Legislation stalls project in Eau Claire County
The Employee Free Choice Act bill that is currently under consideration at the federal level has caused one major economic development project in Eau Claire County, which was anticipated to start construction this year, to be placed on hold indefinitely. If the federal legislation is passed, the project will not occur, at least in the United States, according to a news release issued late Wednesday afternoon from the Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corp. (ECA-EDC).
According to ECA-EDC Executive Director Brian Doudna, Eau Claire County would experience a $50 million investment and the eventual creation of 800 full-time jobs over the next five years if the project were to proceed. Employment was scheduled to start in early 2010 with approximately 100 new jobs being created in the first year. Douda and other area officials said they could not release the name of the company that was planning to expand.
The Employee Free Choice Act legislation is designed to assist unions increase membership. Under current law, as soon as more than 50 percent of the workers in an appropriate bargaining work unit sign a union authorization card, the employer can choose to recognize the union as the wish of 100 percent of the workforce if he/she believes it reflects the actual sentiment of the employees (even though not a single emloyee has actually been able to cast a personal, private vote). The proposed bill would allow workers to unionize in a more open forum.
Under the proposal, union representatives would be able to "card check" the workforce, which makes all votes for union authorization public, instead of remaining private. Not surprisingly, the "card check" procedure almost always results in a union victory because the union controls the entire process.
"While debating topics and issues are an important part of the U.S. political process, our ability to grow, retain and recruit jobs to our marketplace is now being impacted," said Doudna, who added, "Proposed federal and state legislation, as shown by this company's decision, can impact location decisions and limit the private sector's ability to create quality jobs for Eau Claire area residents. This is especially disappointing given the condition of our current national, regional and local economies."
In a phone interview Wednesday afternoon with TBL, Doudna stated, "There's not a lot we can do right now. It is really in the hands of federal and state lawmakers now," he said. TBL