News | March 24, 2009

Card Check: Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) Of 2009 Introduced In Congress

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Organized labor's No. 1 priority in the 111th Congress, The Employee Free Choice Act of 2009 (EFCA) was introduced March 10 in the House by Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) and in the Senate by Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. This legislation otherwise known as Card Check makes organizing workforces easier by removing requirements for secret ballot elections during the unionizing process.

The House version, H.R. 1409, and Senate version, S.560, were referred to the sponsor's committees.

President Obama supports the legislation and endorsed its passage recently in a recorded statement played to union officials at an AFL-CIO closed door meeting with U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

Now more than ever, ATA encourages members to voice their opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act of 2009 and contact their elected officials in the House and Senate about the negative effects that Card Check would have on the trucking industry and the business community as a whole.

Under EFCA, unionizing workforces would become easier because the legislation removes a requirement for secret ballot representation elections. An employer could not request a secret ballot vote to verify the worker's desire to join a union after 50 percent of the workforce signed union representation cards.

At present, employees hear from both union officials and employers during the unionizing process. The secret ballot then allows individuals to make personal decisions about their careers free from the scrutiny of others.

As ATA members know, trucking companies are unique employers, usually in contact with drivers through electronic dispatch every couple of days. A system that does not provide a secret ballot vote to validate the signed authorization cards opens the door to driver intimidation and coercion by union organizers.

A recent survey conducted on behalf of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, of which ATA is a member, found that nearly 9 out of 10 voters (86 percent) said the process by which workers choose union representation should remain private. A mere 8 percent said it should be public information.

More importantly, the poll shows opposition coming from an unlikely source—union households. A separate survey focusing on union households shows that 74 percent of current union members oppose card check.

In addition to removing the secret ballot, EFCA also subjects employers and new union workers to mandatory binding arbitration after 120 days, if a contract is not collectively bargained. This would take contract negotiations from the involved parties and give them to government arbitrators, forcing employers and workers to accept the arbitrator's contract terms.

Union leaders claim the current system inhibits union membership growth. But recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show union membership increased the past two years. The Bureau announced Jan. 28 that union membership rose by 428,000 in 2008, marking the second consecutive year of growth.

During the last Congress, the Employee Free Choice Act, H.R. 800, passed the House on a vote of 241 – 185 but failed to reach the necessary 60-vote majority to avoid filibuster in the Senate. With a supportive President and increased Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, labor officials are increasingly optimistic about the legislation's passage.

The American Trucking Associations fully supports the right of workers to organize but believes preserving an employee's right to cast a secret ballot – as voters do in the election of public officials – is critical to the integrity of the process.

SOURCE: American Trucking Associations

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