Politics

Reason Writers Around Town: Shikha Dalmia on the Employee Free Choice Act and the Advancing Union Juggernaut

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With the installation of Al Franken in the Senate and yet another change of heart by Arlen "Flip-Flop" Specter, Democrats might well have a fillibuster-proof majority to ramrod the top item on Big Labor's wish list: The Employee Free Choice Act. So far much of the attention has gone to the bill's card check provision that would allow Big Labor to herd workers into a union without bothering with such democratic niceties as elections and secret ballots. But card check has an evil twin: The binding arbitration provision that has brought ruin to nearly every city where it has been tried, including Detroit, where Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia lives.

As Dalmia writes in The Wall Street Journal:

Under normal circumstances, when employers and workers negotiate an initial contract they are required by law to bargain in good faith until they come to an agreement. If they reach an impasse, workers can call a strike. But because a strike is costly for both sides there is a strong incentive for them to concede as much as possible to reach a compromise. However, since emergency personnel—firefighters, police and the like—are barred from going on strike in many states, about 20 states have embraced some form of compulsory bargaining. If the two sides can't agree on a contract within a prescribed time, either one can invite a three-member panel jointly selected by the union, city, and the state government to intervene and impose a settlement. This process is supposed to install a contract expeditiously.

But what does binding arbitration really do? Read all about it here.

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  1. That is the WHOLE problem with the US today. Unions! They are blood sucking bottom feeding organizations that have literally bled the companies dry!

    RT
    http://www.privacy.cz.tc

  2. There is talk that Warner of Virginia may vote for cloture and then be given an out by voting against the bill. There are actually a few people on here who think Warner is a good guy. Bullshit. If that crapweasel votes for cloture, he is a piece of shit and every person on here who ever said anything good about him ought to hand their head in shame. I also recall a lot of people on here being so happy to see Warner beat Web. Well, if Warner votes for cloture, I wonder if they are going to be happy then.

  3. Another Reason commentary on EFCA, another load of crap.

    1) Workplaces are hardly democratic to begin with, and the drawn out secret ballot has been misused by companies to intimidate workers frequently.

    2) The binding arbitration provision only applies to the first contract where the union is most vulnerable to bad faith tactics by the employer, and these are used often.

    One final point. If those who are against EFCA do so because they believe it’s a violation of worker’s rights, how do they feel about enacting legal protections to guard against arbitrary dismissal? Just asking.

  4. classwarrior,

    That is a great idea. Lets make it so it is impossible for businesses to fire anyone or lay anyone off without playing mother may I with the courts. That will ensure prosperity for everyone. As a matter of fact, why don’t we just pass a law making it illegal to fire anyone for any reason. Then we would have 100% employment. Wouldn’t that be great.

    It astounds me that people as stupid as you actually exist. Your views and understanding of the employment market are that of a 13 year old who doesn’t understand that his parents don’t own the electric company.

  5. I thought the problem EFCA was having was a significant number of Dem Senators have cold feet, being worried (as they should be) about getting re-elected if they vote for this dog.

    And no, voting for cloture and then voting against the bill should not be a free pass. If you are opposed to a bill, then you have an obligation to kill it via parliamentary procedure if you can.

  6. classwarrior is joe???

  7. “classwarrior is joe???”

    that is actually an insult to Joe.

  8. One final point. If those who are against EFCA do so because they believe it’s a violation of worker’s rights, how do they feel about enacting legal protections to guard against arbitrary dismissal? Just asking.

    What point do you think you’re making here? If one supports freedom of association, then being against EFCA and for the right of employers to “arbitrarily” dismiss someone (whatever that even means) is entirely consistent.

  9. I’m ambivelent about even allowing the existence of public empoloyee union. They should be prohibited from striking. If you want a pay raise make a case with the voters or vote with your feet. The volunteers in the military have been operating under those constraints since the founding of the nation.

    Fucking cops and water works employees deserve no better.

  10. If those who are against EFCA do so because they believe it’s a violation of worker’s rights, how do they feel about enacting legal protections to guard against arbitrary dismissal? Just asking.

    Another fucking dope who believes businesses exist solely for the purpose of “creating jobs” (whether those jobs add value to the enterprise or not). If you want to protect yourself against “arbitrary dismissal” work for yourself. Or, better yet, be good at what you do.

