January 2009

What is the Employee Free Choice Act?

This legislation has been floating around Congress since at least 2005, and has yet to become law. Supporters hope that under the new administration, the legislation can be enacted. It is a proposed amendment to the National Labor Relations Act that makes it easier for employees to unionize and strengthens penalties against employers for blocking unionization. It allows a union be certified without an election by the National Labor Relations Board if a majority of employees seek to form a union. It also sets out procedures and strict time lines for initial collective bargaining. Perhaps most salient to employers, the amendment increases penalties against employers who are found to be blocking unions or firing pro-union employees. Penalties of $20,000 apply for failure to bargain with a union, while employees terminated for promoting unionization can recover three years of back pay.