Employee Free Choice Act, employers (union and non-union) must be prepared

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), also known as the “Card Check bill” has been the top priority of unions throughout this election year. If passed, the EFCA will amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by removing previous barriers to union organizing.

President elect Barack Obama was a co-sponsor of the bill while a senator and has said that he will sign it into law if the legislation comes across his desk.

If Obama signs the EFCA, it would result in the most “sweeping” changes to the NLRA in the past 40 years. Union and non-union employers must be prepared for this law, which will make it easier for workplaces to unionize and will likely lead to a spike in union organizing activity, according to Mark Mathiason of the Gray Plant Mooty law firm.

In a recent Human Resources Executive Online article, Garry Mathiason, partner and vice chair of Littler Mendelson in San Francisco, advised:

The 2009 agenda for HR professionals must assume EFCA in some form will become law. In anticipation, employers should consider auditing conditions to determine whether they would support an organizing drive; monitoring union-organizing activities within the industry or geographical location; training management about rules associated with union organizing, potentially providing employees with information and arguments about union representation when organizing activity is anticipated and -- in some highly targeted industries -- even before receiving evidence of organizing activity; and, most of all, reviewing overall employment conditions to ensure they are competitive and the needs of employees are being addressed.

The EFCA would amend the NLRA in three major areas:

  1. The EFCA would require the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to recognize a labor union through authorization cards signed by a majority of employees, without the benefit of a government-supervised, secret-ballot election.
  2. It would also require arbitration if an employer and a newly certified union are unable to reach an agreement on an initial contract in a timely fashion.
  3. The new law would create significant penalties for remedying employer unfair labor practices. Such penalties would apply during any period when unions are organizing and during negotiations of a first contract.

The G.Neil labor law team will continue to watch the EFCA as President elect Obama prepares to take office in January. Check back regularly for the most up-to-date information to help your business take action and stay in compliance.

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