Speaking yesterday at the National Press Club, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka predicted that the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) (H.R. 1409, S. 560) would be passed in the first quarter of 2010, and signaled that union leaders were going to renew their efforts to push for this legislation. Trumka declined, however, to say whether he would support an amended version of the bill that lacked the “card check” provision allowing the National Labor Relations Board to certify the union as the exclusive bargaining representative if a majority of employees signed authorization cards. Rumors of a so-called “compromise” bill that omits this provision but retains the section calling for binding arbitration in the event a first contract is not reached within a specified period of time—in addition to provisions outlining shorter election periods and greater union access to the workplace during the campaign period—have been floating around for months. Business advocates have long considered these terms to be as problematic and intrusive for employers as the card check provision. So far, no revised version of EFCA has been introduced.
Although Trumka’s statement is a bold one, it is unclear how much Congressional support remains for this controversial bill, especially before midterm elections. In the months following its introduction in March 2009, a number of key senators publicly stated their opposition to EFCA’s impact on secret ballot elections, if not the entire bill itself. Whether these same lawmakers would support EFCA absent the card check provision remains to be seen.