Thursday, May 1, 2008

Pryor Stands Up to the Chamber

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) said yesterday that he supports the Employee Free Choice Act, which he called a first step toward modernizing American labor law, and that the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce has "probably exaggerated" claims about the impact on the state’s economy.

The state chamber has made opposition to the pending "card check" bill one of its top priorities. Workers could sign authorization cards to join unions, thus making it much easier to organize, employers maintain. It would mean higher wages and better benefits for employees, which the Chamber opposes.

Pryor said the state group is taking its marching orders from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with its vocal assault on the bill. The chamber overstates concerns that the bill, if approved, would stunt job growth in the
Arkansas, he said.

"I think they're probably exaggerated, and I think the get a lot of this from the national organization," Pryor said. "I think the people in
Arkansas are very common-sense. They're very hard-working. They expect when they work in a place to be treated fairly. Arkansas is a very good place to have a business."

Pryor was the target of an anti-card check advertising blitz a year ago, funded by a national anti-worker coalition that includes the state chamber and the Arkansas Hospitality Association. "I think the national people are trying to rev up a lot of their local chambers all over the country on this issue," he said.

State chamber members leaned on Arkansas lawmakers to oppose the bill during a presentation at the chamber's 49th annual congressional dinner in Washington on Monday. "What we really fear is that every small business in Arkansas would wind up unionized, and I don't see how that does not have an impact on the state economy," said Kenny Hall, executive vice president of the State Chamber

Sen. Blanche Lincoln remains uncommitted. Rep. John Boozman (R-AR3) stands with the chamber on the issue.

Adapted from an article by Aaron Sadler, Stephens Washington Bureau

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