Wow, what an election this week in the U.S. With a big Obama victory, the fight begins for labour law reform in the U.S. As we noted earlier, Obama has expressed strong support for new laws aimed at rebuilding the American labour movement, including the Employee Free Choice Act. As Professor Hirsch explained in his Guest Blog, that legislation would re-introduce statutory card-check (replacing mandatory ballots), among other things. Empircal evidence from Canada indicates that unions are more successful organizing new workplaces when a certification can be obtained by collecting membership cards on behalf of a majority of workers.
There was a fascinating story in the Washington Post yesterday (the Post website might make you create a free account) describing the efforts of the AFL-CIO (the umbrella organization for most of the American labour movement) in support of Obama [Thanks Peter Cameron for pointing this story our to me]. Union members were encouraged to vote for Obama, and many did. Check out these amazing figures cited in the Post article:
Exit poll data gathered for the AFL-CIO by Peter D. Hart Research Associates found that among union members, Obama won the white male vote by 18 points, while he lost that same group in the general population by 16 points. There were also wide disparities in support for Obama between union and non-union voters who are white weekly churchgoers, veterans, gun owners and whites who have not graduated from college. Union members supported him in each case, while he lost each group in the general population, the poll found.
The Obama camp (and the Democrats more generally) will probably take a good look at those types of numbers in deciding how to move forward with all those promises to reform labour laws.
Here are some other interesing commentaries from American labour law experts on how Obama should proceed with his labour law reform agenda from Professor Paul Secunda (Marquette Law School) and Bill Gould (Stanford, and former Chair of the NLRB).
It will be interesting to watch whether, during the impending debates about the Employee Free Choice Act, opponents of the law argue that it could drive employers to Canada, where mandatory votes are the law in most places! The Canadian shift from a card-check to a vote model over the past couple of decades will almost certainly be raised by the law’s opponents as evidence of the wrong-headedness of going back to a card-based model. How odd it will be for those of us who grew up listening to Americans (and Paul Weiler) argue that U.S. laws should catch up to Canadian labour laws. Interesting times indeed.