N.J. Senate Favors Easy Unionization

LCT Staff
Posted on January 5, 2005

TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey’s Senate Labor Committee has released legislation that would recognize a union if a majority of workers at any given company merely sign a card expressing “an interest” in representation.

The state senate bill, S-194 (B. Smith, Sweeney), would deny employees the right to vote for or against unionization in a traditional secret-ballot election. The process, known as the card-check method, would also deny employers the right to present their positions to employees. The New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) strongly opposes this bill, stating that because employees express an interest in forming a union, does not mean they are in favor of it. Employees should not be denied the opportunity to hear their employer’s point of view or to weigh the pros and cons of unionization before making a decision.

The association said union organizers could easily pressure employees into signing cards, and the only way to protect the right of employees to make an informed decision is to hold an election, as is currently provided by law.

The federal National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) guarantees employees the right to organize. But a basic tenet of the NLRA is that employees be allowed to make that decision in a secret-ballot election, free from coercion by union or employer. Under S-194, cards could be solicited early in a unionization campaign without a company’s knowledge. Employees would then be denied their employer’s response to union claims.

Historically, more than half of all organizing drives are defeated by employees who are allowed to make informed decisions and cast their votes in a confidential election.

According to John Rogers, VP of human resources issues for NJBIA, “At this time, it is unclear if or when S-194 will become law. The bill cleared one of its hurdles when it was reported from the Senate Labor Committee on Dec. 13, 2004. It still needs to be approved by the entire Senate and by the General Assembly. The next time the Senate could consider the bill would be February 17, 2005.

“I would urge everyone who opposes this legislation to reach out to their State Senator and Assembly members and express their opposition to this bill,” he said.

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