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The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), or the so-called "card-check' bill has being introduced in the House and Senate, March 2009. The EFCA would allow workers to form a union by signing authorization cards, rather than through a secret ballot election. It would also impose binding arbitration when employers and unions fail to reach a contract after 120 days.
After years of girding for this fight, labor supporters and business groups are scrambling after the bill's reintroduction to adapt their long-established arguments to suit the crisis. For those opposed to the bill, which would make it easier to form unions, the new message was that it would be a disaster for businesses reeling from the recession.
Three prominent retailers — Starbucks, Costco and Whole Foods — broke March 22nd with other business leaders to offer a "third way," which they hope can bridge the bitter divide over the EFCA.
The three companies formed the Committee for Level Playing Field in response to the EFCA. The Committee would let management keep the right to secret ballot elections and they would not include binding arbitration. But the retailers' plan also expands penalties, allows unions access to employees during nonworking hours and mandates a fixed time for elections so companies can't delay the process.
President Barack Obama has said he wants Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, but he also has signaled a willingness to hear out offers of compromise.
Update: March 24, 2009