As our nation prepares to bid farewell to summer and celebrate Labor Day, now is the perfect time to take stock of where we are with respect to the so-called "Employee Free Choice Act" (HR 1409/S560), also known as EFCA or simply "card check."
- Americans don't want "card check" provisions that strip workers of their rights to secret ballot union elections. Polls have shown that approxiately 74% of Americans (including a majority of union households) do not support legislation that would replace secret ballot elections with controversial "card check" systems for organizing/membership decisions.
- Despite talk of a potential "compromise" that would address the secret ballot issue, to date no alternative legislation has been introduced in Congress and made available to the public for review. All summer we have seen media reports that a "compromise" is in the works to address concerns and protect workers' rights to secret ballots elections (although presumably not address other destructive provisions in the bill, such as mandatory binding federal arbirtration). But so far, no details or specific legislation has been released.
- EFCA appears to be on hold…for now, at least. Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was speaking before the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce recently and commented that "we [the Senate] have too many things on our plate" to bring EFCA up for consideration in the Senate right away. However, I am hesitant to interpret that statement to mean that EFCA is "dead" for the year. If the Senate cannot get agreement and pass health care reform (the #1 priority) this fall, EFCA may percolate to the top of its agenda. After all, it wasn't too long ago that we saw reports that Senator Reid had instructed staff to look for ways to "push" EFCA (or a similar compromise) through the Senate as quickly as possible to head off opponents from organizing an effective campaign against it.
- Even the AFL-CIO has acknowledged that the White House will not push EFCA until health care reform is finalized. Senator Reid's statement aside, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka told a blog's webchat audience that "The President/and [White House Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel have both said they dont intend to bring Employee Free Choice Act up until Health Insurance Reform is done. Which gives us an additional reason to do Health Insurance Reform now!" Clearly, advocates haven't given up on EFCA…in fact, on September 10, 2009, the Employee Free Choice Act Coalition is holding a lobbying day on the Hill and expects 300+ advocates to fly in to D.C. to make the case to Congress for EFCA.
That's the state of play…will the Senate act on EFCA this fall or won't they?