Employee Free Choice Act
The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is legislation in the United States which aims to “amend the National Labor Relations Act to establish an easier system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and for other purposes.” Under current labor law, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board will certify a union as the exclusive representative of employees if it is elected by either a majority signature drive, the card check process, or by secret ballot NLRB election, which is held if more than 30% of employees in a bargaining unit sign statements asking for representation by a union. If enacted, this bill would require the NLRB to certify a bargaining representative without directing an election if a majority of the bargaining unit employees signed cards, the card check process.
Pursuant to the bill, a union can demand that an employer begin bargaining within ten days of certification of the union as the exclusive bargaining representative for an appropriate unit of employees via the card check. In addition, if the union and employer cannot agree upon the terms of a first collective bargaining contract within ninety days, either party can request federal mediation, which could lead to binding arbitration if an agreement still cannot be reached after thirty days of mediation. Where government arbitration determines terms of the agreement, employees would lose their current right to ratify the terms of the agreement. Finally, the Act would provide for liquidated damages of three times back pay if employers were found to have unlawfully terminated pro-union employees. The EFCA also would impose a $20,000 penalty upon employers for each employer violation of the proposed legislation if the NLRB and/or a court deems the violation willful or repetitive.
On March 1, 2007, the House of Representatives passed the act by a vote of 241 to 185. The Senate on June 26, 2007 voted 51 to 48 on a motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to consider the bill. The bill failed to pass during the 110th United States Congress because of the 60 votes required to enforce cloture, which may be possible to obtain in the 111th United States Congress.