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HR Issues Update - 02/09/2007
Federal Affairs

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New legislation in the House of Representatives could eliminate the American workers’ right to cast private ballots in union-organizing elections.

Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, introduced the Employee Free Choice Act along with 230 of his House colleagues. The Act would make public a worker’s vote on whether a union should serve as the bargaining representative for an organization’s employees.

Organized labor and employers allow employees to choose whether to be represented by a union in one of two ways: 1) a secret ballot election under National Labor Relations Board rules, or 2) a “card check” process, whereby union officials ask employees to sign a card demonstrating support for a union. Rep. Miller’s proposal would eliminate the secret ballot option and the federal government’s supervisory role.

SHRM is a member of the Steering Committee of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, formed to guarantee the continued right of workers to freely choose whether to be represented by a union. The Society’s concern is that a public vote could lead to a hostile work environment, employee intimidation and the removal of “free choice” in a workplace election.

In 2005, SHRM’s board of directors adopted a policy statement on Employee Representation Rightsnoting, “SHRM believes that government-supervised secret-ballot elections are the best process for representation and decertification elections” under the National Labor Relations Act.

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