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
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