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Employee Free Choice Act Introduced Today in House and Senate

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March 10, 2009

As predicted in our eBulletin last week, the Employee Free Choice Act ("EFCA") was introduced earlier today in both the House and Senate. Unions staged rallies in support of the bill yesterday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Washington D.C. headquarters, and labor and business representatives alike have descended upon the capitol to lobby lawmakers. Today, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held the first hearings on the bill, entitled, "Rebuilding Economic Security: Empowering Workers to Restore the Middle Class," in which workers and labor representatives extolled the need for and discussed the possible effects of the legislation.

The Senate remains closely divided on EFCA, and supporters will need to win swing votes from moderate Democratic Senators to end filibuster attempts. The legislation was introduced in the House by Representative George Miller (D-California) with 223 co-sponsors and in the Senate by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) with 40 co-sponsors, which is less support than it attracted in 2007 when it was last introduced. The Senate will likely consider the bill before the House so that representatives (all of whom face reelection in approximately one year) can avoid a potentially controversial vote if the bill is not approved by the Senate.

Introduced in the same form as it appeared in Congress in 2007, EFCA would require the National Labor Relations Board to certify a union after a majority of a company's employees sign union authorization cards. EFCA would effectively end the current secret-ballot union election process. The legislation would also impose mandatory interest arbitration if the employer and union fail to agree on a new contract within 90 days of the union's certification -- thus allowing an arbitrator to set the terms of the labor contract.

The introduction of this legislation heightens the urgent need for private employers to educate themselves about EFCA and devise strategies for dealing with the increasingly likely reality of union organizing in the era of card check recognition. Attorneys at Franczek Radelet have been extremely active in providing EFCA training and strategy preparation to clients and employer groups all over the country. If you have not already done so, we strongly encourage you to contact your Franczek Radelet attorney very soon to discuss preparations you should consider relating to this revolutionary new legislation.

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