It’s official: The much-anticipated (and much-feared by many employers) Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) has been introduced to both houses of Congress.
If passed, the EFCA will increase the power of unions in the workplace. Here’s a rundown of its main provisions:
- Card check authorization — Under the EFCA, unions can be approved as long as more than 50% of employees sign authorization cards. In other words, no more secret ballots — some say that might allow employees to be bullied by union representatives.
- Mandatory arbitration — If a union is certified through a card check, employers will have 10 days to start bargaining with the union. If an agreement isn’t reached in 120 days, the negotiation will be referred to a federal arbitrator who’ll decide any contract issues that still aren’t agreed on — such as pay, benefits, hours, etc. Negotiations often take more than 120 days — therefore, arbitrators will likely have greater influence under the EFCA than they currently do.
- Increased penalties — Currently, employers are only held liable for back pay if they’re found to have unlawfully fired pro-union employees. The EFCA would add liquidated damages up to two times an employee’s back pay, as well as a $20,000 penalty if a court finds a violation was willful or repetitive.
Supporters of the EFCA are confident the bill will be successful.
Last year, the EFCA passed the House, but failed to gather 60 supporters to block the filibuster in the Senate. Some experts say the increased Democrat majority and President Obama’s influence make the bill likely to pass.
We’ll keep you posted.