Just a few weeks after last November’s elections, a bill (House Resolution 800) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by George Miller, D-Calif., to amend significant portions of the National Labor Relations Act. While the principal thrust of the Employee Free Choice Act is to overhaul the methodology for employees’ selection of their collective bargaining representatives, the EFCA would also provide for (1) mandatory first contract mediation and binding arbitration, requiring, if necessary, the imposition of initial union contract terms on a company; (2) mandatory injunction requests against an employer where there is “reasonable cause” to believe that the employer is engaged in conduct which interferes with employee rights during an organizing drive or negotiations for a first contract; (3) treble back pay for any employee discriminatorily discharged during an organizing drive; and (4) civil fines of up to $20,000 per individual NLRA violation under certain circumstances.

The provision generating the most heat and light, however, is one virtually eliminating employee secret-ballot elections in favor of automatic National Labor Relations Board certification of a union upon the presentation of a majority of signed authorization cards solicited by the union. Labor unions are claiming that these radical changes are necessary because (1) the NLRA is skewed in favor of employers, and (2) employers are now going to extraordinary lengths to mount anti-union campaigns.

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