Friday, December 13, 2013
Sam Estreicher (NYU) has brought to our attention a draft of a paper, emanating from the text of his remarks at the University of Minnesota Law Review Symposium on the Future of Organized Labor this past fall, entitled: Easy In, Easy Out: A Future for U.S. Workplace Representation.
Here is the Introduction:
This paper proposes an amendment to our basic labor laws that I call “easy in, easy out.” Essentially, representation elections—secret-ballot votes to decide whether employees want union representation and whether they want to be represented by the particular petitioning labor organization(s)—in relatively broad units, would, over time, become automatic. Every two years (unless the union achieved a collective bargaining agreement, in which case every three years) the employees in the unit would have, after a required showing of interest, an opportunity to vote in a secret ballot whether they wish to continue the union’s representation, select another organization, or have no union representation at all. Petitioning labor organizations and employers would be required to share certain specified information, in electronic form, with the voting employees. The theory is to make representation elections more like general political elections, to make it easier to vote in a union (if that is the employees’ preference), and to vote the union out if the employees no longer believe the bargaining agent is accountable to them or worth the dues they pay. Other aspects of the labor laws would continue unchanged.
This is clearly a provocative proposal and one that is likely to have supporters and detractors alike. For his part, Sam does admit this is somewhat of a quixotic enterprise, given the current state of American labor law. Nevertheless, the paper offers an interesting mixture of labor law theory, comparative analysis, and out-of-the-box thinking, and all should give it a read.