What: All Issues : Labor Rights : Rights of Individuals in the Workplace : H. Res. 203 Providing for the consideration of H.R. 800, the Employee Free Choice Act/On ordering the previous question
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H. Res. 203 Providing for the consideration of H.R. 800, the Employee Free Choice Act/On ordering the previous question
house Roll Call 112     Mar 01, 2007
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

This vote was a procedural precursor to a vote that would determine the rules for debate on a bill to make it easier for workers to join unions. In order for legislation to be taken up in the house, the chamber decides on ground rules for which amendments will be considered in order and how much time will be allotted to each side for debate. The rules package, as it is known, is drafted by the majority-dominated Rules Committee. The bill in question would make significant changes to existing labor law and would require employers to recognize a new union through what's commonly known as a card-check procedure. Under current law, if a majority of workers within a given organization sign union cards to organize themselves, the union is only formed if the employer consents to its formation. Instead of doing so, companies often steer the election through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a process that makes it considerably more difficult for a union to be recognized. The legislation would mandate that companies recognize unionizing efforts among their workers if a majority of employees sign cards supporting the union. The business lobby, with a heavy push by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that such a requirement would effectively end secret balloting in union elections, as the cards do not have to be collected blindly, and would open up the possibility of labor unions coercing employees. Labor interests countered that such a change is necessary because the current system allows employers to coerce workers away from unions and to hold up legitimate organizing efforts for years. In the majority-drafted rules package, Democrats permitted Republicans to offer three amendments. One of those amendments, offered by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), would have required the NLRB to allow employees to put their names on a "do not call" list if they didn't want to be contacted by union organizers. This vote was a motion ordering the previous question, which is a parliamentary maneuver that effectively ends debate, prohibits amendment and moves the House to a vote for an up-or-down of the resolution under consideration. If the motion for the previous question is defeated, the House in effect turns control of the floor over to the lawmaker who led the opposition to the question at hand, usually a member of the minority party. As such, motions to order the previous question are usually party-line votes, and the majority party almost always prevails. Such was the case for this vote, and all Republicans present voted against the measure and all Democrats present voted for it, and the motion passed 228-197. Thus, Democrats effectively shut down Republican objections to the rules package, and a bill making it easier for unions to organize came one step closer to floor consideration.

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