The Employee Free Choice Act- introduced to congress on March 10, 2009, is an update to the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. Under the new proposed litigation, employees will have more freedom in deciding whether they will join a union and according to the AFL-CIO  would “would enable working people to bargain for better benefits, wages and working conditions.”

Currently, under the Labor Relations Act, employees wishing to form a labor union must follow the check card process. This process consists of gaining blank cards from an existing union which must then be signed by employees. Once 30% of the cards are signed in favor of the union they must be presented to the employer at which point the employer can decide to hold a secret bailout on the unionization. Under the reformed Employee Free Choice Act the National Labor Relations Board will be required to certify the labor union without an election if the majority of employees sign. However, a secret bailout can still be held if requested by 30% of the employees.

Proponents of the Employee Free Choice Act believe the amended labor union rights will give employees more freedom by preventing corporations from blocking union organization attempts, providing more support during arbitration, and removing the fear of job security employees wishing to start a union may feel. The bill, if passed, may hold up to these claims. By allowing a more direct path to unionization, the EFCA will reduce the impact of employers on the decision. The bill also includes litigation to allow employers and union leaders to seek dispute resolution on their first contract from Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service if no agreement has been reached. The Employee Free Choice Act also raises the bar on civil penalties by requiring the National Labor Relations Board to seek civil punishment whenever there is just cause an employer has taken action against an employee seeking to form a labor union.

The Employee Free Choice Act has gained steam fast in congress. Not only has the bill been strongly supported by President Obama and several bipartisan organizations, as well as the majority of democrats in congress a recent poll shows that the majority of US citizens are in favor of the proposed changes. The Gallup pole held March 14th and 15th showed 53 percent in favor of passing the act.

While the act carries strong support it also has a strong opposition and the race will undoubtedly be a close one. It may be too early to tell; however, with the presidential pull we should see a resolution to the Employee Free Choice Act later this year.

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