All the coverage of the Obama administration’s efforts to pass a health reform measure may have pushed the proposed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) into the shadows. But don’t be fooled — the pro-union legislation isn’t going away.
We’ve heard conflicting reports about just what the Democrats have up their sleeve concerning the legislation, which is aimed at making it easier for employees to form unions. One report says the Dems have shelved EFCA in favor of working on health reform. Another says Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) may be plotting a maneuver to push a measure through before opposition forces have a chance to mount a counterattack.
So anything’s possible.
You’ve probably heard that the Democrats have agreed to drop the most controversial part of the bill: the “card check” provision, which would allow workers to unionize with a simple majority of employee signatures on sign-up cards.
Overshadowed in the hubbub around the card check deletion, however, was another EFCA provision that should make employers shudder: the requirement that if union and management can’t agree on a contract within 120 days of union certification, the matter goes before an arbitration board — which will issue a binding contract.
A few other frightening aspects of the proposal:
- increased penalties for employers who interfere with union organizing activities, including triple back pay to employees who are unlawfully fired or discriminated against during an organizing drive or in the period between certification and the first contract, and
- civil fines of up to $20,000 per violation if an employer’s found to have violated employee rights during an organizing campaign or while bargaining the first contract.
For a look at where the legislation stands, go here.