The Big Question is a feature where influential lawmakers, pundits and interest group leaders give their answers to a question that’s driving discussion in news circles around the country.

Some responses are gathered via e-mail, while others are gathered in person via tape recorder.

Today’s Big Question is:
With the Employee Free Choice Act ("card check") in question, etc., are unions going to end up disappointed with the 111th Congress?

Read responses below from the AFL-CIO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Americans United for Change, Grover Norquist, United Steelworkers, William Redpath, Dean Baker, and Larry Sabato.

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Read the last Big Question here.

John Sweeney, President of AFL-CIO, said:
We’re confident that major labor law reform is going to pass in 2009. This legislation has more support than ever, including support from President Obama, Vice President Biden, the leadership in Congress, and 73% of the American public.

The Employee Free Choice Act is going through the same Congressional process that every bill does. A bill is introduced and then Congress works through the process of committees, amendments, and debates and almost always the final bill is different from when it started. Read the full response here.

Glenn Spencer, Executive Director of the U.S. Chamber’s Workforce Freedom Initiative, said:
To the extent that the “Employee Free Choice Act” remains their top agenda item, yes, the 111th Congress is likely to disappoint Organized Labor. This is a divisive and extreme proposal that has rallied small businesses, community leaders, and average citizens to defeat it. EFCA now has bi-partisan opposition in Congress, and that opposition is only growing as more people learn about the legislation and its intent to take away the secret ballot, impose one-sided penalties, and allow government bureaucrats to dictate fundamental business decisions to even the smallest of employers. Read the full response here.

Tom McMahon, Acting Executive Director of Americans United for Change, said:
We’re confident that labor law reform is going to pass this year. The Employee Free Choice Act would give workers the choice and opportunity to form a union, thereby the ability to negotiate a better quality of life. It would also enforce real penalties for those who break the law and prevent companies from stalling in order to dissuade workers. Read the full response here.

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, said:
The percentage of American workers paying union dues out of their paychecks has fallen from 33% in the 1950s to below 13% today. Fewer than eight percent of non-government workers are in unions.

The union bosses have made it clear that their number one goal is to force more Americans to pay union dues–average about $500 per worker. Read the full response here.

Leo W. Gerard, President of United Steelworkers, said:
In its naïveté, this question clearly has come from someone unfamiliar with workers’ struggle to organize. When workers band together to seek better wages and working conditions through collective bargaining, the state of the law, recent National Labor Relations Board practices and corporate misbehavior all have made the process so onerous that forming a union may take years. Read the full response here.

William Redpath, Chair of the Libertarian National Committee, said:
Nothing against unions, but I sincerely hope so. While each of us is a part of one special interest or another, and we are (maybe that should read “should,” given the state of campaign finance law) be free to ask our legislators to do things in which we are interested... Read the full response here.

Dean Baker, Co-Director at the Center for Economic Policy and Research, said:
Card check is certainly the number one priority on the union agenda, but unions were big actors behind the stimulus bill and in particular were big proponents of the state emergency aid, the improved unemployment benefits, the green projects and the infrastructure spending. Unions have also made health care reform a high priority and there seems a strong probability that Congress will make substantial progress in this session. Read the full response here.

Larry Sabato, Director of the Center for Politics, said:
Since unions aren’t going to get their top legislative priority, a pure EFCA in this Congress, they will obviously be disappointed. The question really is whether a compromise is reached in the 111th Congress. No one can project precisely the results of the 2010 midterm elections at this early point, but Democrats have a real shot at adding several more Senate seats... Read the full response here.

Herbert London, President of the Hudston Institute, said:
The secret ballot was introduced into the West to avoid voter intimidation. Behind a closed screen one is free to express a preference. This condition is as fundamental to a democratic republic as the right to vote itself...Read the full response here.