The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), Alexandria, Va., recently called on its 33,000 member companies to immediately make their voices heard in Congress, urging them to contact their local Representatives and Senators in opposition to the proposed “card check” legislation. Labeled the “Employee Free Choice Act,” the association maintains that the bill would take away a worker's right to a private vote in deciding whether or not to form a union. According to Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC's CEO, the legislation would hurt construction workers and make it very difficult for small construction companies to grow, hire, or succeed.

Representing both union and non-union construction companies, AGC has long supported time-honored rules guaranteeing workers the ability to make one of the most important choices of their working career in a way that is free of coercion or intimidation from either side, says Sandherr, adding that the legislation also requires the federal government to appoint an arbitrator to impose terms of employment for America's business workers if their unions and managers can't reach a deal in 130 days. Currently, the federal government can only impose an outside arbitrator if either side fails to negotiate in good faith.

Sandherr says the 130-day provision is particularly problematic for the construction industry because more than 90% of construction companies are small businesses that employ fewer than 100 people — and that the prospect of having government-appointed officials with little experience in construction dictate labor agreements would discourage would-be employers from starting their own operations. The association is asking its member companies to contact their representatives directly, or to visit to learn more.