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The Employee Free Choice Act: Free Choice or No Choice for Workers?

Tuesday October 2008


Richard A. Epstein Visiting Scholar, Center for Legal Policy at the Manhattan Institute, James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago, Peter and Kirstin Bedford Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

In his second presentation this fall, Manhattan Institute visiting scholar Richard A. Epstein, one of the nation’s most prolific legal thinkers, will speak about the two transformative provisions of the Employee Free Choice Act, a proposed amendment to national labor laws certain to be high on the congressional wish list in 2009. This legislation promises to have a dramatic impact on the rate of unionization and the power of unions.

The act would eliminate secret ballot union elections, imposing instead a “card check” system in which union organizers can directly solicit support for union membership. Due to the potential for coercion, this proposed change has already generated a significant amount of public attention. Less well-publicized is the act’s second major proposed change, a regime of compulsory arbitration in which an arbitrator will impose a two-year union “contract” after 130 days of failed negotiation. Professor Epstein will review the arguments about the act, pro and con, and explain why unfair labor practices are only a small part of the story.