As I was saying …

Concerning "free choice"

In March, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) was introduced in the U.S. Congress. The bill would make two important changes to labor law. First, it would allow unions to organize simply by having a majority of eligible employees sign—or check—cards calling for union representation. Then, labor and management would have 120 days to agree to a contract; if they don't, they will be subject to a U.S. Department of Labor arbitrator's final binding decision.

This bill is bad on so many levels it is difficult to know where to begin. It would create all sorts of opportunities for abuse. Having the threat of binding arbitration present during negotiations provides a disincentive for constructive dialogue. And the time-honored notion of secret elections for something as important as unionization would be totally disregarded.

Suppose you have 20 field workers and EFCA is enacted. Once 11 of those workers check their names on a card, your company immediately falls under the rules and regulations of the National Labor Relations Board and you must immediately begin negotiating a contract with the local union. Knowing an arbitrator is looming if you don't come to an agreement will make it extremely difficult to have a reasonable negotiation. And if the arbitrator steps in and makes decisions, you will be left with no recourse.

The measure's proponents argue it would restore balance to the labor-management equation and the playing field has too long been tilted in favor of management.