Comments made earlier this week by Congressional aides and organized labor suggest that the business community’s vocal and organized opposition to the controversial Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) (Water Cooler March 09' ) has achieved one of the desired goals -- slowing down the rush of the Democratic leadership and organized labor to bring the proposed legislation up for a vote. The ultimate goal of the business community – to kill the proposed legislation altogether – is still a work in progress.
According to a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), EFCA has been put on hold for the time being in favor of three more important pieces of legislation: health care reform, energy, and banking and financial regulatory reform. A spokesman for Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who is shepherding EFCA in the Senate, echoed this assessment. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney announced his support for the Congressional decision to tackle the issue of health care before taking up EFCA.
Some observers believe that EFCA and other labor reform legislation might be delayed until 2010 or beyond. Regardless of the timing, there is speculation that the much publicized “card check” provision will likely be removed from any legislation considered (07-17-09 E-alert EFCA update ). Instead of card check, many believe that the Democrats will propose compromise labor reform including faster elections and stiffer penalties for employer violations of the National Labor Relations Act. However, even if acceptable compromises could be forged on these issues, it is likely that the business community will continue to adamantly oppose the equally controversial EFCA provision that would require mandatory arbitration to establish the first contract if the union and the company cannot reach a negotiated agreement on employee wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment.