A coalition of retailers, shopping center owners and developers warned Thursday of major job losses if Congress passes a bill that would make it easier for workers to join a union.
But President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden reiterated their support for the legislation that has become a political flash point pitting organized labor against the business community during the worst U.S. recession in decades.
“As we confront this crisis and work to provide health care to every American, rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, move toward a clean energy economy and pass the Employee Free Choice Act, I want you to know that you will always have a seat at the table,” Obama said in a videotape message played Tuesday at the opening session of AFL-CIO annual meeting in Miami Beach.
Obama was a co-sponsor of the bill when he was in the Senate.
The Alliance to Save Main Street Jobs, which includes the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the International Council of Shopping Centers, commissioned a study that projects job losses of as much as 600,000 in 2010 if 1.5 million union jobs are created.
The author of the study, economist Anne Layne-Farrar, said companies react to higher labor costs associated with unionization by relocating, sourcing more overseas, laying off workers and passing on price increases to consumers. The report contends that every 3 percentage points gained in union membership would result in a 1 percentage point rise in the unemployment rate in the following year. The unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent in January and is expected to spike again in February.
The Employee Free Choice Act would allow a majority of workers who sign a card in support of a union to automatically certify it and would stiffen penalties against employers that illegally fire or discriminate against workers for union organizing. It would permit employers and employees to refer bargaining to mediation and, if necessary, binding arbitration should they be unable to agree on a first contract within 90 days. A federal arbitrator would then establish a two-year contract.
Business opponents said the proposal would eliminate management’s ability to argue against unionization by abolishing secret-ballot elections. Executives also oppose the provision that gives control of a contract to a third-party arbitrator in the event of an impasse.
In a speech at the AFL-CIO meeting on Thursday, Biden said: “The legal industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars exclusively in an effort to block workers from pursuing their legal rights, from unions being able to get collective bargaining agreements.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast