Get ready: Here comes the new Employee Free Choice Act


The latest version of the Employee Free Choice Act has hit the table. Let the fireworks begin.

Sen. Arlen Specter — the Pennsylvania Republican-turned-Democrat who’s been the linchpin of the controversy over the pro-union proposal — has unveiled his version of the legislation. He picked a likely locale: the AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh.

Here are the highlights of Specter’s offering:

  • “Card check” discarded. This was the bill’s sorest spot — a provision that would allow unions to be formed through a simple majority of employees signing cards indicating their approval, a substantive shift from the current requirement that unions can only be formed after secret-ballot elections. The fact that the provision’s not included in Specter’s bill comes as no surprise. He swore he’d never vote for EFCA if card check was part of the package, and he was joined in that opinion by several right-leaning Democratic colleagues.
  • Strict time frames for elections. Labor groups have long complained that with no deadline, employers can extend the period before secret balloting is held to intimidate employees. Specter’s bill would set a specific time limit between the date organizers announce they have sufficient employee support and when the actual voting takes place.
  • Mandatory arbitration. Labor leaders have long complained that employers unfairly dig in their heels during the “first contract” process — to the point where many newly formed unions simply fall apart because the negotiations drag on for months, sometimes years. Specter’s proposal would require the parties to enter into mandatory arbitration after a specific negotiating period. But he adds a bone for employers who are wary of giving mediators the power to dictate contract terms.
    The measure would require both union and management to submit their “last best offer” for arbitration. The mediator would then be required to pick one or the other; the arbiter would not have the power to come up with a compromise. Such a requirement would prevent unions from “asking for the moon” in the hope a mediator devises a deal that splits the difference between the two parties.
  • Equal time. Union organizers would be guaranteed equal access to workers, if the employer holds anti-union meetings during regular work hours.
  • Triple time. Under the Specter proposal, penalties for employers who violate labor laws during organizing efforts would be three times as harsh as they stand today.

Will this version of EFCA pass? At this point, it’s anybody’s guess. With the recent death of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), the Democrats lack the required 60 votes to block a filibuster in the Senate. Nonetheless, Specter said he expected EFCA to pass “before the year is out.”

We’ll keep you posted.

For a look at some of the political maneuvering around Specter’s move, go here.

0 thoughts on “Get ready: Here comes the new Employee Free Choice Act”

  1. I just love the names of this stuff! ‘Fairness Doctrine’ was anything but! ‘Free Choice Act’ is equally funny. Does anyone think that your choice could be ‘free’ with a bunch of union thugs looking over your shoulder as you ‘vote’? This is a complete violation on freedom and free choice…. but with the Obama administration it’s about semantics, it’s about control, it’s about paying your union supporters back.

  2. This bill should not pass, nor should any other version of it. It will hurt businesses across the country and we must do everything we can to stop this bill from getting out of committee. Any member of Congress who votes for this should be targeted for defeat in the next election.

  3. It has been said that a good lawyer will not ask a question of a witness on the stand unless the lawyer knows what the answer will be. A good employer likewise needs to know how the workforce will answer on ‘free choice’ before asking the question. It comes down to individual managers understanding individual employees and management understanding the collective workforce. If there is fear about ‘free choice’ because of the unknown response it is high time to conduct a valid and reliable employee engagement survey and leadership 360 assessments. At least then your worry can be directed to some positive actions.

  4. Steve – If unions were trusted to do the right thing, why has their enrollment dropped from a high of about 47% of the workforce in 1958 to about 12% now. The only increase in union membership in the past several years has been in government – a place they shouldn’t even be permitted to organize -IMHO. Unions are an anachronism and the only ones benefitting from unions are the officers of the unions.

    This “Free Choice” act is just more change we can believe in.

  5. Anyone that really want to see the effects of unionization should look at the UAW. The most powerful union in the country and the biggest reason that major employers like Ford and GM are closing plants. The American people can’t afford union labor. Steve says to pay non-union people more and give better benefits. A great solution except that the price of everything will go up and at a faster rate than pays. Let’s face facts, business owners stay in business by making a profit. The more they pay their employees, the more profit they will want to make. So a 10% increase in wages will cause a 10% increase in the cost of the product. If everyone received union wages and benefits we would all be on welfare in no time.

  6. Mr. Nesich: The question is…. Can the government always be trusted to do the right thing?”
    The best way to judge our government is to look at it in history. At the turn of the 20th century, the United States was in the black with no individual paying income taxes. Then around 1907, congress passed the personal income tax bill and said don’t worry dear citizen, it will never exceed 2% of your income….. that’s just one example. New names for old failed plans.

  7. Steve-
    If I can just go join a union and get the same or better pay than someone else who puts forth the effort to go to college and obtain a higher level of education or training then what would motivate people to go to college at all? It’s hard to justify going to college when one has a family at home to take care of so I don’t see any rationale to stroke my ego for a few letters behind my name or to satisfy my curiosity for learning. If I’m correct with my forecast, the EFCA would ultimately hurt college attendance would it not? And aren’t Union pay scales based on seniority rather than skill level, education, post-grad designations etc.? I won’t claim to know a whole lot about unions but the EFCA just doesn’t smell rightly American to me.

  8. The US got the highest standard of living in the world thanks to unions and the higher salaries of the average working man. The poorest countries in the world have wealthy elites and no protections for workers. We do not want to get into a race to the bottom with wages, and any country that lures US businesses with low labor costs is looking forward to the day when they can copy or take over the US business and make it their own. From Love Canal to Enron to the current banking/mortgage mess, the pursuit of profits often does not include any sense of civic long-term responsibility. The managers who have problems with unions are those who prefer to act by fiat instead through cooperative problem solving. From Love Canal to Enron to the current banking/mortgage mess, the pursuit of profits often does not include any sense of civic responsibility.

  9. Gary: The violation of freedom and choice is from the big CEOs and their henchmen who are looking over the employees shoulders and forcing them to work under near slavery conditions.

    Burrell: What has hurt businesses across the country is greed with no sense of social or environmental responsibility.

    LEU: The decrease in unions is due to the loss of the manufacturing base to third world countries. Right wing agenda: Go to war with unions and destroy U.S. manufactoring. Great strategy!!

    JD: Ford and GM are closing plants because their cars are crap.

    MH: What is clear is that big business cannot be trusted to do the right thing, i.e. lying, stealing and cheating to suck the last dollar from American buyers.

    Patrick: Going to college has nothing to do with this. If you are part of a team building something, what makes someone with a college degree more valuable than the guy he’s working beside.

    EFCA needs to pass to counter management greed at the expense of workers who built the American middle class.

  10. There was a time and place for unions in America, and that time and place has passed. Employee’s rights are no longer being violated nor in question due to all the legislation, and employees visibility to said legislation, which has been imposed upon employers in the last 20 years. If they are being violated, you can simply turn to one of the hundreds of thousands of barred attorneys who are searching for said victims to aide in their peril. The union concept in today’s world is a joke, and you don’t have to look any further then the auto industry for verification.

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