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June 21, 2007

Mikulski's Response on Card Check Issue

If you responded to our legislative alert on the misnamed “Employee Free Choice Act,” we wanted to take a minute to clarify something in the response you may have received from Sen. Barbara Mikulski.

The Employee Free Choice Act is legislation to replace secret ballot elections for union organizing with a process called “card check,” where a union is recognized in a workplace if a majority of workers sign a card in the presence of union organizers and fellow employees who support unionization.

In a response to a constituent who opposes the bill, Sen. Mikulski said, ” I understand your concerns about card-check elections. I know you have thought a lot about this issue. Unfortunately, we do not agree on this matter. Card-check agreements ensure a quick and fair election. Card-check elections are voluntary, meaning both the workers and the employer must agree to the process. That’s why they tend to be less contentious than secret ballot elections.”

According to Michael Eastman, Executive Director, Labor Law Policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, this statement is misleading. He said, “That is true in current law. Under current law, card check is permitted if the employer agrees. However, the employer can also insist on a secret ballot election. The Employee Free Choice Act will change that so that the employer no longer needs to agree. Once a union obtains a majority of cards, the employer will be required to recognize and bargain with the union.”

He points to this specific language from section 2 of the bill:

If the Board finds that a majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for bargaining has signed valid authorizations designating the individual or labor organization specified in the petition as their bargaining representative …, the Board shall not direct an election but shall certify the individual or labor organization as the representative”

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