Is a Deal Imminent on the Employee Free Choice Act?

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On September 15, 2009, Senator Arlen Specter reportedly announced to a group of union leaders at an AFL-CIO convention that the Senate now has an employee free choice bill that will meet labor’s objectives, which presumably means a bill that will curtail the rights of an employer to manage the operation of its enterprise.  The House and Senate versions of the Employee Free Choice Act were introduced in March, 2009.  But, each bill remains bottled up in committees.  Supposedly, some Senate Democrats are predicting passage of a compromise bill this year.   Richard Trumka, incoming AFL-CIO President, has reportedly indicated that no final deal in place….yet.  However, the rumored changes to the EFCA appear significant:  1). Shortened Elections: In place of card check recognition, elections will be shortened to as few as 5-10 days, which will still give employers no meaningful opportunity to respond to the union challenge; 2).  Final, Best Offer Arbitration: Reportedly, there is a compromise on this aspect of the legislation in which the arbitrator would choose the entire final, best offer proposed by either the empl0yer or the union.  For employers, this proposed alternative is even worse than the initial, binding arbitration provision proposed in the bill.  Such a provision would encourage the union to present extreme proposals in collective bargaining, in the hope that they could persuade an arbitrator to adopt the same;  3).  Union Access to the Workplace:  As if a shortened election weren’t bad enough,  this alternative would give the union the legal right to actually interfere with and chill the employer’s exercise of free speech in the workplace.  By substantially interfering with the employer’s right to manage the operation of its enterprise, the reported compromise would allow the union actual access to employer meetings on unionization and also allow the union to have individual meetings with employees.  This portion of the compromise bill would also reportedly give a union access to the employer’s communication systems during an election campaign.   4).  Penalties-Treble Damages:  Predictably, there is no change as to the proposed penalties and money damages to be imposed on any employer found to be in violation of the Act.  Any employer courageous enough to challenge the union’s campaign statements, or its empty campaign promises,  may also face the financial risk of responding to unfair labor practice charges filed by employees or a union with the National Labor Relations Board.  If the Senate or House Bill contains these changes, it is certainly bad news for our nation’s employers.

September 23rd, 2009|Blog|0 Comments

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