Sometimes a wait and see approach is the right call when it comes to proposed legislation, but not for nonunion employers facing the possible passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). EFCA will radically change the way unions organize employers by eliminating the “campaign” phase and secret ballot election that have been the hallmark of industrial relations since the inception of the NLRA in 1935.
Under EFCA, a union can organize an employer based simply on a majority card showing. The following actions will place an employer in much better position should EFCA become law:
- Educate your managers and supervisors now, not only on the card-signing process itself, but more broadly as to why unionization may be anachronistic in the 21st Century workplace.
- Audit your current HR practices and make improvements before the union is on the scene (as it may be an unfair labor practice to do so after the union begins contacting your employees).
- Make sure your employees have a recognized channel for bringing their concerns to management, a way they can "let off steam." (If not, your claim later that they don’t need a union to represent them may fall on deaf ears.)
- Make sure your supervisors are consistently administering disciplinary policies in a non-discriminatory equitable fashion.
- Train your managers and supervisors on what they can and cannot say during an organizing campaign, and maybe more importantly, what they should be saying if the union shows up.
- Review your policies on solicitation, distribution of literature, bulletin board postings, and employee use of e-mail, while necessary changes can still be made. Again, if you wait until the union is on the scene to tweak, you will be committing an unfair labor practice.
- Review your wage and benefit structures. If you’re not competitive in your industry or geographical area, the union will seek to exploit this in suggesting to your employees they need union representation.
Most experts believe EFCA is likely to be enacted in 2009. Presidential candidate John McCain opposes EFCA and submitted a statement to the Congressional Record on June 26, 2007 in which he stated as follows:
I am strongly opposed to H.R. 800, the so-called “Employee Free Choice Act of 2007.” Not only is the bill’s title deceptive, the enactment of such an ill-conceived legislative measure would be a gross deception to the hard working Americans who would fall victim to it.
Barak Obama has repeatedly advocated its passage and has the following position statement on his website:
The current process for organizing a workplace denies too many workers the ability to exercise their right to do so. The Employee Free Choice Act will allow workers to form a union through majority sign up and card checks, and strengthen penalties for those employers who are in violation. The choice to organize should be left up to workers and workers alone. It should be their free choice.
Organized labor will be pushing hard for EFCA, and if there is a Democratic Administration and Congress, passage of EFCA would be a virtual certainty. As noted by Kris Dunn this is The Hidden Career Killer for HR Pros unless you act now.