Unions have not had such a sympathetic occupant in the White House, since, well, arguably FDR. Obama, as a senator, had been a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act of 2007, which would, with its Orwellian title, outlaw secret ballots in certifying unions in the workplace. Okay, so the card check proposal isn’t FDR’s Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 (labor on federal construction projects had to be paid no less than local rates on similar projects), or the Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932 (addressing the issue of agreeing NOT to join a union as a condition for employment), the Wagner Act of 1935 (guaranteeing workers rights to join unions) or the Fair Labor Standards Act (minimum wage). The above acts raised the cost of labor and contributed to the increase in unemployment during the Great Depression. Many feel that Obama’s labor agenda might do the same now.
On the other hand, now that we’re in the Great Recession, perhaps financial advisors should join—and we don’t mean “join” as in managing Taft-Hartley plans, either—the union movement. A thread on Registered Rep.’s Advisor Forum argues that the card check proposal (although apparently no longer with enough support in the U.S. Senate to pass) would make it easier to start unions. So, why not join ‘em? And you thought you were a professional . . . . As this magazine has long been noting, court cases around the country have deemed that reps qualify for overtime. Also, legislation may be reintroduced that would re-define what an independent contractor is; many independent b/ds are already worried that it would force them to classify (and compensate) independent-contractor FAs as employees. Obama is sympathetic to this concept too. So, you reps might as well union up!