Employee Free Choice Act Introduced Today In Congress

March 10, 2009

Over the past several months, we have discussed the proposed Employee Free Choice Act (“EFCA”) (see 8/21/08 news item) and have updated you with any developments in the potential passage of the bill (see 2/19/09 news item).

Today, amid signs that some moderate Senate Democrats and Republican Senator Arlen Specter are reconsidering their earlier support, EFCA was re-introduced in Congress. As our earlier articles detail, EFCA previously had been introduced in the 109th Congress in the winter of 2007. At that time, it passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate before dying after then-President Bush announced that he would veto the legislation. As expected, the proposed EFCA legislation re-introduced today mirrors its earlier incarnation.

EFCA proposes to significantly alter the nation’s labor laws. Among other things, it seeks to:

  1. Eliminate employees’ right to vote on unionization in “secret” / closed ballot elections by forcing employers to recognize a union if that union obtains signed authorization cards from a majority of workers in the proposed bargaining unit;
  2. Mandate mediation and binding arbitration of first contracts when the employer and the union cannot agree to terms of a collective bargaining agreement within certain limited deadlines; and
  3. Impose punitive penalties on employers for unfair labor practices.

The bill’s introduction merely starts the process. We expect months of political maneuvering, heated debate, and intense lobbying from both the unions and business interests. We will continue to keep you updated as developments occur. Until then, please contact any member of the McGuireWoods Labor & Employment team.