  11. Sometimes I think the cops should work for tips. It might help them remember who they *really* work for.

  12. “Sometimes I think the cops should work for tips. It might help them remember who they *really* work for.”

    There are a lot of places in the world were they essentially do. The problem is that when you need a cop, you really need a cop. They also have that whole arrest power thing. Working for tips quickly turns into working for extortion money.

  13. “”Sometimes I think the cops should work for tips. It might help them remember who they *really* work for.””

    I believe that’s what’s known as the Nigerian Model.

  14. Reality check: my company once wanted to make a substantial investment in a French company. Once we got a look at the employment laws there, we backed away. AFAIK the French company still has not been able to attract any outside capital. Temporarily a real good deal for current employees, not so good for potential employees.

  15. Sometimes I think the cops should work for tips. It might help them remember who they *really* work for.

    Never heard of a bribe? Or let me ask you this, who do you think the cops really work for?

  16. 1. How does a 60 seat Senate == a “ramrod” as opposed to mere “passage”. Assuming you think there’s something to the U.S.’s version of a democratic republic, doesn’t the election of 60 senators.

    2. How is this exclusively “Big Labor’s” wish list as opposed to just the wish list of many people n the left.

    And, on the off chance that this is not parodic:

    That is the WHOLE problem with the US today. Unions! They are blood sucking bottom feeding organizations that have literally bled the companies.

    Yes, yes. It’s ALL the union’s fault…

  17. The problem with employment protection laws is encapsulated as follows:

    “Hard to fire, hard to hire.”

    Or, why hire a lawsuit?

  18. the drawn out secret ballot has been misused by companies to intimidate workers frequently.

    Really? I’d like to hear some examples of how secret ballots are misused for intimidation. Also, please explain how a non-secret ballot reduces the opportunities for intimidation.

  19. My completely unrealistic “cops should work for tips” comment is really a reference to what are commonly referred to as victimless crimes.

    If you steal my shotgun/car/wallet, and the cops catch you and return it, I would be willing to reward them. If I am growing dope in my back yard, and they come arrest me, I will not reward them. In this way, the Rainbow Puppy Island Police Dept will be encouraged to concentrate on crimes with actual victims, rather than lifestyle issues.

    The potential for abuse, as has been pointed out, is virtually limitless; the cops could just as easily devote their time to coercing me to reward them for *not* arresting me. But I can dream, by gosh!

  20. JsubD makes a good point. We should unionize the military!

    (joke)

  21. Anti-Union, anti-Worker corporate fascists such as Shikha Dalmia have been shrewdly deploying their casuistry to ravage the middle class with their version of class warfare for the past thirty years. NOW is the time to correct the lopsided this power structure and support issues such as EFCA.

    http://www.aflcio.org/joinaunion/voiceatwork/efca/

    http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/employee-free-choice-act/

    http://www.freechoiceact.org/petition/

    http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/07/10/the-employee-free-choice-act-from-2003-to-today/

  22. Shut the fuck up, John Bryans Fontaine.

  23. And- Fuck the AFL-CIO.

  24. I can’t stand unions as they are organized in the US today. I do think individuals have a right to get together and bargain, but having laws on the books that grant them what amounts to a 20 ton thumb on the scale of justice has completely screwed things up. Taking away anonymity in a process that has traditionally tried to bully everyone and anyone involved is a mistake. The system is lopsided, it favors unions heavily.

    I’ve also seen the arbitration argument first hand. The city I worked for had someone who tried to push this through along with unionization. Thankfully even the majority liberal workers in the city realized that their ability to negotiate and bargain as individuals or departments was far superior to any union. When the people running the show are smart enough to talk to the people making the show run things work so much more smoothly. Forcing the two sides to run smoothly with a third party is like having your wife’s friend join in the argument over buying a $400 purse. One side is fucked and it isn’t the side buying the purse.

  25. The binding arbitration provision only applies to the first contract where the union is most vulnerable to bad faith tactics by the employer

    That’s like saying the new “Freedom to Rape” law you’re advocating only allows men to rape freely ONCE, since that first time is the time when women put up the toughest fight. [“In bad faith.”]

  26. Public employees should not be unionized. Period.

  27. Years ago I worked for a company whose employees had just voted in a union. Admittedly I was not an eyewitness to the actions of the company during the process, but I sure heard about them from my co-workers.

