From the Wall St. Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124165589943894201.html
Provision to Ease Unionization Likely to Drop Out of Bill
By KRIS MAHER
Senators are working on a compromise version of a labor-organizing bill that will likely drop a contentious card-signing provision in favor of a speedier union election process, according to people familiar with the talks.
The proposed compromise on the Employee Free Choice Act also seeks greater use of mediation and would restrict the authority of arbitrators to impose contracts. The bill in its original form would make it easier for unions to organize workers by getting them to sign cards and would force companies to enter contracts.
Efforts to reach agreement on the bill are gaining momentum now that Democrats are on the verge of having 60 Senate votes. Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who supports overhauling labor law, switched parties last week. In March, Mr. Specter said he wouldn't support the Employee Free Choice Act, but laid out a number of principles for revising labor laws "to expand labor's clout in collective bargaining."
Compromise talks are being led by Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa), the bill's lead sponsor in the Senate. Kate Cyrul, a spokeswoman for Mr. Harkin, declined to comment on details of the compromise being discussed. But she said the senator "remains confident that we can address these issues without compromising the core provisions of the bill."
Among the changes being discussed are dropping the card-signing provision and setting a 21-day deadline for an election to be held -- about the half the median of 40 days that union elections currently take, according to people familiar with the talks. An aide for Mr. Specter said the senator is "generally supportive" of the idea that an election must be held within 21 days if the employer wants a secret ballot.
Another compromise relates to contract negotiations. The bill currently calls for arbitrators to set contracts if an employer and a new union fail to agree within 120 days. Under a compromise, mediators -- rather than arbitrators -- would play a bigger role in helping the sides negotiate a contract. Arbitrators could still be used to rule on certain contract provisions after both sides failed to agree.
"The issue of government arbitrators telling an employer how to run their business is not something the employer community is going to accept," said Michael Eastman, executive director of labor policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Bill Samuel, director of government affairs for the AFL-CIO, says the labor federation wants any final bill to include some form of arbitration to ensure that new unions eventually get a contract. "Without arbitration being triggered at some point, this bill won't work to address the endless delays in bargaining that employers use to avoid reaching a settlement," he said.
—Melanie Trottman contributed to this article.
Write to Kris Maher at firstname.lastname@example.org
Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A4
FYI: The vid above has info on how to start a union, as well as how the EFCA bill would affect this.