S. 1041, The Employee Free Choice Act of 2007
- This item is from the 110th Congress (2007-2008) and is no longer current. Comments, voting, and wiki editing have been disabled, and the cost/savings estimate has been frozen.
Version saved on May 23, 2007, 13:43:52, by NAWER:
S. 1041 would amend the National Labor Relations Act to establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, and it would provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts.
Employee Free Choice Act of 2007- Amends the National Labor Relations Act to require the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to certify a bargaining representative without directing an election if a majority of the bargaining unit employees have authorized designation of the representative (card-check) and there is no other individual or labor organization currently certified or recognized as the exclusive representative of any of the employees in the unit.
Sets forth special procedural requirements for reaching an initial collective bargaining agreement following certification or recognition.
Revises enforcement requirements with respect to unfair labor practices during union organizing drives, particularly a preliminary investigation of an alleged unfair labor practice (ULP) which may lead to proceedings for injunctive relief.
Requires that priority be given to a preliminary investigation of any charge that, while employees were seeking representation by a labor organization, or during the period after a labor organization was recognized as a representative until the first collective bargaining contract is entered into, an employer: (1) discharged or otherwise discriminated against an employee to encourage or discourage membership in the labor organization; (2) threatened to discharge or to otherwise discriminate against an employee in order to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of guaranteed self-organization or collective bardaining rights; or (3) engaged in any other related ULP that significantly interferes with, restrains, or coerces employees in the exercise of such guaranteed rights.
Adds to remedies for such violations: (1) back pay plus liquidated damages; and (2) additional civil penalties.
Status of the Legislation
Latest Major Action: 3/29/2007: Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Points in Favor
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TOP PRIORITY FOR NEW DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS: END SECRET BALLOT ELECTIONS TO DECIDE UNION REPRESENTATION AND FORCE UNFAIR CONTRACT TERMS ON EMPLOYERS
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 contract terms to employers.
In the last Congress, unions and their legislative allies, pushed a brazenly misnamed bill, âThe Employee Free Choice Actâ (EFCA), whose perverse goal is to deprive employees of free choice about union representation and to intimidate employers. Amazingly, in a Republican-controlled Congress, Big Labor found 215 sponsors for this legislation (including 14 Republicans) in the House, just short of the 218 needed for passage; in the Senate, they signed up 44 sponsors, just 7 short of a majority. New House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has promised to place a newly introduced EFCA bill on the floor this spring calling it a âHigh priorityâ for Democrats.
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 âauthorization cardsâ 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 âfirst contractsâ they would 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 donât want the union.
- Unions can obtain commitments from employees without the employerâs knowledge and thus gain representative status before the employer is able to make a case as to why unionization is not in the workersâ 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 unionâs 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 â 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.