According to yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is not likely to become law in the first 100 days of the Obama Administration. Because Republicans are threatening a filibuster, congressional Democrats are likely to instead focus their early efforts on two other low-hanging fruit: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would extend the statute of limitations under civil-rights laws for bringing suits against employers over pay; and the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would strengthen remedies under the Equal Pay Act of 1963 for women.
If passed, EFCA would be the most wide-ranging revision to federal labor law in 50 years. It would, among other things, require employers to recognize a union as the exclusive bargaining agent for its employees based solely on a "card check" process rather than a secret ballot election. It is expected to drastically increase union organizing and unionization rates.
Threats of a Senate filibuster and a presidential veto prevented EFCA’s passage in 2008, but the labor movement and congressional Democrats hoped that a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate would allow its passage in 2009. We’re not ready to write EFCA off just yet – what remains to be seen is if a compromise version will sufficiently appease the act’s proponents while weakening opposition. Stay tuned to the Stoel Rives World of Employment for more updates.