The Employee Free Choice Act

By a vote of 51-48 the Employee Free Choice Act was defeated in a Senate cloture vote after passing the House 241-185. EFCA will sure to be an issue in the 08 Presidential Race as all Democrat candidates supported stripping workplace freedoms away from employees and employers.

What EFCA Would Do

There are three main components of EFCA. The central feature of the bill would outlaw secret ballot elections by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) among employees to decide whether to be represented by a union. Instead, the EFCA would permit unions to inveigle employees to sign “authorization cards” agreeing to labor representation in front of union agents. Second, the bill would give unions the power to invoke outside arbitration to gain a first contract, abandoning the American tradition of letting the parties settle their differences through good faith collective-bargaining. In other words, Business owners would suddenly have no one to negotiate on “first contracts” they would be removed from the Bargaining process and forced to accept due to EFCA an outside arbitration process without their input and the one sided and unfair employment contracts with the unions that this would imply. Third, the bill would increase penalties against employers for certain labor law violations, requiring reimbursement three times the amount of wages lost by an employee and imposing civil fines of as much as $20,000 per incident, yet would not levy harsher sanctions for union misconduct.

Why Authorization Cards Cannot Substitute for a Secret Ballot Election

Key Union Arguments in Favor of EFCA and Why They are False

NLRB election processes are too slow. According to NLRB statistics, in FY 2005, the median time between a union’s petition for a representation election and the holding of the election was only 38 days, and 94.2% of all elections were conducted within 56 days of a petition.

Employers engage in massive illegal conduct to defeat unions, discriminating against 20,000 employees per year, and the NLRB is too slow respond. In FY 2005, the NLRB reports that it issued complaints of unlawful conduct against employers in only 1,160 cases – a ten year low - and ordered only 2,842 employees reinstated. In FY 2005, 97.2% of cases having merit were promptly settled; the median length of time to issue complaints in other cases was only 95 days.

It is too hard for unions to get initial contracts with employers. Employers are already required, under penalty of law, to bargain with unions in good faith. Employers should not be forced to submit to onerous terms imposed by a third party that may jeopardize jobs and profitability.

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