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Defeating EFCA is the Highest Priority for Small Businesses

Small businesses across the country are facing the most daunting piece of legislation targeted at them in decades-the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). In spite of its rosy name, EFCA has nothing to do with providing employees with more choice. It has everything to do with relinquishing control of the most basic managerial rights of business owners to union bosses.

Virginia has benefited from Right to Work laws for more than sixty years, longer than any other state in the nation. These laws protect workers by preventing unions from requiring membership as a condition of employment. They have also insulated businesses from the perils of overreaching collective bargaining agreements, which has unfortunately crippled entire industries vital to the economies of states like Michigan. EFCA would take away these vital protections.

It’s unclear exactly how our state laws and a new federal law would be reconciled, but needless to say it’s a slippery slope toward compulsory unionism. EFCA calls for “card checks” to be used for organizing purposes, which could lead to unions materializing overnight. A card check process would essentially replace democratic elections where secret ballots are used to certify unions. Instead, out-of-state union organizers could manipulate the workforce and establish unions where there is, in fact, little authentic employee support. Employers may not even have the chance to discuss the matter with their employees because these coercive campaigns are often conducted in secret.

The law would also force businesses to negotiate employment contracts with unions within a 90-day time frame. Of course, this arbitrary deadline would hardly foster fair and good-faith bargaining. Unions know that once that time is up, EFCA’s binding arbitration provision would place all decisions related to employees in the hands of a federal arbitrator. That includes wages, hours, bonuses, advancement and so on. It’s likely that these Washington bureaucrats will be calling the shots for employers without the requisite knowledge of your business plan and long-term strategy.

To say EFCA would hurt Virginia’s competitiveness is a considerable understatement. Businesses in Virginia have survived for years because they have had the flexibility and efficiency necessary to outlast their rivals in other states. Our economic development is bolstered because Right to Work states on average have a higher standard of living, more after-tax income, and better purchasing power. Jobs are more stable, too.

The fact is Virginia is faring better during this painful recession than many other states because of our favorable business climate.
Furthermore, start-ups as well as existing businesses seeking to develop capital projects will find that it is far more difficult to get credit or find investors in an EFCA-regulated world. Virginia’s freedom from unions has historically driven dollars into the state because investors are willing to back entrepreneurs and management teams they believe in. But with unions and arbitrators in control, that becomes a far riskier proposition.

This is a very precarious time for all of us who believe small businesses are the foundation of our economy. Defeating EFCA is one of NFIB’s highest priorities right now. We must communicate our concern not only to lawmakers, but also our fellow business owners, our own employees, our customers and community leaders. The votes in the U.S. Senate are very close right now, so the leadership and advocacy of organizations like the NFIB can really make a difference. I am certainly committed to doing everything I can to defeat this dangerous legislation, and I hope you will join our efforts as well.

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