To avoid falling into the bad, inside-the-Beltway habit of viewing all things through the lens of politics, we stress that the Employee Free Choice Act is not just a campaign issue, but is also a disaster for employers and employees alike.
This letter in The Detroit News explains why the binding arbitration provisions – an element in any supposed legislative “compromise” — are economically damaging:
Secret ballot is best for union votes
Gregory Saltzman’s Feb. 18 column, “Arbitration solves labor strife,” fails to mention the most onerous provision of this bill, which is mandatory union recognition once a union gets 50 percent of employees to sign cards. The Employee Free Choice Act would take away employees’ democratic right to decide on a union in a secret ballot election. It is a fact that employees who sign a union card, usually in front of a union organizer, probably in the presence of fellow employees, will often change his or her mind in the privacy of the voting booth.
First-contract arbitration under the Employee Free Choice Act is another bad idea. This is known as interest arbitration and is rarely used except in situations where strikes cannot be tolerated, such as with police and firefighters unions.
The Employee Free Choice Act provides that if the parties fail to settle a first agreement within a certain amount of time, any outstanding issues are submitted to an arbitrator, or panel of arbitrators, who would decide disputed issues and impose a final and binding decision on both parties for a two-year period.
Parties to first contracts could arbitrate their issues now, but rarely do, because they would be turning over their wages, benefits and working conditions to a third party who probably has little or no expertise in the parties’ business, no practical experience in their operations and, most important, will not have to live with the consequences of the decision.
The very important business of labor relations and bargaining is best left to the parties involved, no matter how imperfect the process may be.
James Wahlman , Troy
(Hat tip: The Truth about EFCA)
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