Although the AFL-CIO and supporters in Congress have repeatedly expressed confidence that they will have the votes to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, the AP reports:

Democratic leaders hinted Tuesday that compromise may be needed to get wavering lawmakers on board for a bill to make union organizing easier.

The Democrats insisted they are not losing support, but acknowledged that some changes might be needed.

The comments came as the Employee Free Choice Act was formally introduced in the House and Senate, intensifying the already heated debate between business groups that oppose the measure and labor groups that consider it their top priority.

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, a lead sponsor of the bill, said his colleagues are talking about "certain modifications," but no agreement has been reached.

With the threat of the filibuster firmly in place, EFCA proponents will likely need to consider significant modifications during the legislative process.  In the past, we have noted that key swing vote Senator Arlen Specter’s (R-PA) Policy Essay in the Harvard Journal of Legislation identifies several potential elements of alternative approaches to labor law reform.  The MLA White Paper on EFCA also contains an overview of many of these and other similar elements.

Yesterday, Workplace Prof’ Blog‘s Professor Jeffrey Hirsch also linked to an alternative labor law reform bill introduced by Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) — the National Labor Relations Modernization Act (H.R. 1355).  This law would:

  1. provide for mandatory arbitration following a 120-day mediation period, if after an initial 120 days of bargaining failed to result in an agreement;
  2. increase penalties against employers (similarly to EFCA’s proposed changes); and
  3. require an employer to provide equal access to the employees to union organizers once an election is ordered.

Hirsch questions whether this proposal might also provide the basis for some legislative compromise.