Statement on New "Card Check" Legislation
Executive Vice President
American Hospital Association
March 10, 2009
The so-called "Employee Free Choice Act" actually eliminates what it claims to protect – an employee's personal choice, free of outside influences, about whether or not to form a union. In reality, it takes away the right to vote by secret ballot in free and fair elections, which is the bedrock principle of American democracy.
Under the legislation, only half of employees with similar job responsibilities need to sign a card to unionize, leaving the rest without any voice. In contrast, current law protects employees' use of a secret ballot in confidential elections overseen by the National Labor Relations Board – a system that protects employees from pressure from both unions and employers.
Equally troubling, the bill creates a process of binding arbitration that could have a far-reaching, adverse impact on patient care. Workers, as well as employers, are required to accept for two years whatever a federal arbitrator – who may not understand patients' health care needs – decides is an appropriate agreement. This rigid process could potentially hinder nurses' and other caregivers' ability to rapidly respond to emergencies, implement new technology or immediately address patients' needs.
The Employee Free Choice Act is a misnomer. It takes away employees' free choice, it takes away their right to a private vote and it replaces caregivers' best judgment with an outsider's opinion. The AHA strongly opposes this legislation because we support employees' rights to free and fair elections.
About the AHA
The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at www.aha.org.
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