The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is a United States bill currently awaiting further debate by the Senate, having been passed by the House of Representatives in 2009 but failed to garner enough votes to sail through the Senate. Boasting of a strong Democrat and President Obama support, the bill seeks to introduce more stringent measures in ensuring the welfare of the employees is safeguarded by empowering labor unions.
Precisely, the bill seeks to deprive the employers of the current powers they wield in subjecting employees’ requests for unionization to the secret ballot. If passed and implemented, the bill will cast a sure death to this age-old practice by employers, and instead, employees will only need to have a simple majority card-check (Pepperman, 1). As such it does not come as a surprise that the bill has so far attracted numerous sentiments from various quarters, including union members.
In an attempt to discuss the impacts of the EFCA on employees’ quest for unionization this paper holds that EFCA does not only seek to make unionization easier but also seeks to streamline workplace squabbles between employers and their employees. Strengths of the Bill The proponents of the bill base their case on the fact that, joining a labor union for the average American, particularly those in the private sector is more difficult now than any other time due to the entrenched corruption during secret ballot voting.
In fact a study commissioned by the Center for Economic and Policy Research in 2007 found out that employees affiliated to unions are more victimized, with about one unionized employee being sacked in about 30 percent of union elections and a further 20 percent union supporting workers at the brink of loosing their jobs through sacking by their employers (Madland & Walter, 1). The EFCA allows employees to form or join a labor union after attaining a 50 percent card check without undergoing the hassles of conducting a secret ballot vote.
This core feature will ultimately empower the employees as it will eliminate cases of coercion and influence which are the hallmarks of the secret ballot regime. For instance, based on a research study by the University of Oregon it was found that the secret ballot was not in any case ‘secret’ as many employees are pressurized by the senior management to reveal their position regarding unionization. Such information is then used by the management to suppress any pro-union campaigns within an organization (Madland and Walter, 2).
In regards to the current unionization malpractices the EFCA seeks to impose heavy penalties on employers who engage in unlawful activities such as firing, spying, or even pressurizing their employees to drop pro-unions stances. Under the current law, employers are very powerful and tend to control the information their employees’ access, restrict their employees from joining and attending pro-union meetings, or even use their machinery to force their employees to subscribe to unions which are seemingly friendly to the employers.
With the 50 percent card check giving a direct authority to formation or even joining of labor unions, employees will no longer be under the mercies of the employers. More precisely the stringent penalties ($20, 000 per violation) that the bill provides will serve as a deterrent to employers who go against the new provisions for fair unionization. As a matter of fact, employers who do not show good faith during bargaining for better terms can be punished for that (Pepperman, 1).
Furthermore the proposed law will provide more time and opportunities for “productive first contract negotiations’ through the provision of a “mediation and arbitration option” (Madland & Walter, 1). This allows unions and employers who engages in first-time contract talks and fails to reach a consensus within the first 90 days to forward their case to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) for further bargaining and arbitration.
The exact time-frame that this further consultation should take can always be increased by either the union or the employer, a thing that increases the probability of striking a workable deal for the benefit of the employees. Currently, employers tend to engage in delaying tactics because they know that a failure to strike a deal within one year means fresh secret ballot that makes it hard for unions to win a reelection (Pepperman, 3-4). A balanced opinion on the EFCA is that it will lead to poverty reduction as well as boosting the economy.
According to a report by Center for American Progress, unionized workers will be given better terms of engagement hence increasing their purchasing power. Furthermore basing on University of California, Berkeley Professor Harley Shaiken arguments, it is true that workers who are members of labor unions tend to contribute more in the reduction of mismanagement cases by CEOs an indicator that income are utilized wisely (Madland & Walter, 1-2).
In extension when workers purchasing power is enhanced through increment in salaries and wages the looming poverty levels are greatly reduced, ultimately more revenue is created to jumpstart a seemingly dormant economy through new entrepreneurships. Lastly, contrary to what skeptics may argue the EFCA seeks to streamline the secret ballot voting and not killing it (Lehman, 2004).
By introducing the simple majority rule for the card-signing, the bill will not only afford the employees an opportunity to make a decision regarding unionization but will also make the process more fool-proof to management manipulations. After all, incase of a 30 percent sign-up vote, the employees will still be free to proceed with the secret ballot an indicator that the process is more flexible than ever before. Furthermore this system has already been tested and found to be successful in companies such AT &T, Inc. , United Parcel Service, Inc. , Dow Jones & Company (Madland and Walter, 4).