Labor Law Guy

Dems Looking to Modify the Employee Free Choice Act?

Posted in Federal Labor Law, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on March 12, 2009

The business-feared, loved-by-unions Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) was introduced in both the House and the Senate on Tuesday. Passage by the House seems a done deal, but in the Senate success hinges on getting 60 votes to choke off a filibuster.

With 58 (and potentially 59 with Al Franken) Democratic Senators, invoking cloture wouldn’t seem like such a high hurdle, but a handful of Senate Dems is having reservations about EFCA while Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who voted for EFCA the last time around, is more hesitant in the midst of a re-election tussle.

Also, consider this: The Senate bill listed 40 co-sponsors, six fewer than in 2007. The House bill had 223 co-sponsors, compared with 230 co-signers on an earlier version of the legislation.

Already, there’s talk that the proposed law might be modified, and some have even speculated on a “grand bargain” in which the card-check provision is stripped out but the other portions are left intact.

Card check is what opponents like to call the EFCA since the law would allow workers to unionize once 50 percent plus one of them sign an authorizing card. A secret ballot would no longer be required but would be an option–at the workers’ choosing, not the employers’.

Even with card check out, the EFCA would still create many headaches for businesses. Its other  provisions increase penalties for interfering with union organizing efforts and also mandate binding arbitration if union and company can’t agree on a contract. In fact, the final result of the arbitration could be a dictated contract forced down the company’s throat!

Representative Joe Sestak (D.-PA) has already introduced an alternative piece of labor legislation–the National Labor Relations Modernization Act–that basically removes card check but leaves the other provisions in.

Senator Specter, who voted with the Democrats to end the filibuster when the EPCA was first introduced in 2007, is no longer a sure “yes” vote. He’s facing an extremely tough primary opponent, Representative Pat Toomey, who vociferously opposes EFCA and almost beat him last time around. Plus, Specter himself authored a paper last summer for a Harvard symposium, in which he recounted horror stories of union lies and intimidation employed to trick and force workers into signing authorization cards.

At any rate, as Personnel Concepts has reported in its white paper on labor law under Obama, the battle over EFCA should be grand drama.

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5 Responses

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  1. Monica Facio said, on March 12, 2009 at 10:53 am

    If this were to pass I don’t think people understand how it would affect business. You would think with unions the cost of doing business will go up and force most businesses to close. If they close there’s no jobs. Then where is great Obama’s “save the US economy” plan…dead in the water where it should of been to start. This has to be the dumbest piece of legislation I have ever seen. Can you say suicide.

    The general public should be treated just like that the general public. They are not smart enough to make money decisions and will drive the economy into worse conditions. Leave running businesses to the those people smart enough to run a business and not those that to lazy to do anything with themselves but milk others for nothing.

  2. laborlawguy said, on March 12, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    I just found out that there’s no small business exemption in EFCA as there was in NRLA. I’m going to blog about it and get it up tomorrow.

  3. laborlawguy said, on March 12, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Yeah, a lot of people look at it and say, “Hey, it means more money for workers!” and say they support it without realizing that it would force a lot of businesses out of business and eliminate a lot of employees at surviving businesses. We went through this when the NLRA created unionization back in the 1930s. The economy was recovering from the stock market crash of 1929, and then the NLRA was passed. Wham, right back into depression went the economy.

  4. JD said, on April 1, 2009 at 7:32 am

    “I just found out that there’s no small business exemption in EFCA as there was in NRLA. I’m going to blog about it and get it up tomorrow”

    You Funneh!

    Section 2 of EFCA AMENDS Section 9(c) of the National Labor Relations Act (a.k.a. 29 U.S.C. 159(c)). Yet by your inference, this bill would OMIT provisions already written into the NLRA. You must be under the (FALSE) impression that it REPLACES the entire NLRA as it is currently written. Or perhaps this is just another (weak) attempt at “framing” the message you and your ilk are attempting to portray to an UNINFORMED public:

    Be AFRAID! BE VERY AFRAID!!!

    But the TRUTH would only serve as an obstruction to the misinformation campaign being waged by the pro-business, anti-worker lobby (“it strips workers of the secret ballot”—another CANARD).

    EFCA proposes to do three things: to streamline union certification (section 2); to facilitate initial collective bargaining agreements (section 3); and to strengthen enforcement (section 4).

    These AMENDMENTS are long overdue, IMHO.

  5. laborlawguy said, on April 2, 2009 at 9:09 am

    I guess you didn’t read my follow-up post, in which I clarify the small business exemption. The exemption is, as you note, in the FLSA, but it hasn’t been updated since the 1950s, so it stands at gross revenues of $50K per year. If a small business doesn’t gross more than that, then it’s probably a home-based, one-person operation. If you work for yourself, you don’t need a union; you can pamper yourself all you want. Problem is, if you pamper too much, your income will be eaten up or disappear, which unions (see Detroit, UAW) don’t seem to grasp.


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