Compromise: 1. a settlement of differences by mutual concessions. 2. the result of such settlement. 3. something intermediate between different things. 4. an endangering, esp. of reputation; exposure to danger, suspicion, etc. 5. to settle by a compromise. 6. to make liable to danger, suspicion, scandal, etc. 7. to involve or affect unfavorably. 

The Wall Street Journal recently published a great editorial on Senate discussions over the so-called “Employee Free Choice Act” (HR 1409/S 560). The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace issued a press release on compromise discussions, both of which got me thinking: of these seven definitions of “compromise” from my Random House College Dictionary, which ones apply to the ongoing negotiations on “card check”?

Depends on whom you ask—those parties that are actively involved in the “compromise” negotiations to achieve the magic 60 votes necessary for passage in the U.S. Senate probably feel that they are settling differences by “mutual concessions.” Of course, we don’t know which parties are actually cutting the deals—are the compromise discussions limited to “squishy” Senators and union activists, or do small business owners, employers, and the employees themselves have a seat at the table?

On the other hand, die-hard opponents of EFCA in any form hear “compromise” and think in terms of the verb, as in, “any compromise on EFCA is going to compromise the free market system and jobs.” They tend to adopt definitions 4, 6 and 7 as their “card check” mantra.  In other words, any form of this bill will endanger the American economy.

“Deal-making” is not necessarily the same thing as true compromise.  If Congress wants to have a serious discussion about changes to labor law, all parties and stakeholders—employees, unions, small business owners, employers, etc.—need to be included in the discussions. 


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