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Employee Free Choice Act

The so-called "Employee Free Choice Act" was defeated in a Senate vote in early 2007. The bill had strong support in the Democratic-controlled House, but was unable to muster the necessary support in the Senate. Organized labor is intent on supporting senatorial candidates who will support the bill so that its chances of passage will improve in the next Congress. Currently, the bill cannot pass through the Senate, nor can it override a promised presidential veto. A Democratic gain in Congress and a change in the White House can alter things considerably. It should be remembered that a very similar measure in 1978, the Labor Law Reform Act, passed the House, was supported by President Jimmy Carter, but lost in the Senate by one vote.

It has been well-reported that the central feature of the "Employee Free Choice Act" is that, instead of utilizing the NLRB secret ballot election processes, unions can gain exclusive bargaining rights by merely obtaining employee signatures on authorization cards. The prospects for fraud, abuse, and coercion are obvious in this process.

What hasn't been widely reported, however, are attempts by Congress to make the card-signing process more fair and reflective of true employee sentiments.

Some of these measures include:

An amendment put forward by Rep. Charles W. Boustany, Jr. (R.-La.), which would have made it an unfair labor practice charge for a union to fail to return a previously signed authorization card within five days of an employee's request. In other words, if an employee wanted to exercise their "free choice" by changing their mind and asking to get their card back, they would be allowed to do so. This proposed amendment did not make it into the bill.

An amendment by Rep. David Davis (R.-Tenn.) Would have required that penalties against employers who coerce employees during a card check campaign also apply to unions who coerce employees during a card check campaign. This proposed amendment didn't make it into the bill.

An amendment by Virginia Foxx (R.-N.C.) would have allowed employees to put themselves on a "do not call or contact" list in order to avoid union pressure and solicitations to sign a card in a card check organizing campaign. This amendment did not make it into the final bill.

An amendment by Rep. Steve King (R.-Iowa) would have allowed an employee to rescind his "card" authorization, and require that such request would be held in confidence in order to protect the employee from both coercion and possible retribution. This amendment did not make it to the final bill.

An amendment by Rep. John Kine (R.-Minn.) proposed an amendment which simply stated that if a union could be certified by way of a "card check," then a "card check" could also be used to decertify a union. This amendment did not make it into the final bill.

While those who have some knowledge of the realities of the workplace understand how drastically the "Employee Free Choice Act" can change the manner in which unions organize, the general public has no such understanding. Arguments like "this is the manner in which other industrialized countries organize" can be persuasive. Also, as with any piece of legislation, if enough "ear marks" are placed in the bill favoring key legislators, this bill can indeed be passed.

It is vitally important for your legislators to understand the magnitude of this proposed change. Contact them today and urge them to vote against this proposal.


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