Barack Obama was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times shortly after winning the election. During that interview, he spoke about one of the major issues of the election that was not on most of the media’s radar; and he did not mince his words: “When it comes to unions, I have consistently said that I want to strengthen the union movement in this country and put an end to the kinds of barriers and roadblocks that are in the way of workers legitimately coming to together in order to form a union and bargain collectively.”
There are many labor-centric bills floating around Congress that are likely to receive tremendous attention once Obama becomes President. Over the next few days, I will post snippets about each of these bills, what they are called, what they plan on doing, and how it will affect businesses.
The first, and at point the biggest, of these bills is the Employee Free Choice Act. Astoundingly, most private company owners and human resource directors have never heard of this Act, and therefore are not aware of the dramatic implications it will have on their companies.
Obama’s campaign website stated that he will fight for EFCA and sign it into law. Since Republicans do not have the numbers to filibuster the law like they did when this tried to be passed in 2007, it is not a matter of whether EFCA will pass, but when – and most believe it will pass within the first 100 days of Obama’s Presidency.
Although the actual language of the bill is subject to change, the following are the elements of EFCA in its current form.
· No more elections: Unions need just 50% + 1 employees to sign union cards and a company is automatically unionized and must begin negotiating a collective bargaining agreement.
· Mandatory Agreement: A company must automatically sign a 2-year agreement.
· Arbitration in lieu of Negotiations: If an agreement is not signed within 60 days of beginning negotiations, an arbitrator, through arbitration, will decide the contents of the agreement even though the arbitrator does not need to be knowledgeable about the specific industry nor ensure that the agreement keeps the company competitive.
· Triple back pay for union supporting employees terminated because of the employer’s anti-union animus; and
· $20,000 penalty for unlawful “restraint or coercion” of an employee.