Jonah’s correspondent mentions one of the possible amendments to EFCA: the substitution of “quickie” elections for card check.
The idea arises from the premise that dispensing with the secret ballot in union elections is enormously unpopular, making passage of EFCA as presently drafted difficult (difficult, but far from impossible). So, to preserve the secret ballot while still making it much easier for unions to organize, some have suggested the “quickie” election compromise.
A ”quickie” election probably would be similar to an election under the NLRB’s proposed RJ petition, with one possible significant difference: advance notice to the employer. That is, under RJ, the union and the company would jointly petition the NLRB for an election on a certain date (within 28 days) and at an agreed time and place (post-election procedures are streamlined so that objections and unfair labor charges won’t impede swift certification of the union). Thus, the employer, theoretically, has agreed to the fundamentals of the election and has an opportunity, however abbreviated, to tell employees the company’s positions on the issues driving the election.
A “quickie” election amendment probably wouldn’t give an employer even the limited heads-up provided under an RJ. The NLRB likely would direct the election a very short time (perhaps as few as 14 days) after the union files an election petition. This wouldn’t give the employer anywhere near the time necessary to counter the arguments the union has been making to employees for the several months it’s been organizing the workforce — usually without employer knowledge. (In 2007, the median time between the filing of an election petition and the conduct of an election was 39 days. Most employers will tell you that it’s difficult to communicate effectively even in that amount of time, particularly because unions have been campaigning among the employees for up to a year before they file their election petitions with the NLRB).
A “quickie” election may be preferable to no election, but EFCA opponents shouldn’t declare victory if they succeed in forging the compromise. A secret ballot cast by an uninformed employee — or more accurately, an employee informed by only one side — isn’t something to celebrate. Combined with mandatory arbitration, the “quickie” amendment will create its own host of headaches.