Labor lawyers warn employers about EFCA

More EFCA stories: here

Forcing unwanted unions on workers would damage job market

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) of 2007, if passed, would result in the most sweeping changes in federal labor law since the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was enacted in 1935, according to Littler Mendelson (Littler), the nation’s largest employment and labor law firm representing management. Passage of the EFCA hangs in large part on this year’s presidential election; therefore, voters should carefully consider its implications as the controversial legislation will endanger one of this country’s founding principles—democracy.

By changing the law and making it easier for employees to unionize, the EFCA would not only strip workers of their right to vote, it would also disrupt the balance of power between employers and unions in favor of organized labor. Senator Barack Obama, who vowed to pass the EFCA if elected, is an original co-sponsor of the bill, while Senator John McCain is strongly opposed to the EFCA and voted to block its continuance in the House.

The EFCA is designed to make union organization easier. It would amend the NLRA by replacing government-supervised, secret ballot elections with a “card-check” process that only requires unions to obtain authorization cards signed by the majority of employees; by requiring mandatory interest arbitration if an employer and a newly certified union are unable to reach a first contract within a specific number of days; and by imposing significant financial penalties for unfair labor practices committed by employers during organizing campaigns and first contract negotiations, but no financial penalties on unions for coercing or misleading employees to obtain authorization cards.

“As a law firm and leader in the employment and labor arena, Littler is deeply committed to the NLRA and its functions related to employers, employees and unions,” said Robert Battista, attorney in the Labor Management Relations Practice Group at Littler and former Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency created by Congress to administer the NLRA. “Unfortunately, we feel the EFCA will do serious harm to the principles of free debate and free choice that are now protected by the NLRA.”

Battista urges employers to educate themselves on the EFCA and its potential ramifications and to consider taking immediate action against passage of the legislation. He offers the following steps for employers concerned about the impact that the EFCA would have on them:
* Encourage trade associations and other organizations to engage in lobbying and education efforts regarding the EFCA. Many organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace have campaigns well underway to defeat or modify the EFCA and have posted information about these campaigns on their Web sites

* Let their representatives and senators know that they oppose the bill. Employers can learn how their representatives voted on the EFCA in 2007 through the Web site for the Library of Congress, and use this information to express their support or disappointment

* Communicate their position on this issue to candidates running for House and Senate positions in the 2008 elections, and let them know that their position on this important legislation may influence the way in which employers vote

* Draft letters to the editors of local newspapers and find other opportunities to promote public awareness of the impact the EFCA would have
Battista contends that an alternate way of dealing with the EFCA is its amendment so that a more palatable version is ultimately enacted into law. Including safeguards to balance the potential for union abuse of the “card-check” procedure, and removing the binding arbitration provision, would likely result in a bill that could be more easily tolerated by most employers.

To speak with Robert Battista, attorney in the Labor Management Relations Practice Group at Littler and former Chairman of NLRB, about the EFCA, please contact Jenn Myres at (619) 234-0345 or myres@formulapr.com.

About Littler Mendelson

With more than 700 attorneys and 45 offices in major metropolitan areas nationwide, Littler Mendelson is the largest law firm in the United States devoted exclusively to representing management in employment, employee benefits and labor law matters. The firm’s client base ranges from Fortune 500 companies to small-business owners. Established in 1942, the firm has litigated, mediated and negotiated some of the most influential cases and labor contracts in the nation's history. For more information, visit www.littler.com.


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