Anywhere from 100 to 230 people, many of them union members, gathered at Rep. Peter King's Massapequa office last Thursday to protest his stand on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).
According to protest organizers, Rep. King has supported EFCA in the past, something that the congressman himself acknowledges. Protestors also noted that Rep. King has received "much support" from organized labor on Long Island.
The bill, organizers added, shifts the union-forming decision making process from the employer to the employees. Current labor law, they note, mandates that when workers want a union, they must file with the National Labor Relations Board. EFCA, its proponents claim, provides a card check process, where employees can decide to either go to an election or get immediately recognized by just signing a card. Another aspect of the bill, its proponents added, mandates that a contract be reached within one year of the union's recognition. Supporters believe that mandatory arbitration for first contract campaigns will give "more voice" to workers at the bargaining table.
"I was an original cosponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act when it was first introduced in 2003 and continued to support it and vote for it in subsequent Congresses despite repeated pressure from my own party and the business community," Rep. King told The Massapequan Observer. "I do not, however, intend to support EFCA in this Congress. Our country is facing its most severe economic crisis in 75 years. It is a crisis different from previous recessions in that it includes restricted credit, massive job loss, a plunging stock market, and increased foreclosures and bankruptcies. Virtually every component of our economy is suffering. While I am confident we will recover, I believe the road ahead will be long and difficult. Under these conditions, I have concluded that the Employee Free Choice Act would be too severe a shock to our economy at this time and would be counterproductive. I will continue, of course, to monitor the situation but that is my current thinking."