Employers shouldn’t take much solace in the WaPo editorial that indicates President-elect Obama has “signaled a willingness to consider other mechanisms (than EFCA) to address the concern that employers unfairly use the current process to intimidate workers not to join unions” and that Obama declined to state whether he wanted EFCA brought up in his first year, citing his focus on the economy.
While Congress may try to accommodate Obama by not raising this contentious issue early in his administration, Democrats in Congress are under considerable pressure to take up EFCA as soon as possible. Just a few days ago, one union alone (the Service Employees International Union) announced that it was committing $50 million toward, among other things, passage of EFCA.
Unions understand that the planets won’t align for them like this again. This may be their last best opportunity to reverse the steep decline in private sector union membership. They’ve spent extraordinary resources in support of candidates favorable to the labor agenda and they’re lobbying Congress furiously to get EFCA passed. They won’t back down.
Now, Obama’s “willingness to consider other mechanisms” may indicate that some of the amendments to EFCA I’ve discussed previously might be in play. But even those amendments would radically change the labor landscape in a way that will present profound challenges to employers. Consequently, most alert employers are continuing to both make preparations for EFCA’s passage and lobby senators (Republicans and right-to-work/red-state Democrats) to defeat it.
EFCA is the proverbial freight train coming down the tracks. It may have slowed momentarily, but if employers don’t work incessantly to halt it, it will have a big impact at the first junction or the next.