Our Client Update from June 7, 2007 reported on the implications of the so-called Employee Free Choice Act, which had passed in the House of Representatives by a wide margin. On June 26, supporters of the EFCA in the Senate fell nine votes short of the 60 needed to limit Senate debate and permit the bill to proceed to a vote on the Senate floor. Although a majority of Senators indicated support for the bill, the cloture vote effectively killed the bill in this Congress and averted a threatened veto by President Bush.
The controversial EFCA, which evoked both strong support from organized labor and vehement opposition from business, would have eliminated the secret ballot election as the vehicle for choosing union representation and, instead, would have given workers the option of gaining union representation by signing authorization cards. The EFCA also would have required mediation and arbitration for new collective bargaining agreements if the parties failed to reach agreement in 90 days and tougher penalties on employers for unfair labor practices committed during an organizing campaign or during bargaining of a first contract Union efforts to push for this legislation are not over. The AFL-CIO will raise the issue of “employee free choice” in the 2008 elections and will urge Congress to bring the bill back after the 2008 elections. In the meantime, unions will continue their aggressive organizing efforts through traditional means as well as corporate campaigns.