Monday, April 27, 2009

Labor Unions Compromising on Employee Free Choice?

Ohio: Cincinnati Rally for the Employee Free C...Image by aflcio2008 via Flickr

Unions and Card Check Compromise

Today's guest post is from employment labor attorney Eric B. Meyer. Eric is quite active on twitter, and shares a lot of information about the Employee Free Choice Act.


[This posting is for informational purposes and should not be construed or interpreted as either legal advice on any matter or as in any way creating an attorney/client relationship]

The Washington Post is reporting that Andy Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), is looking for alternatives to the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), also known as “card check.” Stern indicated that these “alternatives” would take the focus away from removing secret ballot union elections from employees who must decide whether to have a union represent them in the workplace.

Under present law, employers generally become unionized as a result of secret ballot elections in which employees vote on whether to accept a union as their collective bargaining agent. Under EFCA, the secret ballot election would effectively be eliminated as a union would become the collective bargaining representative for a group of employees provided that a majority of employees sign union cards that the employer never sees.

“We are on the hunt for a solution,” Stern told newspaper’s editorial board. “Whether it’s majority sign up or not.”

Following Senator Arlen Specter’s (PA-R) announcement last month that he would neither support EFCA nor vote to cut off debate on EFCA in order allow the Senate to take a vote on the bill, several centrist Senate Democrats have since voiced concerns over EFCA.

Stern also hinted that the card check bill presently before the Senate has some flaws. "We sort of have a bill that talks a lot about majority signup and nothing about the problems of the election system."

Stern further described the Employee Free Choice Act as not “a logical way to follow through now that we know ... what the situation is.”

While Stern is not optimistic that labor reform will come via the Employee Free Choice Act, employers should not be letting out a collective sigh of relief just yet. Organized labor advocates already have begun discussing alternatives to EFCA and put a lot of money into getting new labor legislation passed. Although many anticipate that the Democrats will have more power in the Senate in 2011, Stern hopes that Congress will pass some type of labor reform before then.

Therefore, is it important for employers now to be assessing vulnerability to unionization, while continuing to keep an eye on EFCA compromises that surface in the coming weeks and months.

Eric B. Meyer is a member of the Labor and Employment Group at Dilworth Paxson LLP. Readers can contact Mr. Meyer via e-mail and follow him on Twitter.

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1 comment:

  1. Thomas Adriaan HellingerApril 27, 2009 at 2:06 PM

    Bah! The Employee Free Choice Act does not take away the secret ballot option. One way the option is preserved is that a 30% minority can force a secret ballot, NLRB election through section 9(e) of the NLRA.

    All this bill does is take power away from employers, where it should have never been in the first place. The whole point of forming a union is to be on an equal plane with the company that is buying the workers' skill and labor. Giving the employer power to decide how a union is formed, and the ability to hinder their formation, destroys their entire purpose.

    I'm sick of all the lying that obscenely wealthy interests are using to kill something that can give the workingman a descent shot at a good life.


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