by Mark Mathison, Esq., Gray Plant Mooty, Minneapolis
The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), commonly referred to as the “card check” bill, is the top legislative priority of labor unions. Democrats in Congress and President Obama have expressed support for the proposed law.
If passed, the EFCA would streamline the process of union organizing, tilting it substantially in favor of workplace unionization. The law would make it more difficult for employers to oppose union organizing, and would limit employers’ bargaining power if they do become unionized.
The actions you take now – not in six months – will make the difference between staying union-free and answering to Local 123.
Employers and HR professionals must prepare NOW for these radical changes. And to help, HR SPECIALIST is proud to present Beyond EFCA: Preparing for the New Era of Union Organizing.
The federal National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) governs most private employers. The EFCA in its present proposed form has three primary features that would change the NLRA in unprecedented ways.
1. It would abolish an employer’s right to demand that its employees be afforded a secret-ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to decide whether they want to become unionized.
The EFCA would basically replace the secret-ballot election with a “card check” process. This would require an employer to recognize a union if it obtained signatures on union authorization cards from a majority of employees within a bargaining unit selected by the union.
Employers would have no chance to respond, and employees would have no chance to vote by secret ballot.
2. It would mandate binding arbitration if the employer and the union do not reach agreement on a complete contract within 120 days of unionization. An arbitrator would decide the terms and conditions of employment for workers in the bargaining unit. That would substantially limit employers’ bargaining strategies and negotiating discretion.
3. It would create new and substantial penalties for certain unfair labor practices committed when unions are attempting to organize, or during negotiations on a first contract.
Union-free employers should consider acting now to keep their operations union-free. Develop an action plan now!
The EFCA would triple the penalty for discharging or discriminating against an employee during this period and create civil penalties up to $20,000 for certain violations.
Develop an action plan now
Union-free employers should consider acting now to keep their operations union-free. Some possible action steps:
• Take a hard look at employee satisfaction levels. Maintain open lines of communication. Dissatisfied employees and festering workplace issues are fertile ground for union organizers.
Conduct an objective workplace audit, focusing on employees’ views of management’s responsiveness, compensation levels and provisions for workplace health and safety. Listening and responding fairly to employee feedback can help ensure that a union doesn’t find a welcome reception.
• Communicate with employees about unions, union cards and free choice. If the EFCA becomes law, employers will no longer have an election campaign during which to inform or persuade employees about the negative aspects of unions.
That means employers instead should periodically educate employees in lawful messages about unionization.
• Review anti-union policies. Certain employer policies can help prevent unionization. To be effective, however, policies must be in place before there is any organizing activity. Policies to consider or review include those covering visitors at work, solicitation of fellow employees (orally or via e-mail), distribution of literature and employee dispute and problem-solving options.
• Train supervisors on unions and labor law. Cover the nature of unionization and labor law limitations on management conduct. Training can help managers avoid making mistakes that could damage your union-free status.
• Act now. Union cards signed by employees today will be effective union tools if the EFCA becomes law. The likely passage of this bold new labor law means that employers should begin now to examine and modify their labor relations strategies and communications.
In this special 75-minute CD, a true labor and employment expert will teach you:
- How vulnerable YOUR organization is to union campaigns
- Big Labor’s newest organizing tactics – and how to counteract them (without violating the NLRA)
- What the Democratic Administration has promised the unions – and how they plan to follow through
- The current status of EFCA (in plain English!), and where it’s likely to end up
- What other pro-union bills you MUST be prepared for (RESPECT Act, Patriot Employers Act, etc.)
- The 10 early warning signs of union activity in your workplace
- The mistakes your managers are making right now that practically invite a union to step in
Buy the CD Now!
- 14 practical changes to your current HR practices to make employees not even think about wanting a union.
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