CHARLESTON, W.Va -- Gov. Joe Manchin hastened Tuesday to reassure his labor supporters that he's still working for them, after he received the endorsement of the state and national Chambers of Commerce in his U.S. Senate bid on Monday.
During Monday's press conference on Monday, Manchin said he opposes "card check" provisions in the federal Employee Free Choice Act, first introduced in 2005.
Under "card check" provisions, when the National Labor Relations Board verifies more than 50 percent of employees at a business signed "authorization cards," a secret ballot is bypassed and the union is automatically recognized. Unions favor the provision; businesses largely oppose it.
Some union leaders expressed concerns privately about Manchin's position, although none would state their concerns for the record.
On Tuesday, Manchin said "there needs to be some labor-law reform to create a fair and equitable playing field" between labor and management.
"I will do what I have always done," he said. "I will work with both labor and business leaders to craft solutions that are fair to both employers and employees, and I want to make sure that the playing field is level through the entire organizing process.
Manchin said he supports changing current laws to prevent companies from dragging contract negotiations endlessly, after a majority of workers vote for a union in a secret ballot.
"This is not a fair system. If there has been a successful organizing drive, once the vote is taken, it should be certified immediately and a contract should be negotiated.
"Sometimes, companies don't start talking for a couple of years. Labor gets frustrated. It is a gross inequity," Manchin said.
Ken Hall, a national Teamsters vice president and leader of Teamsters Local 175 in South Charleston, said the union remains a strong supporter of Manchin in November's election.
"We may not agree exactly on everything, but Joe Manchin understands that there should be a balance," Hall said. "He believes negotiations should be conducted in good faith, as opposed to John Raese, who believes workers don't deserve union representation."
Raese, a Morgantown-based businessman, is the Republican candidate in the race to fill the two years remaining in the term of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd. Mountain Party candidate Jesse Johnson and Constitution Party candidate Jeff Becker also are running.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.