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Republicans Race to Preempt EFCA with the Secret Ballot Protection Act

Republicans renewed the fight to preserve secret-ballot elections in union organization campaigns on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 by introducing the Secret Ballot Protection Act (SBPA) in both houses of Congress. The SBPA is a counter to the proposed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

The Employee Free Choice Act has recently been the subject of many debates, especially during the presidential campaign. EFCA would drastically change current labor laws and enable a majority of employees to form a union by signing petition cards (the “card-check” process). Under EFCA, an employer would no longer be able dispute the card-check process through a secret-ballot election.

The proposed Secret Ballot Protection Act guarantees the right of employees to secret ballots in union organizing elections. The  SBPA prohibits unions from organizing based on the card check process and only allows union certification if the union wins majority support in a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) secret-ballot election. According to advocates of the Secret Ballot Protection Act, the bill will not only guarantee the right to vote by secret ballot, but also protect workers from intimidation and coercion by unions or co-workers.

It is clear the battle over the Employee Free Choice Act and secret-ballot elections is far from over. Versions of both the Secret Ballot Protection Act and EFCA have previously been proposed, but failed to win congressional support.  Although, proponents of the secret-ballot election struck first yesterday with the SBPA, EFCA is expected to be introduced later this year.

The Employee Free Choice Act previously cleared the House in 2007, but only received 51 of 60 filibuster-proof votes needed to pass the Senate. While the Secret Ballot Protection Act has 16 original cosponsors, Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), asserted Wednesday that there are 60 senators who either support EFCA or would vote to cut off a filibuster.

Learn more about the Employee Free Choice Act and how companies can stay union free in 2009 at Union Avoidance Virtual Summit and by listenting to the audio conference “Employee Free Choice Act Battle Plan: Preparing for Labor’s New Organizing Tool”.