The Employee Free Choice Act is the name for several legislative bills as part of the US labor law. The Employee Free Choice Act is a sensible reform that would protect the workers’ right to join together in unions and make it harder for management to threaten workers seeking to organize themselves in a union, but conservatives are waging war against the bill.

The freedom to form a union is a democratic right that is under attack. Too many workers are prevented from freely choosing to band together in a union to bargain collectively with their employer on workplace issues.

More than half of all workers in the United States say they would vote to join a union if they could, but union membership in the private sector is less than 8 percent today – down from one-third of private sector workers in the middle of the 20th century – because existing laws make forming a union a Herculean task that few want to undertake.

Impact of the Employee Free Choice Act

The Employee Free Choice Act would have amended the National Labor Relations Act in three significant ways:

  • section 2 eliminates the need for an additional ballot to require the employer to recognize a union if most workers have already signed cards expressing their wish to have a union;
  • section 3 requires that an employer begins negotiating with a union with a view to reaching a collective agreement within 90 days; and if not, the two sides will be referred to compulsory mediation, and if mediation fails, then binding arbitration is used; and
  • section 4 increases the penalties on employers who subject workers to disadvantages for being involved in a union.

The Employee Free Choice Act would not have altered the existing jurisdictional standards of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The jurisdiction of the NLRB remains at the level set in 1959, which is $500,000 gross revenues for a retail business.

The NLRB also requires a union to consist of a minimum of two employees who have no supervisory authority, exempting many small businesses from the increased penalties of the Employee Free Choice Act.