Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
In a preemptive move in anticipation of the re-introduction of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a group comprised of both House and Senate Republicans have introduced legislation aimed to preserve secret ballot union elections. The Secret Ballot Protection Act (SBPA) was introduced in the Senate by Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, with 16 co-sponsors. In the House, a companion bill was introduced by Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.) and Tom Price (R-GA), with 101 co-sponsors.
This legislation would make it an unfair labor practice under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) for an employer to recognize a union that has not been selected via secret ballot. Moreover, this bill would make it unlawful for a union that has not been chosen as the employees’ exclusive representative in a secret ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board to cause or attempt to cause an employer to recognize or bargain with it. Similar legislation had been introduced in the past three Congresses, to no avail.
This bill was clearly introduced to beat Democrats to the punch in re-introducing EFCA. Known as the “card check” bill, this act would, among other things, allow a union to be named as the employees’ exclusive bargaining representative if the union can garner sufficient support via signed authorization cards, without the holding of a secret ballot election provided for under the NLRA currently. Organized labor has made the passage of EFCA its prime legislative goal for this administration. Although President Obama had co-sponsored EFCA when it was first introduced in 2007, he has been noticeably less vocal in his support of this bill since taking office. Both organized labor and business interests have been marshaling their forces to wage public – and highly contentious – campaigns in support of/against EFCA. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) had previously intimated that EFCA in some shape or form would not be introduced until April at the earliest. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had expressed hope that the Senate would begin serious consideration of the bill by the summer. It is not known whether these plans will change now that the Republicans have made the first move.