The chatter surrounding EFCA, or the Employee Free Choice Act, quieted down in mid-December, but EFCA is back in the news.

Yesterday, President Obama’s nominee for his administration’s Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis, was confirmed by the Senate. Secretary Solis was a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act when she was serving as a congresswoman from California. (See our prior post on Secretary Solis here.)  

Today was also a big day for EFCA-watchers. Economists organized by the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank, signed a public statement lauding the benefits of EFCA, which they claim would even the playing field between employers and workers in union organizing campaigns. The statement claims that the enactment of EFCA is “a critically important step in rebuilding our economy and strengthening our democracy.” Click here to see the statement in its entirety.

In an attempt to support the rights of employers and of employees who would value the chance to vote in a secret-ballot election, Republicans proposed the Secret Ballot Protection Act (SBPA) today as well. Previously introduced as S. 1312 and H.R. 866 in 2007, the SBPA is a preemptive strike against EFCA. SBPA would amend the National Labor Relations Act so that employers may not recognize or bargain with a union that has not been selected by a majority of employees in a secret ballot election administered by the National Labor Relations Board. Any employer who did recognize or bargain with a union that had not won a secret-ballot election of employees would be guilty of an unfair labor practice. The SBPA would also hold unions accountable for causing or attempting to cause an employer to recognize or bargain with a union that had not been democratically elected by employees.

The SBPA is simply unlikely to pass—it has just 101 co-sponsors in the House and 16 in the Senate—but the bill’s re-introduction will help ensure that the debate about EFCA, both in Congress and in the media, remains two-sided.