Sen. Arlen Specter, who opposed the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) when he was a Republican, recently announced that he has flip-flopped on the issue and will now be supporting EFCA-lite. As Specter described it, the latest version of the bill drops the card-check provision that has attracted so much controversy. This is a victory for workers who will not lose their right to a secret ballot. Unfortunately, the new EFCA replaces card-check with snap elections, which are intended to deprive employees of an informed choice.
Instead of a traditional campaign, which usually lasts five to six weeks, where workers hear from both employers and unions on the advantages and disadvantages of unionizing, EFCA-lite would require workers to vote on unionizing within days of the union filing its petition. So workers would hear the union case for months, while only getting a few days to hear the employer rebuttal. The point is to push workers into voting for the union before they have a chance to reconsider.
Why would unions be so eager to do that? Perhaps because they know that if workers hear both sides they may discover that unions are not all that organizers make them out to be. That just happened in Charleston, S.C. where the workers at a Boeing assembly plant voted to decertify the International Association of Machinists. By a 3 to 1 margin the once unionized employees voted to become nonunion.
Why would workers do that? Perhaps the union wasn’t providing them with the benefits they were promised in the organizing campaign two years ago. Or perhaps because they realized that unions harm the competitiveness of the facilities they organize and they wanted to protect their jobs during this tough economy. Congress shouldn’t rush workers into voting for a union – with its upsides and downsides – until they have had the time to make an informed choice.