Card Check: Misrepresentations II

By April 10, 2009Labor Unions

Turning again to the compactly presented distortions of the column “Why workers need the Employee Free Choice Act” in Thursday’s San Francisco Chronicle, the author David Bacon makes these claims:

With the Employee Free Choice Act, after 120 days of fruitless bargaining on a first-time contract, an arbitrator can resolve the issues still in dispute. Companies say they fear an outsider imposing unrealistic conditions. But with no mechanism to force agreement, companies know it’s lots cheaper to wait out the year than to raise wages and provide better benefits.

Can resolve the issues still in dispute: That’s not what the legislation says. Here’s the language in S. 560 and H.R. 1409:

`(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 can there. There’s a shall. Neither is there any mention in the legislation of Bacon’s “the issues still in dispute.” There’s just the phrase that “the arbitration panel shall render a decision settling the dispute.”

Given the tremendous discretion and authority held by the arbitrator, companies are well justified in fearing that an outsider might impose unrealistic conditions.

How does Bacon respond to that fear? By just ignoring it, by changing the subject: “But with no mechanism to force agreement, companies know it’s lots cheaper to wait out the year than to raise wages and provide better benefits.” That’s just an assertion, assuming bad faith on the part of companies.

Turning against to J. Justin Wilson’s study of National Labor Relations Board data, here’s the reality about delayed elections: “[The] NLRB reports that the median length of time between employees submitting an election petition and voting is 39 days, and 93 percent of elections are held within 56 days.”

A small percentage of first-contract negotiations do extend past 120 days, that’s true. But given the stakes — the contract will set the foundation for all further management-labor negotiations — taking the time may be reasonable.

Bacon’s column flows pretty well, the sign of a good writer. The distortions, misstatements of facts, and ad hominem arguments also flow, the sign of a writer trying to make the case for legislation that cannot stand on its own merits.

 

 

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