By Edwin S. Hopson
On September 15, 2009, the Washington Post reported that Pennsylvania Democratic Senator Arlen Specter in a speech to the AFL-CIO convention stated that by year’s end the Congress would pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) in a form that would be “totally satisfactory to labor.” While dropping the card check feature in an effort to compromise, Specter indicated after his speech that the proposed legislation would amend the National Labor Relations Act to:
- severely shorten the time between the filing of an election petition and the date of the election;
- guarantee union organizers access to the employer’s property in order to campaign if the employer conducted anti-union meetings while employees were on the clock;
- triple the penalties for unfair labor practice violations occurring during critical phases around the election and initial bargaining; and
- provide for “last best offer arbitration” similar to the interest arbitration agreement major league baseball has with its players’ association after several months of bargaining for the initial contract.
Specter claims that he has the support of conservative Democratic Senators such as Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, to at least vote to end any filibuster attempt by Republicans, which would require 60 votes.
Whether the Democrats can in fact pull off passage of EFCA this year still remains to be seen. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other employer groups are continuing to fight the proposed bill on its merits and will also argue that passage of EFCA at a time when business is still recovering from the shock of the recession is very bad timing.