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
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
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
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
The Employee Free Choice Act does not make any changes
to existing jurisdictional standards.