The Employee Free Choice Act represents the most dramatic potential change to U.S. labor law in nearly 75 years. If enacted, the legislation would allow unions to sidestep employees' current right to vote in a private, Federal government-supervised election during organizing campaigns.
The legislation would amend the by the National Labor Relations Act to guarantee the right to unions to represent employee units if the union simply collects signed authorization cards from fifty percent-plus-one of employees in a bargaining jurisdiction -- a process known as "card check" -- during a union organizing effort. Under EFCA, unions would have no incentive to give employees the chance to vote in a secure, private representation election.
After gaining certification, the union and employer would be allowed only a 130-day period to negotiate and mediate a contract governing all employment terms and conditions. If an agreement could not be reached during this very short time period, a federal arbitration board would be required to establish a mandatory two-year contract that would be binding on both labor and management.
In voicing its opposition to this measure, SHRM argued that a private ballot election is the best way to protect the privacy of individual workers to vote their conscience on whether to join a union. Moreover, SHRM conveyed that HR professionals, management and employees would have little ability to shape the terms of workplace contracts if mandatory binding interest arbitration is enacted. Thus, the Employee Free Choice Act would take away employees’ voice in the workplace TWICE – by taking away employees’ right to a private vote on unionization and disallowing employees a chance to ratify new union contracts.
In 2009, SHRM members have sent over 40,000 letters to Congress to express their opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act. The legislation has remained stalled because senators have not produced enough support for EFCA to defeat a filibuster (60 votes required).
In the previous 110th Congress, SHRM members also flooded Congress with thousands of letters. Consequently, the U.S. Senate voted not to consider the Employee Free Choice Act in 2007. The bill had previously passed the House by a vote of 241 to 185.