This article received contributions from all of the EFCA & Labor Law Reform Blog authors.
U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) pulled the curtains off of his revised version of the Employee Free Choice Act during the September 15 session of the AFL-CIO convention. He announced that his version, which he claims will “be totally satisfactory to labor,” will pass Congress this year.
Specter’s version of EFCA does not include the “card check” provision of the original EFCA bill. That provision would require the Labor Board to certify a union anytime it receives signed cards from a simple majority of eligible voters—thus, effectively eliminating the secret ballot election. Instead, Specter would provide for “quickie elections” where the time between the filing of a petition and the date an election is held is reduced significantly from the current period of about 42 days. Specter has not yet disclosed the exact length of time his bill would establish. Some have said it could be less than 15 days. Additionally, the Specter bill would give unions the right to access an employer’s facility if an employer holds mandatory meetings regarding the union election on company time. Specter’s EFCA also would increase employer liability for violations of the National Labor Relations Act to an amount triple that which the Act currently provides.
The mandatory interest arbitration also is revised. The Specter bill still calls for mandatory arbitration for first contracts, but frames the process as “baseball style” arbitration. Under this process, the arbitrator reviews the “last best offer” from the employer and the union and chooses one. Don’t let the term “baseball arbitration” conjure up positive images of America’s pastime. Baseball style arbitration is nothing more than a form of interest arbitration where terms and conditions of employment unacceptable to the owner of a business are imposed upon that employer by a government arbitrator.
Interestingly, during the convention, Senator Specter seemed to imply that incoming AFL-CIO president, Richard Trumka, signed off on his new EFCA bill. However, Trumka has vigorously denied this and insists that the full and original version of EFCA is still on the table and is the version of the bill that he demands be passed.
Let us know your thoughts.