Based on the make-up of Congress, it appears that EFCA is going to pass and will become law sometime in 2009. If for some reason – a reason I cannot fathom – EFCA does not become law, it does not mean that employers are in the clear from forced unionization.
Towards the end of 2007 there were more Republicans in office and it was apparent that EFCA would succumb to the Republican’s filibuster and not pass. At that time, organized labor began an initiative of alternative ways of organizing workers – through minority unions.
Steelworkers and auto workers were first minority unions at several companies and then gained contracts that helped persuade other workers to organize as part of a company-wide union. This is analogous to a union being in one location or one store of a company and then spreading to the other locations until the whole company is unionized.
Seven unions (USW, UAW, IBEW, CWA, UE, and the CAN) petitioned the NLRB to require private-sector employers to negotiate with union members even though the union had the support of only a minority of the employees. Clearly, this was a last-ditch effort to do an end-around to the failing EFCA legislation.
The unions wanted the NLRB to adopt the following rule despite knowing that it would not likely pass under the current Bush NLRB:
Pursuant to Section 7, 8(a)(1) and 8(a)(5) of the Act, in workplaces where employees are not currently represented by a certified or recognized Section 9(a) majority/exclusive collective-bargaining representative in an appropriate bargaining unit, the employer, upon request, has a duty to bargain collectively with a labor organization that represents less than an employee-majority with regard to the employees who are its members, but not for other employees.
According to the chief organizer for the steelworkers, “Our hope is that there will be a more pro-worker administration in place” and under that administration (appointed by a Democratic President), it will pass.
The Obama NLRB will likely ensure that minority unions have the opportunity to exist and thrive. Coupling minority unions with EFCA and the anticipated “union of one” law, every single employee will be eligible to be represented by his or her own union of choice even though they are employed by the same company and perform the same job.