As Congress returns from its August recess, look for a renewed push to pass a compromise version of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a bill that’s been dubbed “the most sweeping pro-union legislation in the past 50 years.”
The good news: Opponents of the bill (H.R.1409, S.560) have succeeded in getting lawmakers to back off the scariest aspect of the bill for businesses—the so-called “card check” provision.
It would have allowed unions to win certification in a company once a majority of workers signed cards in favor of a union. Traditional secret ballots would have been eliminated. The bill’s supporters now admit they don’t have the votes to pass a card-check version of EFCA, so they’re moving forward on a trimmed-down version.
The bad news: The compromise being discussed on Capitol Hill would “still give unions the whip hand in negotiations with ” says The Wall Street Journal. It essentially would “repackage most of what labor wants with new ribbons and wrapping.”
Learn more about EFCA’s legislative prospects and what it could mean for your organization by registering for our Aug. 27 webinar, “Beyond EFCA: Preparing for the New Era of Union Organizing.”
The leading compromise EFCA bill would, among other things:
- Reduce the time for an organizing vote, requiring that it be held within 10 days after 30% of workers signed cards asking for a union. The median time now is 38 days. (Unions know that the more time workers have to learn about a union, the less they’ll usually want one.)
- Apply binding arbitration on a contract if one isn’t established within 90 days, which encourages unions to stall in negotiations.
- Provide union organizers with equal access to the workplace.
- Dramatically increase penalties on employers that are found to have interfered with union activities.
With health care reform and appropriations bills eating up much of the fall congressional calendar, EFCA could fall victim to time. But the Democrats want to show a victory this year, and EFCA could be the ticket.
As The Wall Street Journal notes, business groups are still bracing for the possibility that Democrats will reach a compromise and try to quickly push it through the Senate this fall, giving opponents little time to mount an opposition.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Learn the latest on EFCA, plus advice on what you can do now to keep your organization union-free, listen to Beyond EFCA: Preparing for the New Era of Union Organizing.