Dec 7, 2008

What Exactly is EFCA?

There’s a lot of talk about the Employee Free Choice Act these days. If you’ve heard about it in the news, you’ve probably also heard the words “secret ballot,” “majority sign-up,” or “card check.” These words are an important part of what this legislation hopes to do for workers. But there are other exciting parts of the Act as well. Here we lay out the basic idea of the Act so you can decide for yourself what you think about it.

1) The first major component of EFCA allows unions to form when the majority of workers sign cards in support of the union.

Right now unions generally start with this card signing process, but then they have an election. The main problem with this election is that it often occurs months or even years after the initial card sign-up. During this time the employers do all they can to frighten workers away from voting for the union, threatening to fire workers, or lying to them about what it would actually be like to be a union member.

2) EFCA makes it easier to resolve contract disputes between the workers and their employer.

Currently, if a company doesn’t like the demands that workers are making during contract negotiations, they might just refuse to come to any agreement. In this case, even if workers have voted overwhelmingly for a union, they might have to wait for years until they actually get any contract at all. With EFCA, there would be a fair way to resolve contract disputes.

3) EFCA increases penalties against employers who take illegal union-busting measures against workers.

It may surprise you to learn that many employers commit illegal actions or “Unfair Labor Practices” on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the current penalties for these acts are so minor, that they are basically just a slap on the wrist. For example, employers will continue to take the risk of having to pay a small fee if it means they can invent reasons to keep their employees from unionizing.

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