The Employee Free Choice Act of 2009 Revisited
Also known as “Card Check,” this bill, recently introduced in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, presents hotly-contested issues that have the potential to adversely affect many franchisors and franchisees. The bill would substantially amend current union laws, by allowing the formation of a labor union if a majority of the employees have signed union authorization cards. Under the bill, employees would still have a secret ballet election (similar to existing practices) when at least 30 percent of employees petition for an election. However, business owners would be severely limited in their ability to communicate with their employees on the issue of signing an authorizing card or requesting an election.
Additionally, the bill includes specified time periods in which the first contracts must be agreed to by an employer, stipulating that if a collective bargaining agreement is not reached between the employer and the union within 90 days after the labor union is recognized, either party can request mediation. If, after 30 days of mediation, an agreement is still not reached, the parties must proceed to binding arbitration. Neither party may appeal the any decisions made by the arbitration panel. This means that am arbitrator, otherwise unfamiliar with the business, will be able to describe the terms of these agreements and these decisions will be valid and binding for two years.
Finally, this bill would increase the fines employers must pay if found guilty of violating their employees' right to unionize or prior to entering into the first collective bargaining agreement.