One of the many outstanding presentations given at the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) Annual Meeting stands out as “need to know” information for the entire flexible packaging industry.

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), if passed, will make it easier for unions to organize employees and will make it harder for employers to campaign against unions. While most flexible packaging executives and business owners oppose the bill, proponents see EFCA as a way to improve workers’ compensation and balance what they see as unfair power companies have over their employees.

Even if your company already has unions, you need to know what this legislation will change about the unionization process and negotiations.

Among the major changes: Instead of a secret ballot election to vote in a union, a simple majority of signed union authorization cards will decide. Instead of being able to talk openly with employees about the pros and cons of unions, employers will face a civil penalty of up to $20,000 for each violation of labor practices under the National Labor Relations Act to affect the formation of a union.

According to FPA meeting presenter Thomas Smith, attorney at Jackson Lewis LLP, EFCA is going to happen in some form, probably this year. Smith’s advice?

• Train your supervisors on the company’s philosophy about unions.

• Educate employees about unions and EFCA before any new law is passed. This may be the only and last time they’ll be able to hear the employer’s side of the issue.

• Reassess and improve your employee-involvement programs. According to Smith, if you’re doing right by your employees, EFCA should not make a difference to your business.

The big deal about all this is to keep your company’s profitability in your control, not a union’s. The Printing Industries of America (PIA) prepared a formal response to EFCA. Part of PIA’s statement explains, “Mandatory binding arbitration would lock printing and graphic communications companies and employees into wages, benefits and other contract terms that would limit the industry’s ability to react in real time to market conditions.”

Congress is still debating EFCA. To learn both sides of the issue, Then add your voice to the debate by talking with representatives from FPA, PIA, Jackson Lewis LLP or others involved.