What Can 'Brown' Do for Big Labor?

With union membership steadily declining since the late 1960s, organized labor today represents only about 12 percent of the American workforce. Unions lost 326,000 members in the last year alone. That's why they are pressing congressional Democrats...

"There's been smart legislative maneuvering with the Democratic majority," said Roger Hickey, co-director of the liberal Campaign for America's Future. "They're able to get some important small changes, and the pressure is building for a more comprehensive approach."

Union foes, meanwhile, predict a backlash. "I think they're going to be surprised by the beating they take in the next election," said Greg Mourad, director of legislation at the National Right to Work Committee. Votes taken in the House and Senate on the card-organizing bill are "going to come back to bite them."

But the unions have mustered some support from Republicans in their fight with FedEx: 14 GOP House members voted in committee to change FedEx's labor law status. Unions have been persuasive in making the case that FedEx isn't a conventional airline, said Edward Wytkind, director of the transportation trades department at the AFL-CIO. "Having UPS involved, expressing their interests, making sure everybody is being treated the same helps," he said.

FedEx remains confident it will prevail. "UPS and the Teamsters shouldn't be trying to use a legislative bailout to further their customer and union growth," said FedEx's Lane. "We think Congress dictating a marketplace winner is wrong. That should be the choice of customers."

FAA reauthorization (HR 2881), CQ Weekly, p. 2043; union card-organizing (HR 800), p. 2044.

Source: CQ Weekly The definitive source for news about Congress. ©2007 Congressional Quarterly Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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