdrawn. How can you tell it’s a Smithfield Tar Heel product? Except for a “Queenella” brand, all carry the Smithfield label — and all have a particular identification code. Justice at Smithfield:

You can identify the Tar Heel plant products with these codes:
EST 79C on bacon and EST 18079 on all other pork products.

(Red added to make you look.) The codes are part of the “use by” information and/or USDA inspection information on the meat packaging; see J-at-S’s “Find the Meat” document for examples.

=====
* ICE guidelines supposedly preclude raids on workplaces in the midst of a labor dispute. That’s sensible, since otherwise they’d be essentially encouraging employers to hire illegal workers, only to have ICE be their company cops once a strike is looming. But a recent study shows ICE’s real attitude is “guidelines, shmidelines”: fully 54% of ICE workplace raids take place at workplaces with active labor disputes.
EDIT, UPDATE, 3/10/08: 51-48 vote link added. Worth noting — Obama and Clinton both voted to end debate on the bill, McCain did not.

Posted in Post | 1 Comment »

Make the GOP really filibuster the next one

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 12th July 2007

Writing at “The Next Hurrah,” mimikatz notes that yesterday’s 41-56 victory for Republican dead-enders allowed the GOP to avoid the inconvenience of conducting a filibuster — to deny troops adequate rest. Having framed the story usefully, she draws the sensible conclusion:

What Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid needs to do now is to call GOP Minority leader Mitch McConnell’s bluff and require the GOP to actually filibuster. Bring up Webb-Hagel again, or do it with Levin-Reed. But make them filibuster. Make it plain to the Senators that there will be no August recess until the Defense bill is done, and if the GOP doesn’t want to face losing an upperdown vote, they can filibuster for the whole country to see. The TV stations will love the theater, and the GOP will look as stupid as they did when they staged Bill Frist’s talk-a-thon on judges when the Dems wouldn’t allow up or down votes.

Via hilzoy (“Obsidian Wings”), who provides a detailed catalogue of other measures Senate Republicans have blocked in this way — just about everything Democrats have wanted, including the Employee Free Choice Act a couple of weeks ago. Hilzoy concludes:

The idea of taking a bill off the floor rather than forcing its opponents to keep talking until hell freezes over was a courtesy. In the face of Republican insistence on using the filibuster for everything, that courtesy should be withdrawn.

=====
UPDATE, 7/12: Via Nell’s comment, Bob Borosage explains why Campaign for America’s Future has set up a petition to Harry Reid to do just that:

These bills are overwhelmingly popular, and are simply common sense reforms. Yet every one of them—and many more—got held up in the U.S. Senate.

Conservatives boast about the “success” of their strategy in discrediting the new majority. As Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., put it, “the strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail. So far it’s working for us.” How is it working? It’s dragging the reputation of the Congress down to the level of the failed president. Conservatives lie in the road of progress and then complain that nothing is moving. A while back, eRobin wrote that things start to get attention in Congress when phone calls on a subject exceed 200 a day. Harry Reid’s office is getting one from me tomorrow.

Posted in Post | 4 Comments »

Support the Employee Free Choice Act

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 20th June 2007

AFL-CIOThe Senate is taking up S 1041 this week, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). The act would:
  • Establish stronger penalties for violation of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first-contract negotiations.
  • Provide mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes.
  • Allow employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation.

The last provision — called “card check” or “majority signup” by labor, and “streamlining union certification” in the bill — is designed to make it easier for workers to unionize. It’s important to note that EFCA doesn’t prohibit the traditional route to unionization: secret ballot elections. Instead, it simply provides an alternative.

comparison of NLRB and regular electionsThe “majority signup” unionizing process recognizes that traditional secret ballot elections in the workplace can bear little resemblance to the elections we (hope we) use to elect political leaders. The graphic to the right, based on a report for American Rights At Work, shows some of the differences. Imagine if your mayor could credibly threaten you with shutting down the city if his opponent were elected.

While such tactics are supposed to be illegal, it can be years before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) gets around to considering complaints — let alone punishing management. Thus, according to the AFL-CIO, 25% of companies facing union campaigns illegally fire pro-union workers.

Management has the advantage anyway: they can campaign round-the-clock against unions with posters and meetings, while workers are restricted to breaks and after hours organizing; 92% of companies facing union campaigns have mandatory, closed door anti union meetings; union organizers, of course, can’t compel anyone to listen to them.

