Mike Giles

Client Bulletin #369 - For PDF version of this Client Bulletin, click here

The House Education and Labor Committee voted last week to approve H.R. 800 (a/k/a “the Employee Free Choice Act”), which would allow unions to be certified without secret ballot elections. The bill should go to the House floor in March, where easy passage is expected.

The bill provides that, if a majority of employees sign valid union authorization cards, the union will be certified by the NLRB as the bargaining representative. Although the bill has 234 co-sponsors in the House, it is expected to encounter obstacles in the Senate, and President Bush has said that he will veto the legislation.

On February 7, 2007, the Republican counterproposal, the “Secret Ballot Protection Act” (H.R. 866) was referred to the House Education and Labor Committee. This bill would make it an unfair labor practice for employers to recognize and bargain collectively with labor organizations not selected by a majority of employees through secret ballot elections. This bill currently has only 63 co-sponsors.

Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLC has counseled employers, exclusively, on labor and employment law matters since 1946. The firm represents Fortune 500 corporations and small companies across the country. More than 100 lawyers work with clients to provide cost-effective legal services and sound preventive advice to enhance the employer-employee relationship. Offices are located in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Virginia, Missouri, and Texas. For more information about the firm's labor and employment services, visit www.constangy.com, or call toll free at 866-843-9555.

Both bills were proposed during the last Congress, but neither became law. The Employee Free Choice Act is well on its way to a vote. The enactment of this legislation would have a dramatic impact on workplaces in the United States, perhaps one of the most dramatic in the history of U.S. labor relations. The substantial shift in power for the Democrats, coupled with the high-energy support of organized labor, make passage of such legislation more likely than ever. Whether there will be enough votes in Congress to override a Bush veto remains to be seen. Therefore, business leaders need to make their voices heard when this legislation reappears. To do so conveniently, click here to be taken to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website, where you can join the Chamber’s “Virtual March on Washington” and send a message regarding this important issue to your Representatives and Senators.

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