Today, about 25 business people & I attended a roundtable discussion with U.S. Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL, 6th District, O’Hare Suburbs; DuPage County) regarding the increasingly controversial Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).
It was a fantastic & frank forum. The animus against this act was palpable in the room; as was Congressman Roskam’s.
The general consensus is that from a management perspective, this is one scary bill. It basically calls for non-secretive union elections (union elections are currently secret ballot) & permits 3rd party arbitrators to impose contractual terms on the parties, if they’re unable to agree on a contract.
The law passed easily through the House of Representatives during the last Congressional session, so it will probably pass through the House this session again. The Senate seems to be a tougher call because according to Congressman Roskam, there are some Republicans like Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter who are currently in favor of it. However, not all House or Senate Democrats support the bill either.
My concern isn’t an increase in the number of union employees in the private sector, which many critics argue will happen (I don’t think this is a given because private sector union membership has been in decline for decades & labor seems unable to get its act together). My concern is that along with the EFCA & other laws already signed by President Obama (recent Executive Orders (see Project Labor Agreements & Non-Displacement of Workers), the costs to manage union election campaigns will greatly increase (I’m talking about prevention, avoidance & decertification campaigns) & stifle innovation due to draconian rules enforced by unions (even at the expense of labor).
Also, the possibility of increased labor costs in the public sector, due to these same recently enacted laws, may increase the cost of private sector labor, and render us non-competitive in foreign markets as well as increasing outsourcing to those markets. One fear of many opponents of EFCA, as well as other similar laws is that manufacturers will leave the U.S.
Hopefully, if the law does pass, then Congress will similarly allow the same process for union decertification elections.