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Harkin working for compromise on card check legislation

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U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin is “more and more hopeful” he can negotiate a compromise on legislation to make union organizing easier.

“We’re making progress,” the Iowa Democrat said Thursday, “but these are delicate negotiations, and I’m not about to negotiate them in public now.”

Harkin, who sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, told reporters he thinks he can find the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster by minority Republicans and a handful of Democrats.

While Harkin would not talk about the substance of negotiations, he promised not to give up on the basic tenet of the union-backed card check. Sometimes called majority sign-up, card check is a method for employees to organize into a union when a majority of employees sign authorization cards indicating they want to be represented by a union. Currently, organizing involves workers voting on whether they be represented. Typically, those elections are costly and vigorously contested by employers.

Harkin wants a process that helps workers and employers avoid “all of the intimidation, threats of firing and actual firing that’s taking place today.” In 2007, he said, more than 30,000 workers were given back pay because they were illegally fired during organizing campaigns.

Republicans have said they will filibuster the card-check legislation, and Harkin said earlier this week he doesn’t have the 60 votes to prevent a filibuster. 

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