"Card Check" Update
March 26, 2009
Key Senator Opposes Elimination of Secret Ballot and Union Representation Elections and Mandated Arbitration of Labor Agreements
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) just announced he opposes the Employee "Free" Choice Act (EFCA) in its present form. There has been much speculation about Specter's intentions as he has supported the Employee Free Choice Act in previous months and years. In fact, when the EFCA was introduced in "03, Specter was the only Republican Senator who voted for cloture, a motion to end debate and immediately bring the Act to the floor for a vote.
With Democratic gains in the Senate as a result of the 2008 election, Specter's continued support of the Act has been viewed by labor and the Democrats as essential. In fact, assuming Senators' position as they appear now, "The decisive vote would be mine," Specter said. The Senator's decision to cast vote against cloture in its current form would be the first step in defeating the EFCA in its current form.
However, in opposing EFCA, Specter made it clear that he favors labor reform and will more than likely become a sponsor of such legislation. He favors amendments to the NLRA (National Labor Relations Act) that would foster union organizing, make employer communications to employees on representation issues more difficult and increase penalties on employers for violations. Specter went so far as to indicate that he would reconsider his position on EFCA once the economy improved if amendments to the NLRA strengthening union bargaining power were not made.
Specter's words were backed by action to include introducing an "appendix" entitled, "Some Suggested Revisions to the National Labor Relations Act."
• Requiring elections to be held within 10 days from filing a petition; a contested election to be held within 21 days; and extraordinary complex election to be held within 35 days. Currently, we normally have a 45 day election period to campaign. A 10 day timeframe would greatly reduce management's ability to "set the record straight" of what would have been months and even years of campaigning (card signing) by the union.
• Adding unfair labor practices including:
Removing home visits without consent.
Forbidding employers from conducting captive audience speeches unless the union is given "equal time."
Prohibiting campaign activity within the last 24 hour period before the election.
• Enhancing NLRB remedies and failure to bargain cases:
Requiring the union and employer to begin negotiations within 21 days after a union is certified and to participate in mediation after 120 days of bargaining. This mediation mandate will greatly pressure employers to "bow" to the union as mediation will be deemed as mandated contracts.
Upon founding of bad faith bargaining, the establishment of a schedule for negotiation and requiring reimbursement for cost and attorney fees. Again, another step to expedite and force contracts.
• Imposing trouble damages including back pay when an employee is unlawfully fired and authorizing additional civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation.
Specter's announcement, may for the time being, end debate over EFCA as in its current form. However, the Senator's proposal will not be the last word on the subject. It is apparent that pressure from employers, constituents and other groups have "enlightened" Specter on the EFCA. However, it is also apparent that Specter is continuing his pro-labor support and threatening support of the EFCA if amendments to the NLRA strengthening union activity are not made.
SESCO will continually monitor Specter's "amendments" and suggest, that although his current lack of support of the EFCA in its current form, employers, business groups and his constituents continue to place pressure on his amendments and support of big labor that would undo over 60 years of carefully crafted labor law that has ensured a fair balance for both unions and employees.