Some fret that the “card check” method will make it too easy for pro-union workers to coerce other workers into signing pro-union petitions as well. It’s hard to see how, though; labor law (including the EFCA) prohibits that. At any rate, a study by Adrienne Wheaton and Jill Kriesky found that workers actually feel less coerced by co-workers in “majority signup” situations than in secret ballot ones. That would make sense: “majority signup” would create less of an embattled atmosphere than a high stakes secret ballot election. (Meanwhile, of course, the respondents felt much less coerced by management as well.)

Something is keeping reported tens of millions of Americans from joining unions even though they’d like to; it’s probably because it’s usually just too much of an uphill battle. The Employee Free Choice Act will level that playing field — and bring higher wages and better benefits to workers, for a change.

Contact your Senators and urge them to support this bill and resist Republican efforts to filibuster it. The Employee Free Choice Act deserves an “up or down vote” — and then it deserves to win.

=====
FURTHER READING: For the Long Run: The Employee Free Choice Act, Jefferson Cowie, Cornell University, April 2006, and other documents at the AFL CIO’s “Who Supports the Employee Free Choice Act?” Wal-Mart is the poster child of unionbusting, of course; one of the most recent studies of their methods is by Human Rights Watch: Discounting Rights: Wal-Mart’s Violation of US Workers’ Right to Freedom of Association (summarized here).

Posted in Post | 6 Comments »

Action items: Employee Free Choice Act, Zimbabwe, Darfur

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 3rd April 2007

From American Rights At Work —

After a victory in the House, the battle for workers’ rights has moved to the Senate. We need your help to make the Employee Free Choice Act a reality.

By making a donation to American Rights at Work, you’re helping with our urgent efforts—educating policymakers with briefings on Capitol Hill, telling workers’ stories in the media, and countering the constant drumbeat of misinformation from the well-financed, well-established, and well-coordinated anti-union network.

Related: the AFL-CIO hopes you’ll write your Senators urging them to support the Employee Free Choice Act, and support Verizon workers in New York and New England who’ve made their demands for union representation known via the proposed card-check mechanism.
UPDATE, 4/4: here’s a list of Senators supporting the EFCA; if you’re from one of their states, thank them!

[More posts about Employee Free Choice Act on this blog;
see also the ARAW Employee Free Choice Act web site]


Zimbabwe: Solidarity with Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions – for human rights and the rule of law — The news out of Zimbabwe continues to be terrible, including a brutal police beating of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the runup to last week’s parliamentary elections. (A Guardian report quotes Mugabe:Of course he was bashed.”) Now, a LabourStart release explains:

Alarmed at the growing willingness to oppose the regime openly, including from within the ruling ZANU-PF party, the regime has banned political protests for three months, especially to prevent protests against the Government’s economic failures. But the ZCTU [Zimbabwean Council of Trade Unions — ed.] and others have responded by stepping up their criticisms and protests, and a general strike has been announced for 3-4 April. Over the weekend of 10-11 March, the security services violently attacked opposition leaders and on 13 March, raided the offices of the ZCTU to seize materials about the strike.

Via LabourStart, this link gives you a chance to send a message of solidarity with the ZCTU to Zimbabwean embassies and agencies. If anyone can stop Mugabe’s thugs, it will be the unions — remember Solidarnosc?

[More posts about Zimbabwe on this blog;
see also Timothy Burke’s observations]


SaveDarfur.org is calling for more US funds for peacekeepers in Darfur
. From a recent e-mail:

Congress has agreed that the President failed to address the full funding needs of Darfur peacekeeping in his recent budget request for fiscal year 2008.

To quote the official language of the recently passed funding bill, Congress “is concerned that the Administration has not adequately planned for future peacekeeping activities in Sudan/Darfur in FY 2008 and urges the Secretary of State to work with the Office of Management and Budget to submit a budget amendment for FY 2008 addressing these urgent needs.”

Please join us and Congress in urging the President and his Office of Management and Budget to provide the funds to prevent this budget shortfall that would threaten the Darfur peacekeeping effort.

[More posts about Darfur on this blog]

None of this is enough by itself. But it’s a start for many of us. Go ahead, lend a hand.

Posted in Post | No Comments »

Department of followups

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 25th January 2007

An occasional review of further developments in stuff I’ve written about.

