A measure in the U.S. House would do away with union elections and simply organize with only a card check, also called a majority sign-up.
The legislation appears to have enough support to pass the House of Representatives, but Central Missouri Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer says he doubts it will gain Senate approval.
Luetkemeyer and other opponents of the legislation say skipping the ballot portion of the unionization process would allow unions and peers to coerce workers to sign the card while stripping them of their right to a secret ballot.
Both secret ballots and majority sign-up are permitted under current law, but the decision on which to use is up to the employer. The Employee Free Choice Act would leave the decision up to the workers.
"It’s something that appears to be dead because of a few key senators in the senate that are opposed to it, it would do away with the secret ballot, and it’s something some union leaders themselves don’t want," Luetkemeyer tells the Missourinet. "We’re concerned, even though it looks like it’s a dead issue, everything in the legislature has nine lives and this could be one of those issues."
Card check is a method for American employees to organize into a labor union when a majority of employees in a bargaining unit sign authorization forms, or "cards," stating they wish to be represented by the union. The process requires agreement from the employer to enter into collective bargaining.
Another difference between majority sign-up and the election process is that the former is an open, or public ballot, whereas the latter is a closed, or secret ballot. Also, majority sign-up does not require the intervention of the Board when unions bargain with employers, whereas the traditional election process does.
In the process, a petition or an authorization card with the signatures of at least 30 percent of the employees requesting a union is submitted to the Board, which then verifies and orders a secret ballot election.
There are exceptions: If more than 50 of the employees sign an authorization card requesting a union, the employer can voluntarily choose to waive the secret ballot election process and just recognize the union. The other exception allows the Board to order an employer to recognize a union if more than 50 percent have signed cards and if the employer has engaged in unfair labor practices that make a fair election unlikely.
Under the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, if the Board verifies that more than 50 percent signed authorization cards, the secret ballot election is bypassed and a union is automatically formed.
The measure has been introduced in Congress in 2005, 2007 and now, in 2009.
The act would provide that the NLRB would recognize the union’s role as the official bargaining representative if a majority of employees have authorized that representation via majority sign-up (card check), without requiring a secret ballot election.
If more than 30 percent and less than 50 percent signed a petition or authorization card, the NLRB would still order a secret ballot.
A petition signature would have the same weight as a "yes" vote in a secret ballot election.