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The Employee Free Choice Act is a bill in the U.S. Congress first introduced in 2003 by California Rep. George Miller. In March 2007, the House passed EFCA for the first time. The Senate did not collect the sufficient 60 votes for “cloture” to move the bill to an up or down vote.

On February 3, 2009 University of Chicago law school professor Richard A. Epstein published an in-depth monograph exploring the history of union organizing law and the effects of EFCA. The abstract for that publication reads: “EFCA would fundamentally alter the current labor law in three ways.” He explains:

  • The first of these is to allow unions to opt for recognition through a card check instead of the secret ballot currently required under the National Labor Relations Act.
  • The second would institute a regime, if the parties do not reach an agreement within 130 days after the union is recognized, of compulsory arbitration and arbitrator-imposed requirements and restrictions, binding for a two-year period.
  • The third would increase the current sanctions for unfair labor practices committed by employers during an organizational campaign.

Epstein’s study examined all three issues and led him to conclude:

My major thesis is that all of these changes are unwise deviations from the status quo that will introduce unwise dislocations in labor markets that are not justified by the current union claim that the decline of unionization in the private sector is largely attributable to improper employer intransigence. The better explanations focus on structural changes in ordinary labor markets in an increasingly globalized economy, which shows similar downturns in union representation in developed nations, often operating under different legal regimes.

Click here to read the study, which was financially supported by the Alliance to Save Main Street Jobs.


The public still lacks information about EFCA, but what it does understand it does not like. In January 2009, Wilson Research Strategies conducted a poll testing the public’s knowledge and perceptions of the bill. WRS found:

  • Respondents were asked if they have