The proposed Employee Free Choice Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on March 1 of this year, has apparently been defeated in the U.S. Senate. On June 26, 2007, senators voted 51-48 on a “Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to Consider H.R. 800.” Because 60 votes are necessary to proceed with Senate consideration, the bill will likely not be taken up again this year.

The union-backed Employee Free Choice Act would have made it easier for unions to organize new members. It would have required the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to certify a union as the representative of a company’s employees if the union presented signatures from over 50% of the employees in an appropriate bargaining unit. Under current law, an employer is not required to bargain with a union unless the NLRB has certified the results of a government-run secret ballot election.

The bill also would have required mediation and binding interest arbitration for first contracts after specified time periods had elapsed with no agreement between a company and a union. It also would have imposed stiffer sanctions against employers for certain unfair labor practices.

Although additional Senate proceedings are procedurally possible, it seems unlikely that the Senate leadership will choose to spend additional time on an idea that will not pass under the Senate's current configuration.

The Labor & Employment and Government Relations Teams at Kilpatrick Stockton LLP have been reporting on developments related to this proposed legislation on a blog entitled EFCA Updates (www.efcaupdates.com ). Additional information about the bill is available there, and the site will be updated regularly over the next few weeks as labor’s new strategies become increasingly clear.