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Should Congress pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) eliminating the secret ballot in union organizing drives and requiring mandatory binding arbitration for union contracts?
EFCA would dramatically change union organizing, effectively cutting out an important step in the process by essentially eliminating the federally-overseen, secret ballot election and replacing it with a majority sign-up card check process. Should a majority of workers sign cards indicating their wish to unionize, a union must be recognized. In a card check campaign, signatures are made public to management, union officials, and co-workers alike. Additionally, the card check process is not a one-time event. Union organizers can continue to press for signatures on cards until a majority is reached, meaning a campaign could last months or even years. EFCA’s binding arbitration requirement could have a dramatic effect on the way companies operate. Currently, employers and unions must mutually agree to wages, benefits, and other terms and conditions, and the agreement is subject to approval by employees. Under EFCA, after a union is certified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the union and employer must begin first contract negotiations within 10 days. After 90 days, either party may notify the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) and request mediation. After 30 more days, an FMCS-appointed arbitration panel will determine the final contract. The decision of this Federal arbitration board will be binding upon both parties for two years.
Printing Industries of America Position
Printing Industries opposes all aspects of EFCA and is working in partnership with the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) to oppose the bill in Congress. The current secret ballot process works to protect employees from coercion by both union and management. A secret ballot allows all workers to have a say about whether or not to accept the union. Additionally, labor contracts are more than just wages and benefits-they completely control the day-to-day operations of a business. In a sense, EFCA’s arbitration rules will allow the federal government to install inflexible rules for any business for two years.
111th Congress and Obama Administration
EFCA was reintroduced in the House of Representatives as H.R. 1409, with 225 cosponsors, enough to pass the chamber easily. In the Senate however, the reintroduced bill, S. 560, received less support than in the previous Congress. The bill has no Republican cosponsors and more than 60 Senators have indicated that they will vote against consideration of the bill, effectively filibustering EFCA. President Obama has indicated his support for the bill, but has not made passage a priority for the administration.
Key Committees: Senate HELP; House Education and Labor
Printing Industries Advocacy
imPRINT Special Edition: Employee Free Choice Act
Policy Points for Printers – Employee Free Choice Act
CDW Letter to 111th Congress
CDW Ad “Union Members Oppose EFCA”
CDW Ad “Congress Uses Secret Ballot”
Policy and Research
Card Check in Other Countries
CDW Poll “Voters Oppose EFCA”
An Empirical Assessment of the Employee Free Choice Act: The Economic Implications by Dr. Anne Layne-Farrar
The Basics of Binding Arbitration
EFCA’s Mandatory Arbitration Provisions Deny Workers the Right to Participate in the Bargaining Process
Government Would Impose Wages and Union Contract Terms Without an Employee Vote Under EFCA
CDW News Page
Published on Thursday, May 14, 2009 (updated 03/13/2013)