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Chamber of commerce officials oppose Employee Free Choice Act

Don't be fooled by proposed legislation that would make it easier for labor unions to form, state and local business leaders say. The proposed Employee Free Choice Act "is a power grab by union officials" and not in the best interest of workers, ...

Dave MacIver
President of the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce

Don't be fooled by proposed legislation that would make it easier for labor unions to form, state and local business leaders say.

The proposed Employee Free Choice Act "is a power grab by union officials" and not in the best interest of workers, Dave MacIver, president of the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, said at a news conference Thursday in Fargo.

The proposed act, now before Congress, would boost union membership through several changes to current law.

A key component of the act is giving employees who want to join a union the right to sign a card instead of voting in a secret-ballot election, the method preferred now by most employers.

Supporters say the act would help to reverse years of decline in union clout.

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About 7 percent of private-sector workers are unionized. That's down from 20 percent in 1980 and 32 percent in 1960, according to U.S. Department of Labor figures.

MacIver and David Martin, president of the Fargo Moorhead Chamber of Commerce, who also spoke at the news conference, said their organizations aren't anti-union.

Martin said he regularly hears from chamber members who are concerned about the act.

He also said the legislation could affect North Dakota's economy.

"We need to find ways to continue promoting job creation and business agility in the state," Martin said. "We do not believe that increased unionization with the costs that accompany such a change will do that."

Dave Kemnitz, president of the North Dakota AFL-CIO, a federation of labor unions, said Thursday the chambers' claims about the act are off base.

"It's not going to ruin the economy," he said.

The real issue is that corporations have manipulated the current system to keep employees from forming unions, he said.

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"This act is aiming at correcting that," he said.

Supporters of the act held a rally Wednesday in Fargo.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530

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