The New York Times reported today that several key United States senators friendly to labor have agreed to drop the controversial “card check” provision from the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). Instead, they will propose a requirement that a union election would have to be held by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) within 5 to 10 days after a union submits a petition for an election to the NLRB supported by the required number of employee authorization cards (i.e., cards signed by 30% or more of the employees in the proposed bargaining unit). Under the current law, elections are typically held within 5 to 6 weeks after a union files a petition for an election. The time period before the election can be used by an employer to educate employees about the union and the advantages of remaining union-free. A provision requiring an expedited election would severely limit an employer’s ability to mount a campaign against the union.
It was also reported that the senators are considering several additional union-friendly measures. One would require companies to provide union organizers access to company property. Another measure under consideration would bar employers from requiring workers to attend anti-union meetings (referred to as “captive audience” meetings).
The status of other controversial portions of EFCA, such as a specific time frame for negotiating the first contract, binding arbitration of unresolved issues, and increased penalties for certain employer unfair labor practices, is still up in the air. We will follow these developments and update you as information becomes available.