• Employee Free Choice Act Stalls in Senate
  • July 11, 2007 | Author: Todd D. Steenson
  • Law Firm: Holland & Knight LLP - Chicago Office
  • In March, we issued an alert describing the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800), which the U.S. House of Representatives passed March 1. This law would give workers the option of choosing union representation by signing authorization cards, provide for mediation and arbitration if the parties fail to reach a first bargaining contract within certain time limits, and set tougher penalties for unfair labor practices committed during an organizing campaign or during bargaining for a first contract.

    In an action that effectively stymies efforts to pass the Employee Free Choice Act in the Senate this session, on June 26, Senate supporters of the Act fell nine votes short of the 60 needed to limit Senate debate and proceed to final consideration of the bill. The 51-48 vote was almost completely along party lines, with 48 Democrats, two Independents (Senators Lieberman (Conn.) and Sanders (Vt.)), and one Republican (Senator Specter (Pa.)) voting to limit debate and 48 Republicans voting against it.

    Although Democrats and unions have vowed to continue to fight for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, the Bush Administration opposes it. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao, who had opposed the bill, called the Senate vote “a victory for workers who value the protection and dignity of private balloting and the basic right to vote on labor contracts.” President Bush has promised to veto the bill if it does pass the Senate.