Babel, 12/4/06 — I really liked the movie, so I’m pleased the Academy Awards people nominated it for Best Picture, Best Director, and two Best Supporting Actresses including Rinko Kikuchi, who I misidentified as Yuko Marata though crediting her with a “really memorable performance.” It also got well deserved Oscar nominations for best original screenplay, film editing, and music score.

Appeal for Redress from the War in Iraq, 12/18/06 — The appeal reads: “As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.” Last week that petition, signed by over a thousand military personnel, was delivered to Capitol Hill. From the LA Times account by Noam Levey:

When the campaign began three months ago, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow dismissed the first signatories as “65 people who are going to be able to get more press than the hundreds of thousands who have come back and said they’re proud of their service.” The 1,000 signatories still represent a tiny fraction of the military personnel who have served in and around Iraq since the 2003 invasion. But according to the group, those who have signed the appeal include about 100 officers. Approximately 70% of the signatories are active-duty military, while the rest are reservists or members of the National Guard, said Madden, who added that the group would not reveal the names of the signatories to protect them.

Employee Free Choice Act, 6/13/05 — This perennial progressive wish list item may have the best prospects in years. The measure allows for union locals to be formed once enough signatures are gathered — rather than via up or down votes notoriously susceptible to management pressure and bullying tactics. You can learn more about “card check” systems via American Rights at Work, and you can send your congressman a message you support this sensible measure via a AFL-CIO Working Families petition: “Some 58 million workers would join a union if they could. But, as Human Rights Watch has documented, employers routinely harass, coerce, intimidate and stall to block workers’ freedom to choose union representation. In fact, every 23 minutes a worker is fired or penalized for supporting a union.” The Senate bill is S. 842, and the House version is H.R. 1696; I’m happy to learn my congressman, Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8), is a co-sponsor.

Security Council votes 12-0-3 for UN troops in Darfur, 8/31/06 — One of the three abstentions was China. Now that nation is signaling a slightly different stance — but still no real pressure. The New York Times is running the headline China’s Leader to Visit Sudan and Seek End to Darfur Conflict, with Howard French reporting that Chinese officials announced President Hu Jintao will visit Sudan in early February and “press for a diplomatic solution to the conflict in that country’s western Darfur region.” However, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said that, “while China intended to use its diplomatic influence to encourage a settlement of the Darfur crisis, it would not press Sudan publicly or threaten it with sanctions.”

Fair Share Health Care: canary in the ERISA coal mine, 12/15/06 — Last Thursday The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld last year’s ruling overturning Maryland’s “Fair Share Health Care” law on the grounds that it conflicted with federal law, specifically the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The Baltimore Sun’s Matthew Dolan et al report:

…A divided three-judge panel ruled that the state’s Fair Share Health Care Act was incompatible with federal rules that promote uniform treatment of employees.

“In short, the Fair Share Act leaves employers no reasonable choices except to change how they structure their employee benefit plans,” Judge Paul V. Niemeyer wrote for the majority, adding that such a constricted choice also violates the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA.

One of the three judges disagreed; Judge M. Blane Michael held that the law was “‘a permissible response to the problem’ of escalating Medicaid costs.” While the article reports that most Maryland legislators don’t want to revisit the legislation, Senate Leader Mike Miller is an important exception:

“We’re going to try to work around what the [court’s] majority said and comply with the law,” Miller said. “But at the same time, we can’t allow 60 percent of Wal-Mart employees’ kids to go without health insurance and use the emergency rooms for care. There has got to be some relief for Maryland and the other states.

Emphasis added. And even though he counsels against appealing the verdict, I also agree with Sen. Thomas M. Middleton, a Charles County Democrat and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee: “First of all, Congress needs to loosen up the ERISA laws.” More on the 4th Circuit’s ruling another time, I hope. For now, I’ll just reprint dissenting Judge Michael’s final words:

Because a covered employer has the option to comply with the Act by paying an assessment — a means that is not connected to an ERISA plan — I would hold that the Act is not preempted.

Yes! Jiminy Christmas, that ought to be the ballgame — at least one judge gets it.

=====
NOTES: Fair Share court ruling via Steve Fine (“fineline”)
EDIT, 1/25: Judge Michael’s final words and my comment added.

Posted in Post | No Comments »