Much ado about ... "card check": passage of the pro-union Employee Free Choice Act is organized labor's top priority.

Author:Straczewski, Jason

It's back. The top legislative priority for the International Franchise Association is the defeat of the so-called Employee Free Choice Act or "card-check." Enactment of this legislation remains the top legislative priority for organized labor. In 2007, EFCA passed the U.S. House of Representatives and went on to receive a majority of support in the Senate. President-elect Obama said numerous times during his campaign that he would support the legislation and sign it into law if elected.

As the election cycle wore on last year, more and more news articles appeared about the act across the country. Letters to editors were submitted to local and state newspapers from Maine to Alabama to Oregon. Major national newspapers ran editorials criticizing the legislation. Its supporters--organized labor--touted the bill as a one-way ticket to the middle class for every American. Business groups predicted "Armageddon" if Congress were to try and enact it. But, what does it mean for franchised businesses?

Franchised- and service-sector businesses are targets for intensive labor organizing efforts because these sectors have strong employment growth and very low union representation. A bargaining unit is not defined in the legislation, and there is no requirement that workers who sign union cards must be employed full time. Even a single store in a franchised system could be determined to be a "collective bargaining unit."


Some franchised businesses are particularly vulnerable due to the nature of their work force (part-time, labor intensive, and so on). Unions would like to utilize the card-check process to efficiently target these workers. Previous experience shows that unions define the size of the bargaining unit and will select the employee groups (e.g. pizza delivery drivers in Pensacola) that are most likely to return a majority of signed cards.

Large employers are not the only targets of union activities. In fact, recent National Labor Relations Board statistics show that the majority of union elections are in small or very small units. For the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2005, the NLRB conducted 2,649 union representation elections. More than 20 percent involved bargaining units of fewer than 10 employees. A full 70 percent of these elections involved bargaining units of fewer than 50 employees.

Finally, the EFCA...

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