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Published: Thursday, 3/1/2007

House votes to make it easier for workers to start unions


WASHINGTON Democrats rewarded organized labor today for helping them retake control of Congress, approving a House bill that would make it easier to start unions against companies wishes.

The legislation, approved 241-185 on a nearly party-line vote, would take away the right of employers to demand secret-ballot elections by workers before unions could be recognized

It s simply about establishing fairness in the workplace, said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio said the real issue was taking care of union bosses.

The House action was the second triumph for labor following the Democratic takeover of Congress. The House and Senate have also voted on separate bills to raise the minimum wage.

Labor groups saw the Employee Free Choice Act as one way of halting the downward trend of union membership, down to about 12 percent of the workforce.

The celebrations may be short-lived. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has pledged to block the bill in the Senate, and the White House says the president will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

The House vote was short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to overturn a veto.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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