The U.S. Senate is scheduled to consider one of the most significant changes to federal labor law in a generation.
The Senate is planning to vote on H.R. 800, the Employee Free Choice Act, during the week of June 18-22. This landmark legislation would enable unions to sidestep workers' current right to a federally-supervised, private ballot election and, instead, allow unions to collect a majority of signed authorization cards during union organizing drives.
Under the bill, if more than 50 percent of all workers sign an authorization card in favor of a labor organization -- a process known as "card check" -- the National Labor Relations Board must certify the union as the sole bargaining representative for the worksite. The bill would effectively make public the decision on whether or not to join a union that most employees make in private today. Additionally, the bill would forward any bargaining disputes on first contracts to binding arbitration after only 120 days.
SHRM opposes this legislation on the grounds that a private ballot best protects the privacy right of individual workers and the use of the card check process could promote a hostile work environment. Also, SHRM believes compulsory binding arbitration is unnecessary and could result in the imposition of unwanted employment conditions on employees and managers.
In March, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the bill by a vote of 241-185. Thus, the stakes are high for the Senate vote, which is expected to be close. SHRM members have the opportunity to express their opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act by using SHRM's HRVoiceletter-writing program.
For further information on the legislation, please contact SHRM Manager of Labor and Employment Legislation Michael Layman.