Bernie Sanders Brings Back the Employee Free Choice Act (aka Card Check)

By Eric B. Meyer

Remember the Employee Free Choice Act?

Back in 2009, the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as “card check,” was introduced in both houses of Congress. The bill had three components:

  1. Requiring that an employer recognize a union if over half of the employees in the proposed bargaining unit signed union authorization cards (as opposed to voting for a union through a secret-ballot process);
  2. Expedited contract negotiations; and,
  3. Harsher fines for unfair labor practices.

Card check would have been a game changer. And it got pretty close to a vote. However, the Democrats could not get enough votes together to defeat a Republican filibuster.

The Workplace Democracy Act

Fast forward to 2015. Yesterday, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced the Workplace Democracy Act in the U.S. Senate. According to his press release, it sounds a lot like Card Check:

The Workplace Democracy Act will make it easier for workers to join a union by allowing the National Labor Relations Board to certify a union if a simple majority of eligible workers sign valid authorization cards. The bill also requires companies to begin negotiating within 10 days after certification. If no first contract is reached after 90 days, either party can request compulsory mediation. After 30 days of mediation, the parties will submit the remaining issues to binding arbitration.”

You can read a copy of the bill here.

In a Republican-controlled Congress, this bill has zero chance of passing. Thus, some speculate that this bill is more about politically pressuring Hillary Clinton than anything else.

What would this mean for employers?

Consider what could happen if Card Check 2015 were to pass.

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Presumably, unions would resort to “passionate persuasion” to get employees to sign union-authorization cards in lieu of a secret-ballot union election. Now, add to the equation the current state of the National Labor Relations Board, which is incredibly employee friendly.

That perfect storm could result in a HUGE spike in unionization.

If employees vote to have a union at work, that’s one thing. But, forced unionization is quite another.

But, again, Bernie Sanders’ bill has no chance of passage.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

You know that scientist in the action movie who has all the right answers if only the government would just pay attention? Eric B. Meyer, Esq. gets companies HR-compliant before the action sequence. Serving clients nationwide, Eric is a Partner at FisherBroyles, LLP, which is the largest full-service, cloud-based law firm in the world, with approximately 210 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Eric is also a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of The Employer Handbook (www.TheEmployerHandbook.com), which is pretty much the best employment law blog ever. That, and he's been quoted in the British tabloids. #Bucketlist.

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