Ask Sheri

EFCA Update

Mar 17th, 2016

I haven't heard any recent updates regarding the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Is there still potential for its passing in 2009? Our organization was targeted many years ago by the UFCW and I'm curious if the organizers will soon be lurking around again. Our policies are sound and our overall employee population seems satisfied, mostly because they still retain jobs in this economy. Any advice or EFCA clarification is appreciated.

Sheri's Response

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is still alive and well in Washington. On March 10, 2009, senators Harkin (D-IL) and Kennedy (D-MA), along with Congressman Miller (D-CA) re-introduced the EFCA to the 111th Congress. The text of the 2009 bill is virtually identical to the 2007 EFCA legislation passed by the House (but then narrowly defeated in the Senate), when pro-labor legislators lacked the votes to close a threatened Republican filibuster of the bill. Although the bill should easily pass the House of Representatives, it may face opposition in the Senate. Education efforts by employers and pro-employer groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Associated Builders and Contractors, the Coalition for A Democratic Workplace and others, has prompted several Democratic senators who supported the bill in 2007 to reconsider their position. The obvious debate in the senate will be the provision to eliminate secret ballot election, in favor of card-check recognition. One such compromise will be to "fast-track" the election process, by offering a secret ballot process within 5-14 days of petition filing.

With your previous UFCW encounter, I would highly recommend you institute a two-pronged, proactive union-avoidance strategy: first, you need to educate your leadership team regarding the upcoming EFCA and what this may mean for both leaders and employers nationwide. Secondly, you should be conducting brief vulnerability assessments to determine just how 'satisfied' your employees are. I understand their reluctance to leave your organization or even lodge complaints during these tough economic times, however once our economy turns, you want to ensure your organization remains in the best position to thrwart off any union attack.

It is almost certain the EFCA will pass in 2009, the variable is in "which form". On January 30, 2009, President Obama signed three pro-labor executive orders, which in my opinion, highlight the shape of things to come. One final thought might be to institute an Issue Free Task Force within your business, which can begin the initial preparations for the EFCA passage. And remember, a union organizer is only interested in one thing: obtaining additional dues-paying members and with this charge, even the most employee-friendly employer is vulnerable.