With most eyes in Congress focused on health care reform, federal legislation that would make union-organizing easier also has steadily moved along.

The 2009 Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), the standing card check proposal in Congress, would take away the secret ballot election if more than 50% of employees sign union cards. It would also mandate binding arbitration if the employer and union can't agree on contract terms within three months.

Card check legislation is high on the national priority list of labor unions because it's specifically designed to make it easier for them to form in the workplace. All of Connecticut 's Congressional delegation supports the EFCA.

Now, according to the Wall Street Journal , Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Penn.)—who opposed card check earlier this year—is working on new language that would decidedly tilt the playing field in favor of union organizers.

The Journal says a new version of the EFCA Sen. Specter is talking about would drop the push to end secret-ballot elections. However, it would sharply cut the time—to within a week— in which an election would have to be held if only a minority of employees petition for a union.

What's more, the new proposal would give labor groups access to workplace meetings between employees and their employers before the vote. And it would keep the provision of quick binding arbitration.

Critics say the new proposal simply rewraps the blatantly pro-union, anti-jobs legislation in a new package designed to take away fears of removing the secret-ballot election. However, the AFL-CIO says that the earlier version—with the end to secret-ballot elections—is still in play.

Many efforts have been made to pass similar legislation in Connecticut , and it is apparent that pressure for a card-check bill will be renewed in the General Assembly if the proposal fails again in Congress.

CBIA urges Connecticut businesses to contact their federal lawmakers and let them know how card-check legislation would increase their costs, weaken their competitiveness and make it harder to stay in business. (Go to www.cbia.com/gov/congress.htm for contact information.)

For more information, contact CBIA's Kia Murrell at 860-244-1931 or kia.murrell@cbia.com.