Monday, November 17, 2008

Binding arbitration in EFCA 

In an op-ed this morning, a former official of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service who identifies herself as a Democrat speaks out against the Employee Free Choice Act. Potentially to be wedded to a stimulus bill (that would make it very difficult to veto), the bill has provisions beyond card-check that Ariella Bernstein finds troubling. The bill requires binding arbitration after the card-check authorization of a union has taken place if terms are not agreed to, which could have grave consequences for labor and management in a recession:
When contract terms are imposed, it absolves the parties of their responsibility to compromise, a critical component of labor-management relations. Conflict resolution professionals rightfully claim that parties to a contract must have "buy in"; they must be part of a joint conciliatory process when reaching terms of a contract that governs their relationship.

And what about the cost of EFCA to Main Street employers, already under pressure in this economy? With companies struggling to survive and the credit markets tightening, passing this bill does not guarantee widespread unionized employment or wage increases.

Case in point: In Canada, after an arbitrator imposed the terms of a contract last month, Wal-Mart was forced to close one of its facilities because of higher costs. Arbitration does not always help employees.

Yet one more reason EFCA is a bad idea. And, of course, there's hypocrisy noted by John Fund in today's Political Diary:
Last year, Democratic Senators voted for so-called "card check" legislation that would have deprived millions of employees of the right to vote secretly on whether they want to be represented by a labor union. Tomorrow many of those same Democratic Senators will insist on using a secret ballot process to determine whether Joe Lieberman will be stripped of his chairmanship of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

That same day, Republican Senators are likely to use a secret ballot to decide whether to expel convicted colleague Ted Stevens from their caucus. Later in January, the House Democratic Caucus will use a secret ballot to determine whether Michigan Rep. John Dingell keeps his chairmanship of the House Energy & Commerce Committee against a challenge from California Rep. Henry Waxman.
Most Republican senators, it should be noted, opposed EFCA; no hypocrisy should be ascribed there.

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