Purpose of the Act:
The Employee Free Choice Act will make changes to the National Labor Relations Act:
1.It will give unions the legal authority to unionize employees without a secret ballot election.
2. It will force employers to negotiate 2-year, union contracts through binding arbitration.
3. The Labor Board will receive greater authority to financially punish employers who allegedly violate the Act, to discourage employer opposition to forced unionization and collective bargaining.
Examples of Targeted Employers:
1. Small employers without the understanding, resources or personnel to respond to the union’s activity, whose employees can be contacted and canvassed quickly by union organizers.
2. Employees in any industry who work off-site, where remote, union organizing activity can continue undetected for a period of time.
3. Employees in service industries, such as hotel, restaurant or catering employees, with frequent public contact, who are accessible to union organizers.
4. Employers with employees who see themselves as victims of the employer’s policies and practices, who wish to retaliate against their employer for a perceived slight or for alleged mistreatment.
Key Provisions of the Act:
Union Certified as the Employees’ Bargaining Representative Without a Secret Ballot Election
1. When a majority of employees in a proposed bargaining unit have signed union authorization cards, the Act authorizes the National Labor Relations Board to certify the union as the employees’ collective bargaining representative without a secret ballot election.
2. There is no current provision in the Act, nor proposed amendment, that requires the union to be truthful with employees when it is engaged in its acts of pressure, deceit and manipulation to obtain signed, union authorization cards from the employees it seeks to represent.
3. The Act does not require the union to give notice to the employer of its activities. The employer has little or no opportunity to meet with employees, to explain this process, before the union asks employees to sign its cards.
Mandatory, 2-Year Union Contracts Through Binding Arbitration
1. Collective bargaining must begin within (10) ten days after the employer receives the written request from the union.
2.If the parties cannot reach agreement within (90) ninety days, either party may request mediation through the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, by giving notice of a dispute to FMCS.
3.If, after 30 days, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service cannot convince the parties to agree on a contract through “conciliation,” the “dispute” shall be referred to arbitration.
4.The arbitration panel “…shall render a decision settling the dispute and such decision shall be binding upon the parties for a period of 2 years…”
Treble Damages and Civil Penalties Imposed Against Employers That Violate the Act
1. Treble Damages: If the Labor Board determines that an employer committed an Unfair Labor Practice, by discharging an employee in violation of § 8(a)(3) of the Act during the union’s card signing – organizing activities or during first contract negotiations, the Labor Board may order the employee reinstated and order the employer to pay the employee backpay, plus two times that amount again as liquidated damages (treble damages).
1. Civil Penalties: An employer who willfully or repeatedly violates sections 8(a)(1) or 8(a)(3) of the Act during organizing activities through first contract negotiations, in addition to the treble damages and employee(s) reinstatement, may also be subject to a civil penalty, not to exceed $20,000.00, for each violation.
10 Steps that You Can Take to Avoid Unionization if the EFCA Becomes Law
1. You may not discriminate based on an applicant-employee’s beliefs for or against unions.
2. You must hire competent employees who will partner with you in the business enterprise.
3. You must communicate clearly, consistently and repeatedly with your employees about your organization’s goals, values and objectives.
4. You must develop and distribute handbooks and similar documents that clearly state the Company’s policies, practices and procedures so that employees understand the Company’s position and expectations.
5. You must hire and train a competent supervisory team that will effectively represent your Company, that will effectively communicate its expectations and will act to insure that employees meet these expectations.
6. You must train your supervisory team to quickly recognize and report union organizing activity, in order that your Company may respond in a timely manner before it is too late.
7. You must engage in active listening: Make certain that two-way communication exists so that your employees’ concerns are heard and addressed in a timely manner.
8. You must make certain that your policies and procedures include a dispute resolution procedure that is easily understood and utilized by employees without fear of retaliation.
9. You must recognize and reward employee performance, so that employees value their relationship with your Company and prefer it to the legal processes associated with unionization.
10. With professional assistance, exercise your legal right to oppose unionization by all legal means.