Introduced in 2005, the so-called Employee Free Choice Act, or EFCA, would have replaced secret ballot elections with “card check” as the method for determining whether employees wanted union representation. This means employees would not vote secretly for or against unionization but would instead be required to sign union authorization cards in front of coworkers and union organizers, exposing them to intimidation and harassment if they did not support unionization.
Although EFCA did not become law, that did not stop the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from actively pursuing its effects. In August 2011, the Board issued a decision in Lamons Gasket, in which the NLRB abolished employees’ right to demand an election within 45 days of their employer agreeing to recognize a union based solely on card check. Without this right, employees could be barred from challenging a union recognized through card check for up to a year and far longer if the employer and union sign a contract.
Secret ballot elections have been a cornerstone of workers’ rights and an integral part of labor relations since the earliest days of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Every employee should have the right to a secret ballot. The Board should reverse the Lamons Gasket case and the president and Congress should consider legislation requiring secret ballot elections.
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