The Employee Free Choice Act and the South

February 17, 2009
The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)1 is among the top items on President Obama’s legislative agenda; it was a clear campaign promise to a core constituency—organized labor. Most Southern business and political leaders strongly oppose EFCA’s practical elimination of secret ballot union representation elections, as well as its imposition of labor contracts through government-controlled interest arbitration. They see EFCA as a rustbelt eff ort to impose a failed business model on sunbelt employers. Because EFCA is perceived to threaten decades of social and economic development progress, aggrieved state legislatures may well retaliate by passing laws that purport to regulate union organizing, strikes, and related activities already regulated by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Opponents of such state laws may argue, based on decades of judicial decisions, that the NLRA pre-empts state  regulation of labor relations. Southern business and political leaders are already preparing to fi ght this battle....