Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), who did not take part in the introduction Tuesday of the Employee Free Choice Act, had his statement on S. 560 entered into the Congressional Record. You can read it here.
Senator Kennedy has a vision of how the binding arbitration provisions would work:
In the rare instance when the mediation process fails, the bill provides for binding arbitration, which will be handled by a panel of highly qualified arbitrators who have long experience in developing contract provisions that are fair to both sides. This type of arbitration is a tried-and-true method of resolving contract disputes that is already used in the rail and airline industries, and for public sector workers in at least 25 States.
But the bill’s text:
`(3) If after the expiration of the 30-day period beginning on the date on which the request for mediation is made under paragraph (2), or such additional period as the parties may agree upon, the Service is not able to bring the parties to agreement by conciliation, the Service shall refer the dispute to an arbitration board established in accordance with such regulations as may be prescribed by the Service. The arbitration panel shall render a decision settling the dispute and such decision shall be binding upon the parties for a period of 2 years, unless amended during such period by written consent of the parties.’.
There’s no reference in the legislation to “highly qualified arbitrators who have long experience in developing contract provisions that are fair to both sides.” That’s a good hope, even a reasonable expectation, but we have no way of knowing how the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service will handle binding arbitration, AKA government-mandated wages and benefits.
The House bill is H.R. 1409.
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