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The primary purpose of the Employee Free Choice Act, better known as the Card Check Bill is to make it easier for unions to organize. Under current law, if union organizers collect signatures from at least 30 percent of the employees in a bargaining unit, the federal National Labor Relations Board will hold an election to determine whether to certify the union. This process, balances the interests of employees, unions, and employers in order to ensure that workers can hear all sides and then make up their minds and vote in private, without intimidation or coercion. Today a majority of elections are held within 39 days and a majority of union elections are won by organized labor.
Because union density has dropped so low (to about 7.5 percent in the private sector), organized labor is seeking to change the rules and make it easier to organize. The card check bill would do just that – instead of determining whether a union would be certified through a federally-supervised secret ballot election, the union would be certified the moment it collected a majority of signed authorization cards. The Card Check Bill would therefore eliminate the campaign period and the legal requirements that regulate it, not to mention eliminating the ability of employees to make an informed decision in private. Instead, employee decisions on unionization would be made in front of union organizers greatly increasing the opportunity for coercion and pressure in the union organizing process.
A secondary purpose of the bill is to amend collective bargaining law so that when a union is recognized for the first time government arbitrators will set all the terms and conditions of the union contract unless the union and the employer can meet stringent timelines. Today, the law requires that the parties bargain in good faith and recognizes that the union, representing workers, and the employer are in the best position to determine whether an agreement is acceptable and whether compromising on one goal in order to achieve another is acceptable. The Card Check Bill's mandatory interest arbitration provisions would remove incentives for the employer or the union to adopt realistic bargaining positions, as each would be posturing for the arbitrator, and would give the arbitrator control of the most basic business decisions. It would also deny employees the right to vote on ratification of the contract.
Finally, the Card Check Bill would increase penalties for employers, but not for unions or others, who violate union organizing laws.