Why the Employees Free Choice Act Must be Stopped

With Democrats in control of both Houses of Congress for the first time since 1994, a top priority will be to eliminate the right of employees to vote for or against unionization in secret ballot elections and to dictate unfair contract terms to employers.EFCA has passed the House by a margin of 241-185 and is now in the hands of Ted Kennedy in Senate.A vote on EFCA could take place any day. President Bush has threatened a veto if EFCA should reach his desk.

What EFCA Would Do

There are three main components of EFCA. The central feature of the bill would outlaw secret ballot elections by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) among employees to decide whether to be represented by a union. Instead, the EFCA would permit unions to inveigle employees to sign authorization cards agreeing to labor representation in front of union agents. Second, the bill would give unions the power to invoke outside arbitration to gain a first contract, abandoning the American tradition of letting the parties settle their differences through good faith collective-bargaining. In other words, Business owners would suddenly have no one to negotiate on first contracts they could be removed from the Bargaining process and forced to accept due to EFCA an outside arbitration process without their input and the one sided and unfair employment contracts with the unions that this would imply. Third, the bill would increase penalties against employers for certain labor law violations, requiring reimbursement three times the amount of wages lost by an employee and imposing civil fines of as much as $20,000 per incident, yet would not levy harsher sanctions for union misconduct.

Why Authorization Cards Cannot Substitute for a Secret Ballot Election

* Authorization cards are inherently far less reliable because they require employees to make a public rather than a confidential decision about unionization, thus subjecting them to peer pressure, harassment, coercion, and misrepresentation. One study showed 18% of employees who sign cards don’t want the union.

* Unions can obtain commitments from employees without the employer’s knowledge and thus gain representative status before the employer is able to make a case as to why unionization is not in the workers’ best interest.

Key Union Arguments in Favor of EFCA and Why They are False

NLRB election processes are too slow. According to NLRB statistics, in FY 2005, the median time between a union’s petition for a representation election and the holding of the election was only 38 days, and 94.2% of all elections were conducted within 56 days of a petition.

Employers engage in massive illegal conduct to defeat unions, discriminating against 20,000 employees per year, and the NLRB is too slow respond. In FY 2005, the NLRB reports that it issued complaints of unlawful conduct against employers in only 1,160 cases – a ten year low – and ordered only 2,842 employees reinstated. In FY 2005, 97.2% of cases having merit were promptly settled; the median length of time to issue complaints in other cases was only 95 days.

It is too hard for unions to get initial contracts with employers. Employers are already required, under penalty of law, to bargain with unions in good faith. Employers should not be forced to submit to onerous terms imposed by a third party that may jeopardize jobs and profitability.

Will Fine is Executive Director of The National Alliance for Worker and Employer Right. Read other articles by Will, or visit Will's website.

2 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Randy d Hooton said on May 10th, 2007 at 2:10pm #

    You have no idea what your talking about (I’m being civil) unless you and anyone else in your gang have ever been through a corperate funded anti-union campaigne to kill collective bargaining for workers.
    I don’t have enough patience or time to tell my story about the HELL! my employer put me through under the current process.
    Stop hideing behind the B/S about the end to secret ballot elections and the smoke and mirrors of the Chamber of Corruptions propaganda.
    Congress must and will pass the Employees Free Choice Act to restore and maintaine the MIDDLE CLASS.

  2. Jeff said on May 26th, 2007 at 7:30pm #

    Randy, if you disagree with the article, please provide a more explanative rebuttal than “You have no idea what your talking about”.