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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Employee Free Choice Act

One of our faithful readers an across an interesting post at The Daily Kos about the Employee Free Choice Act that could have had local implications:

The EFCA has three main parts. First, it requires certification of a union once a majority of employees in a workplace have signed up for the union. Currently, after a majority of employees have requested a union, employers can force an election. This may sound democratic enough, but in fact it allows employers to use their power over workers to campaign against the union, often harassing and firing union supporters in the process.

Second, the EFCA prevents employers from dragging out negotiations on a first union contract by creating provisions for mediation and arbitration. Third, it strengthens penalties on employers who fire union supporters during union drives - such firings are illegal, but the current penalties are too small to serve as effective deterrents.


Likely, it will be filibustered in the Senate -- but this could have had interesting implications in the News-Press Mess, no?

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the Employee Free Choice Act had been in effect at the time of the News-Press massacre in July, the union would have been able to compel Wendy to sit at the table by the end of that month. The union had already collected a majority of authorization cards by July 13 (the union did make a bargaining demand then), and there would have been no valid objection to that card count, which would have established the union's majority and not permitted the NP to mount bogus challenges to that outcome, as it is doing now. Perhaps McCaw would not have illegally fired Melinda Burns as it did in October or threatened to suspend many reporters as it did in August, and the NLRB would have had stronger tools to deal with potential bad faith bargaining tactics at the negotiating table. Yes, it would be a whole different labor organizing world with the enactment of the Employee Free Choice Act. There is no chance that the Bush Business Administration will sign it, it will probably be filibustered, but perhaps eventually some Republicans will realize that unions are a key to the maintenance of the middle class and will accept them as, in their view, a "necessary evil." But that certainly won't happen unless and until presidential candidates start talking about it, and people start demanding it.

1/03/2007 6:15 AM  
Blogger cookie jill said...

Gee...I wonder who might be following this piece of Legislation...hmmm...could it be....... "Satan?"...Oh, I mean Wendy McCawCaw.

(apologies to Dana Carvey)

1/03/2007 7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting rebuttal....

Currently, after a majority of employees have requested a union, employers can force an election. This may sound democratic enough, but in fact it allows employers to use their power over workers to campaign against the union, often harassing and firing union supporters in the process.

Completely untrue. Once a union has gotten enough support (a "showing of interest") to cause an election, the employer may NOT harass or fire union supporters. That is a serious unfair labor practice, disrupting the "laboratory conditions" necessary for a free election. If the employer is found to have harassed or fired anyone for supporting the union, the National Labor Relations Board may simply find for the union, and certify that union as the exclusive representative of the employees.

Second, the EFCA prevents employers from dragging out negotiations on a first union contract by creating provisions for mediation and arbitration.

The provisions for mediation already exist.

Third, it strengthens penalties on employers who fire union supporters during union drives - such firings are illegal, but the current penalties are too small to serve as effective deterrents.

Ahhhh... now they admit that firings are illegal. Yes, they already are. As to the penalties, they depend on what the employer has done, and what the NLRB feels like dishing out.

But this is the sort of legislation that Democrats need to be fighting for, legislation that supports the right of ordinary working people to have dignity in the workplace, to join unions without harassment and intimidation, to earn good wages and get good benefits.

Bull. What does it do that the National Labor Relations Act does not already do?

Looks like window dressing to me.

by Jim Beard on Sat Dec 30, 2006 at 10:40:18 AM PST

1/03/2007 8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

could-a, would-a, should-a

1/03/2007 8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had this been in effect, Josh Molina could still be around.

July
August
September
October
November
December
January

Will it be February, or March?

The News-Press union is still not a certified union.

1/03/2007 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Beard, or whoever posted his assertions, I don't know who you think you're fooling. Employers' major game in the NLRB election process is delay. It doesn't matter much how it occurs, or whether the legal stances interposed for delay purposes have substance; it's about holding the union off while management pummels the employees. The EFCA would cut through that election period target practice engaged in by so many employers who, like the NP, hire unionbusters and engage in other tactics to deter and mislead and frighten employees into backing off their union support. Without that period of open hostility and intimidation, which is not akin to a true democratic election (i.e., unions do not have equal access to employees, and don't have the same relationship with employees as does management), unions would be able to maintain the majorities they obtain.

How naive do you think people are? It is true that it is illegal for an employer to harass or discipline employees because of their union support, but it happens every single day, and the NP has done it, as the recent complaint issued against it by the NLRB shows. There is obviously a difference between an employer not being able to do something, and being able to do it today and getting mildly punished for it 'way down the road, while the injurious effects make it a worthwhile violation. The point is, employers do a "cost/benefit" analysis, and if firing and/or threatening deters employees from voting for and supporting a union and keeps the union out, or weakens it, so what if the employer may have to pay backpay eventually and its lawyers now? The Wendy obviously is quite lawyer-profligate. Many employers believe it is worth the battle to defeat the union. That is why the law must change, because it is supposed to be public policy written into the National Labor Relations Act in this country to encourage -- yes, encourage -- collective bargaining.

And, aside from the weak and late penalties that the current law provides, an employer that ruins the "laboratory conditions" faces only a re-run election. Of course, that is irrelevant in this situation, since the union overwhelmingly won despite the NP's abuses.

As for what the NLRB "feels like dishing out", it is not as arbitrary as that. What it is, is weak. There are no punitive damages, no emotional distress, and no monetary penalties for bad faith bargaining. There can be compensatory damages, and an employer can be required to reinstate an unlawfully fired employee and give him/her backpay. The point is, these are "costs of doing business" outweighed in the minds of many employers by the objective of remaining "union free". That is why the EFCA is necessary to restore a level playing field for union organizing.

As for the bargaining process once a union is certified, there is a big difference between mediation and arbitration. The former is a voluntary attempt to gain an agreement, which won't work with a sophisticated employer bound and determined not to reach agreement, and yes, mediation tools are now available. But arbitration imposes an agreement on the parties, which in turn adds pressure on the bargaining parties to reach their own agreement. That is when an otherwise recalcitrant employer gets serious at the bargaining table.

So what the EFCA does that the NLRA doesn't do is get past the election period where employers are known to be abusive and threatening so a union which can prove a majority can be certified, and increases the ability of the NLRB to properly and effectively remedy unfair labor practices. It also takes away the employer's ability to play bargaining games designed not to reach agreement, since the current remedy for bad faith bargaining is not monetary, but merely an order not to do it anymore and to bargain in good faith. Please.

1/04/2007 6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me personally, I'm skeptical of anything that comes out of Washington. Sounds like more hocus-pocus designed to make more jobs for lawyers without solving anything. Anything that has to do with the Feds will grind and take forever with lots of costs to all parties involved. The devils is always in the details and the points of the bill mentioned are fine and dandy, but the fine print is where the rubber meets the road.

1/05/2007 9:01 AM  

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