Investors get behind union bill

A group of investors who manage $372 billion in assets have called upon Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

In a letter Monday to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the sponsors of the legislation, the coalition of investment groups from the United States and abroad endorsed EFCA, which would make union organizing much easier for workers if passed.

"As investors, we believe constructive labor relations are essential for improving productivity, efficiency and workplace safety," said Steven Heim, an executive with Boston Common Asset Management, in a statement. "We believe the proposed legislation would help appropriately rebalance labor-management relations and better protect workers if they face unlawful conduct by employers when exercising their workplace rights."

The endorsement was touted by labor officials as a sign that the union bill would help improve the economy.

"Allowing workers to freely form unions is essential to both increasing middle-class purchasing power and producing a highly-skilled workforce to promote future economic growth," said Kimberly Freeman, acting executive director of American Rights at Work. "Unfortunately, under the current labor law system, illegal firings, anti-union threats, and employer intimidation keep workers from exercising their choice on joining a union. By rectifying these flaws, the Employee Free Choice Act will stimulate the economy by allowing workers to bargain, not borrow their way into the middle class."

Advocates for the business community have argue that EFCA, often called "card-check," would lead to a loss of jobs because it would trigger more union strikes and workplace shutdowns. A number of Democratic lawmakers have distanced themselves from the legislation, arguing the recession makes it too difficult to pass.

-- Kevin Bogardus