After SHRM members flooded Congress with more than 9,200 letters, the U.S. Senate voted not to consider H.R. 800, the Employee Free Choice Act. This decision means that the bill is not likely to be debated in the Senate for the remainder of 2007.
The party-line vote occurred on June 26 when only 51 senators voted to "invoke closure" and begin considering the legislation within a set time limit. Under Senate rules, 60 votes are needed to invoke cloture.
This legislation, which represented one of the most dramatic changes in U.S. labor law in nearly 75 years, would have allowed unions to sidestep employees' current right to vote in a private, Federal government-supervised election in organizing campaigns. Under the bill, unions would have been guaranteed the right to represent workers by the National Labor Relations Board if they collected signed authorization cards from fifty percent plus one of employees in a bargaining jurisdiction -- a process known as "card check" -- during a union organizing effort.
After gaining certification, the union and employer would have 90 days to agree on a contract governing all terms of employment conditions. If an agreement could not be reached during this time period, negotiations would be referred to a government mediation agency. Finally, if 30 days of mediation failed to bring about an agreement between union and management, an arbitrator would step in and establish a mandatory two-year contract that would be binding on both labor and management.
SHRM argued that a private ballot election is the best way to protect the privacy of individual workers to vote their conscience on whether or not to join a union. Moreover, SHRM conveyed that HR professionals, management and employees would have little ability to shape the terms of contracts sent to binding arbitration after only 120 days. Director of Government Affairs Mike Aitken articulated SHRM's views in a June 22 letter to the Senate in opposition to the card check bill.