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We have moved to Wordpress! Posted by Jason Links to this post The Recruiting Front Lines has evolved. At the beginning of the year, I changed jobs within my company, moving away from Outreach and Education, and into my new role as Director of Business Development. While I remain closely involved with our field activity, I am now more focused on strategic partnerships, social media, and the world of internet recruitment resources. As I have made this change, the focus of my blog content has also changed. Recently, I began to feel that many of the ideas I had for blog posts would not fit within the framework of The Recruiting Front Lines. This was a cause of some frustration, as I felt that I was either misrepresenting my content with the title of my blog, or that I was stifling my writing because I felt it didn't fit. To rectify this situation, I have created a new blog home, now on WordPress. I am still ironing out the wrinkles, but feel that it is far enough along that I can move all my past content, and begin posting all new content, at the new address. I would like to formally welcome everyone to come check out my new home at I can't wait to hear what you think! Best Regards, and Thank you for your time and attention over the past 18 months. Jason

Mar 9, 2009

RFL: The Skinny on EFCA- Unbiased Facts and Biased Opinions

I sat through a 90 minute presentation by a labor attorney speaking to HR folks about the issues associated with the Employee Free Choice Act, EFCA. While there was a significant undertone of fear-mongering and scare tactics employed to generate calls to his firm, the speaker did offer a good general overview of the facts associated with EFCA, as well as a nice history unions and the National Labor Relations Board.

I've done my best to provide some unbiased facts along with some biased opinions on the issue. Please feel free to agree, disagree, or not care.

Here's how the current secret ballot election process works:
  • Union organizers obtain authorization cards signed by at least 30% of Bargaining Unit. These cards grant permission for unions to represent the employee in a collective bargaining agreement or to hold seek a representation election.
  • Union filed petition with National Labor Relation Board (NLRB)
  • NLRB sends written notice to employer, who is then responsible to post notice in workplace, and provide employee roster to NLRB to verify 30%
  • Normally within 45 days of petition for election, NLRB schedules Representation Election.
  • Employer required to post election notice in workplace, election is then typically held in neutral site on employer premises, and is supervised by NLRB rep.
  • Ballots counted in presence of observers.
  • Outcome of election is basd on the majority of ballots cast. If there are 50 eligible voters, but only 20 vote, 11 votes constitute a majority which would then represent all 50 employees.
  • In the current system, employeers have an opportunity to educate employees within reasonable guidelines- no promises, threats, solicitation of grievances, change in work conditions, interrogation, etc. Employees also have an opportunity to discuss among themselves.
  • Currently Unions lose a majority of elections. Unions also fear that employer commit unfair labor practices to influence employees.
So that's today. Why do we need an EFCA, and what are the issues? That's up to interpretation and perspective. Anti-EFCA pundits would say that the objectives are to avoid educational campaigns by employers and avoid giving voice to dissenting employees. In reality, the election process is really eliminated, and employers would be required to enter collective bargaining with a bargaining unit based solely on signed authorization cards by a majority. NLRB then resolves all bargaining unit issues. Here's some bullets on the concerns by employers:
  • NLRB counts authorization cards, if there's majority support, the Union is certified and obligation to bargain begins.
  • There is no requirement to notify employers of the distribution or collection of authorization cards until they are signed, avoiding any opportunity for employers to open dialogue with employees.
  • There is no requirement for a general notice to employees regardign the organizing activity, meaning union organizers can pick and choose who they give cards to. The fear is that influencers against organizing would be kept in the dark.
  • Removal of the secret ballot creates the opportunity for coercion and intimidation in the solicitation of authorization cards.
  • Bargaining MUST commence within 10 days of written request from Union. The anti-EFCA argument is that no company can get a bargaining position together within 10 days, particularly if they don't know it's coming.
  • If there's no agreement within 90 days from beginning of negotiation, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service is assigned, and then the sides have just 30 days to reach agreement. After that, an arbitration panel shall render a settlement decision which is binding for 2 years. Ultimately, this could incentivize the union to make outlandish requests in the negotiation and refuse settlement, believing that an arbiter will meet both sides halfway.
Okay, so that's not so brief. I'm willing to admit that I am pro-union, and feel that there must be institutions in place to protect employees rights, particularly as capitalism spirals out of control and the wage gap between executives and employees widens. BUT THIS ISN'T THE BEST LEGISLATION WE CAN COME UP WITH.

Have thoughts? Please share!


Anonymous said...

Good article that you have put up!

Your blog entry came up under my google alerts, glad i clicked on the link.

As somone who is not "pro-union" or "anti-union", I would consider myself more "pro-business", which I believe requires treating your employees well (midwestern values). Being that you are also pro-union, I appreciate your opinion that you have written at the end of your post...

Greed is what is driving this bill. This is the same greed as the CEO's who take millions in bonuses from failing companies (which I am against just as much as the next guy). I'm also perplexed at the fact that hundreds of millions of hard earned, union member's dollars were spend on a campaign, when that money could have been put back in the pocket it deserved to be in the first place. The worker.

Here's a couple of other thoughts to add to the discussion. Unions, at their inception, used to be needed to deal with things like terribly low pay, terrible working conditions, harassing workplace. But the government has put alot of things in place that prevents what unions used to fight against (labor laws, minimum wage, discrimination laws, etc). I really think this is why there has been a significant drop in unionized numbers. If a company operates under these harsh conditions any more, the media gets ahold of it and public outrage drive it out of business.

Passing this EFCA would be a terrible thing to do to the business community as a whole. If the opportunity is available to unionize now, why does it have to change? Because the employee is given the opportunity to make an informed decision?

At least they didn't "American Idol" the voting process by using text messages I guess. It could be worse.

But again, finearticle Jason. Well done. I will check back and read into your future writings!

Clem Lockfig said...

Historically, it does appear that unions sprang from abuse of workers or a disregard for their safety and well being. Yes, now most employers promote they "care" for their "associates," which may or may not be true. For the most part there is not the same urgency to unionize.

There are also instances where businesses claim very tight resources require extremely small increases or reductions in pay and reductions in benefits provided. Here unions say they offer employees leverage. With the challenges of our economy, this is probably the seed from where grows most new unionization under today's standards.

With the current authorization and election process, I almost want to say that an employer that becomes unionized pretty much deserves to be unionized. With the proposed extremely relaxed process, it appears like it would open a floodgate of unionization. Aggressive organizer efforts could easily get cards signed, but not pass muster during a secret ballot.

The new legislation does make me uneasy. Like much of what has passed so quickly in the new administration, it does not seem the best balance or even a balance. This proposal is not presented because of the urgency of our economic crisis or because of employee relations issues. Rather, this is in spite of what is going on in the marketplace or the workplace. Our President ran saying this was a goal. He and the supporters of the bill believes it is the right thing to do. This should be no surprise. I'm sad to say, "If we get it, we deserve it."

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