Discussion continues in the Senate regarding the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), despite Congress's preoccupation with revamping the nation’s health care system. On September 15, 2009, at the AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh, Senator Arlen Specter, D-Pa., announced developments that could lead to EFCA becoming law before the end of the year.

Senator Specter said the compromise legislation does not contain the controversial card check provision—allowing workers to form a union by signing cards rather than by secret ballot election—but would require prompt elections be held by the National Labor Relations Board. (For background on EFCA, click here to read the Ballard Spahr alert dated March 10, 2009.)

Another dramatic change to the proposed legislation is the inclusion of last best offer binding arbitration, the method of resolving contract disputes in professional baseball and with teachers unions’ in some states. It generally allows the parties a set period to engage in collective bargaining. If no agreement is reached during this period, then the parties submit their last best and final offers to a panel. The panel will determine the contours of the parties’ final agreement. Senator Specter declined to provide details on how this process would work under EFCA.

Senator Specter announced that a group of senators had agreed to an outline of a bill that could bring EFCA to a vote soon. The group includes Senators Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Thomas Carper, D-Del.; Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; and Mark Pryor, D-Ark.

If this legislation passes, it could drastically change private sector collective bargaining. Ballard Spahr will continue to keep you updated as EFCA winds its way through the legislative channels.

Contact Information

If you have questions or concerns about the legislation, feel free to contact Brian D. Pedrow, 215.864.8108 or pedrow@ballardspahr.com, or any member of the Labor, Employment and Immigration Group.


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This alert is a periodic publication of Ballard Spahr LLP and is intended to notify recipients of new developments in the law. It should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own attorney concerning your situation and specific legal questions you have.