There is an elephant in the room. Should we talk about it or ignore it and hope it goes away?
Many employers utilize this approach when the rumblings of a union organizing campaign are heard. When EFCA becomes law, by the time the rumblings are heard, it may be too late to educate your workforce on the significance of signing a union authorization card. Employees may have already signed a card based on the promises by a union business agent.
An authorization card is a very innocuous looking form. It resembles a magazine subscription renewal, but it is a legal power of attorney that authorizes a union to act as the collective bargaining agent for the employee in negotiations with the employer. It also provides the union with data about the employee including his or her home address and telephone number so the union representatives can contact the employee or pay them a visit at home. The card typically asks for information about salary, department and type of work the employee performs. The NLRB and courts have compared secret ballot elections to "card checks" and noted there problems:
"Card checks are less reliable because they lack secrecy and procedural safeguards… union card-solicitation campaigns have been accompanied by misinformation… workers sometimes sign union authorization cards…to get the person off their back.”
There is no special mechanism in EFCA for employers to challenge the validity of the cards presented to show the union’s majority status. Traditionally, card challenges are unsuccessful unless an employer can show serious misconduct or intimidation.
Employees need to know the company’s position on unionization, including at least the following about signing union authorization cards:
- Employees have a right under the NLRA not to sign a card, not to support a union and to oppose unionization.
- After EFCA, signing a card can result in the unionization of the company without an election.
- Once an employee signs a card, he or she may not be able to get it back.
- Signing a card gives a union personal information that may be used to contact the employee later.