Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Prof. Matt Bodie (currently at Hofstra, but moving to Univ. of St. Louis), has an excellent post on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) over at PrawfsBlawg. The EFCA, of course, would require the NLRB to certify a union that obtained authorizations cards from a majority of employees, much like Canada does. However, this "card check" recognition is controversial. Indeed, one of the last legislative acts by Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.) before he died was to propose the Secret-Ballot Protection Act, which would prohibit an employer from voluntarily recognizing a union based on a card check. BNA's Daily Labor Report has an article (subscription required) today indicating that the legislative battle over EFCA will come down to whether Congress can override a presidential veto, so stay tuned.
As Matt notes in his post, the argument for the EFCA is to minimize the coercive nature of an election campaign, although he acknowledges that it would deprive employees some information about the costs of unionization. I'm generally in favor of EFCA, although I recognize that implementing the bill by itself has some problems. I'm not sympathetic to employer objections, however, because the law is currently titled heavily in their favor. Therefore, my ideal would be to include card-check recognition as part of a broader reform package that would strengthen penalties for campaign misconduct, while also making it somewhat easier for employees to decertify a union (as a former student of Sam Estreicher at NYU, I've often heard the mantra "easy-in/easy-out or hard-in/hard-out"). Of course, any significant modification of the NLRA is unlikely--I'd bet against the EFCA becoming law--much less a comprehensive change.