Will There Be an End-Run Around the EFCA?

After months of moribundity, the Employee Free Choice Act (“EFCA”) is showing signs of life. Or at least alternative means of imposing some of the major changes included in EFCA, such as greatly decreasing the time of an election campaign and limiting employers’ ability to actively participate in union elections, are being considered. It all depends on the possible confirmation of Craig Becker, whose nomination to the NLRB has been stalled in the Senate but was recently voted out of committee on a party line vote.

The theory goes that if Becker, who is currently Associate General Counsel of the SEIU, is confirmed by the full Senate, giving former union lawyers a 3-2 majority on the Board, strange (and bad) things may occur. Becker’s past published writings include such one-sided suggestions as excluding employers from participating in pre-election hearings to determine an appropriate bargaining unit, preventing employers from alleging that union campaign conduct coerced employees, and prohibiting employers from conducting mandatory meetings of employees at any time during the campaign (instead of only during the 24 hours before the election, as at present).

Given Becker’s extreme views, the theory goes, new NLRB Chairperson Wilma Liebman should have no trouble getting the majority of the Board to agree to embark on expanded rulemaking and in that fashion, impose many of the EFCA changes indirectly. Liebman has made no secret of her interest in having the Board expand its rulemaking activity, instead of limiting itself to ruling on cases presented to it.

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