Letter to the Editor | Sunday, April 5, 2009
The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) will allow non-union workers to immediately unionize if over 50 percent of the workforce signs union authorization cards. These cards are signed and turned over to the union so that an accurate count may be made. Currently, the National Labor Relations Act requires a vote by private ballot to be held as soon as the union can demonstrate that 30 percent of the workers have signed a card. Under EFCA, no such process would occur. The union would simply be required to obtain, by either coercion or extravagant promises, the signed cards of half the employees. Currently, less than eight percent of private sector workers belong to unions, a number that has been falling for decades.
In her March 31 letter (“Unions a necessity”), Sarah Lyons explains this is because “employers hire anti-union consulting firms, hold captive-audience meetings and even fire employees to intimidate others.” But the National Labor Relations Board, which fields these complaints, rejects almost all of the allegations after inspection. For example, in 2005, the NRLB found evidence of illegal firings in only 2.7 percent of the organizing campaigns that took place that year.
This bill will also impose a 120-day deadline for companies to sign a labor contract – after which government arbitrators would dictate labor contracts. An example of this can be seen in the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), thanks to the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970. For years, most USPS contract negotiations have deadlocked and have gone to arbitration. The result has been costly contracts with no linkage to productivity improvement, cost reduction or product pricing. Salaries and benefits continue to rise, while mail volume and revenue decrease.
If EFCA passes, it will create conditions whereby employees are liable to be badgered and intimidated into signing authorization cards and employers will be forced into accepting contracts that are apt to fiscally hamstring them. In today’s economy, the risks of EFCA are just too great.