Thursday, March 5, 2009

Employee Free Choice Act to be Introduced in House next week; President vows support, the blog of the National Association of Manufacturers, is reporting that the Employee Free Choice Act will be introduced next Monday, March 9, in the House of Representatives. This news is not that surprising. The EFCA will likely pass that half of Congress, where the Democrats enjoy a sizeable majority and the Republican minority cannot filibuster. The real fight, which could be unlike anything we have seen in a generation, will be in the Senate, where the EFCA’s supporters will face a fierce battle to reach the 60 votes they need to ensure its passage.

Until this week, the White House has been quiet on this issue. On Tuesday, in pre-recorded remarks to the AFL-CIO Executive Council, President Obama gave his support for the EFCA:

I want to repeat something that those of you who joined us for the Task Force announcement heard me say: I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem. To me, and to my administration, labor unions are a big part of the solution. We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests – because we cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement….

And as we confront this crisis and work to provide health care to every American, rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, move toward a clean energy economy, and pass the Employee Free Choice Act, I want you to know that you will always have a seat at the table.

This language can be viewed one of two ways – pandering remarks to a partisan crowd, or a promise to pass and sign the legislation. Given the President’s words on this issue just prior to his inauguration, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle:

Regardless, there are certain steps companies should be taking now to prepare for the EFCA:

  1. Foster open employee communication. Do what you can to give employees a reason not to look outside the workplace for a voice to air their concerns.

  2. Train supervisors in how to deal with employee issues. Fairness, evenhandedness, and responsiveness are crucial in preventing unions from gaining a foothold.

  3. Implement a no-solicitation policy to minimize union’s access to employees.

[Hat tip: Pennsylvania Labor & Employment Blog]

Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus.

For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or