Saturday, April 18, 2009

Employee Free Choice Act: Questions and Answers

Below is the AFL-CIO's question and answer fact sheet on the Employee Free Choice Act -- moderator.


Employee Free Choice Act

Questions and Answers


     Why do we need the Employee Free Choice Act?


The Employee Free Choice Act will help workers achieve

the American Dream by giving them the freedom to choose

a union, unite with their coworkers, and bargain

collectively for a better future. By amending current

labor law to remove unfair barriers, it will allow

workers to get their fair share and improve jobs and

benefits for everyone.


These are tough economic times - crumbling financial

markets, soaring gas and food prices, home

foreclosures, unaffordable health care, and shattered

retirement security. Wages for working men and women

have stagnated while pay and bonuses for CEOs have sky-

rocketed. The Employee Free Choice Act will restore

balance to our labor law and help the economy work for

everyone again.



     What's wrong with the current law?


Surveys show that 60 million American workers would

join a union today if they could. So why don't they?

It's because the system for forming unions is broken.

Current federal labor law - the National Labor

Relations Act - has become an impediment to workers'



   * Employees are fired in one-quarter of private-

     sector union organizing campaigns;

   * 78 percent of private companies subject their

     workers to repeated, coercive, one-on-one, anti-

     union messages delivered by their supervisors-the

     same supervisors  who control their jobs and pay;

   * And even after workers successfully form a union,

     44% of the time they are not able to get a


   * Remedies for these labor law violations are out-

     dated, trivial and ineffective.


This is an urgent crisis for workers, blocking their

freedom to form unions and their ability to bargain for

a better future.


     What does the Employee Free Choice Act do?


The Employee Free Choice Act helps workers who want a

union so they can bargain for better wages, benefits

and working conditions in these three ways:


1. Removes current barriers that prevent workers from

forming unions to bargain collectively.


2. Guarantees workers a contract when they form a new



3. Strengthens penalties against companies which break

the law during organizing campaigns and first contract



     What is majority sign-up and how does it work?


Under the Employee Free Choice Act, when a majority of

workers signs cards authorizing the union to represent

them and those authorization cards are validated by the

federal government, the company will be legally

required to recognize and bargain with the workers'

union. It has always been lawful under federal labor

law for workers to form their unions by signing

authorization cards-that is not a change. But under

current law, companies can reject their workers' union

support and refuse to bargain with their union. The

Employee Free Choice Act changes that by giving

workers-not companies-the right to decide how workers

form their union.


Employers like AT&T, Harley Davidson and Kaiser

Permanente, have all voluntarily honored their

employees' right to use majority sign-up to choose

union representation. These companies have found that

majority sign-up is a fair and effective way for

workers to make their own decisions and that this

process results in less hostility and polarization in

the workplace than the current government procedures.

Majority sign-up is used by public workers in eight

states which have adopted a similar statute.


     Does the Employee Free choice Act take away so-

     called secret ballot elections?


No. The Employee Free Choice Act does not change the

current process for secret ballot elections. It simply

provides workers another option-majority sign-up.


The NLRB's "election" process may sound like a more

democratic approach because it includes a secret ballot

procedure. But the process is not democratic because

it has become so company-controlled. Only the company

has access to workers all during their workday but can

ban any access by union representatives. Only the

company is allowed to speak against the union in the

workplace yet restrict pro-union speech even by

workers. Only the company can send mail to workers

while withholding their addresses from the union until

just before the election. Only the company can force

workers to attend mandatory workplace meetings against

the union, but deny even voluntary workplace meetings

by union supporters. Workers deserve a path to

unionization that is fair, quick, and not dominated by corporations.



     Does the Employee Free choice Act silence

     companies or require them to remain neutral about

     the union?


Absolutely not! Companies will still be free to express

their opinions, just like now.



     Will employees be pressured into signing union authorization cards?


It is illegal now for anyone to coerce employees to

sign a union authorization card and it will still be

illegal with the Employee Free Choice Act. Any person

who breaks the law is subject to penalties. Plus,

coercion could prevent the union from being certified

as the workers' representative.


     Isn't this law really about unions wanting to

     increase their membership?


The Employee Free Choice Act is about restoring to

working people the freedom to improve their lives

through unions. Workers with union contracts earn 30

percent more than those without and are much more

likely to have health care and pensions. With all of

the economic pressures on working people today, the

freedom to pursue their dreams is critically important.


     Who supports the Employee Free Choice Act?


The Employee Free Choice Act has the support of

hundreds of members of Congress of both parties,

academics and historians, civil and human rights

organizations such as the NAACP and Human Rights Watch,

most major faith denominations, and 69 percent of the

American public.


     Who opposes the Employee Free Choice Act?


Corporate front groups are spending millions to stop

the Employee Free Choice Act.  CEOs want contracts to

protect their huge salaries and bonuses, but are

fighting hard to stop workers from having the

protections of written contracts.  They don't want

workers to be able to bargain for better wages,

benefits and working conditions.


     Does the Employee Free Choice Act take away the

     right of individual states to prohibit union

     membership as a condition of employment in their



Absolutely not. The Employee Free Choice Act has no

affect whatsoever on such laws or on the right of

individual states to enact such laws.


     Does the Employee Free Choice Act have a small

     business exception?


The Employee Free Choice Act does not make any changes

to existing jurisdictional standards.




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