    The company had held weeks of compulsory meetings, on company time, to indoctrinate workers on the evils of union representation. Good well-qualified workers were let go, or passed over for promotion if they voiced support for a union. Supervisors talked to individual workers and made it clear that they needed to walk the company line to advance.

    Didn’t work that time. The workers united and voted in union representation. The evils of union representaion never materialized. The company prospered (beyond most expectations) and workers gained in increased wages and job security. That was a pretty good job for me and my family while I completed my education in night school.

    By the way, there were certain circumstances under which our negotiations might lead to binding arbitration. The only choices of the arbitrators would be to choose between the last best offers of the workers and the company. This forced both the union and the company not to overreach, and we never went to arbitration.

  28. The company had held weeks of compulsory meetings, on company time, to indoctrinate workers on the evils of union representation. Good well-qualified workers were let go, or passed over for promotion if they voiced support for a union. Supervisors talked to individual workers and made it clear that they needed to walk the company line to advance.

    So? It’s their property and you’re there on their dime.

  29. rm2muv

    I simply don’t believe you.

  30. rm2muv: Your story would be more convincing if you named the company.

  31. Good well-qualified workers were let go, or passed over for promotion if they voiced support for a union.
    The company prospered (beyond most expectations) and workers gained in increased wages and job security.

    How could they prosper if they fired all their “good” workers? Contradiction? Other variables?

    Supervisors talked to individual workers and made it clear that they needed to walk the company line to advance.

    Welcome to the private sector. If Bob pays you, you do what Bob wants while on Bob’s dime. Otherwise he fires your ass or you get to sweep floors for the rest of your career at Bob’s place.

    The evils of union representaion never materialized. The company prospered (beyond most expectations) and workers gained in increased wages and job security.

    Drawing the conclusion that the company prospered because of or in spite of the single unionization variable is absurd. For all we know it could have been a tech/housing bubble company that collapsed as soon as the favorable variables negating the unfavorable variables disappeared.

    I won’t even address the sampling size/time problem.

  32. PapayaSF:

    The company was Hollister-Stier Laboratories.

    hmm:

    I don’t believe I said it was a study – just one experience from my life.
    Nor did I say they fired all the “good” workers – just that some who voiced support for a union were let go or passed over.

    The best jobs I’ve held over the past 42 years in the workforce have been union jobs. Despite the continual portrayal of union workers as lazy and inefficient, I’ve never personally seen that in any of the people I worked with. To the contrary, those my co-workers and I worked hard to help the companies prosper and hoped to share in that prosperity.

    Like I said, just my experience, no research study.

  33. That was my point. Your experience is greatly biased, especially with respect to the argument. Maybe the best jobs have been union jobs for you. I don’t know your education or your field so it is possible that the best jobs for you are jobs that secure a higher rate of pay at the expense of someone else (the owner) rather than a fair rate of pay agreed upon by both. What is good for you is great, but it might be screwing someone else, especially when the playing field is as skewed as it is with regard to unions and employers. If you ware willing to work hard and help a company prosper why do you need someone else in the mix?

    I wouldn’t argue that union workers do not work hard. I know some who do. I will argue that entitlement is a fundamental principle of union labor, something I do not agree with. Labor is a contractual agreement between a person and their employer, when government steps in and gives unions more authority over the contract the agreement is no longer arms length and is inherently unfair.

    I didn’t take your comments as a study. I just wanted to point out the contradictions that often accompany union discussions.

  34. The best jobs I’ve held over the past 42 years in the workforce have been union jobs.

    This is not surprising. The problem is that unionized industries tend to become sclerotic, unresponsive to technological change, and eventually wither if not die. See: U.S. railroads, steel, automakers, film production leaving Hollywood, etc.

    Despite the continual portrayal of union workers as lazy and inefficient, I’ve never personally seen that in any of the people I worked with.

    Maybe, but it’s the union work rules that can be deadly to companies. Again, look at what happened to the unionized automakers. Or the BART system here: it turns out that it takes two people to replace a seat cover on a train car. Not that one person couldn’t do it, but because while a maintenance person can unsnap the snaps, only a journeyman mechanic is allowed to unscrew the two screws.

  35. But what does binding arbitration really do?

    Fucks over the taxpayers by giving the unions huge raises they couldn’t get by striking, as any anyone remotely libertarian or conservative in Hawaii has observed.

  36. Binding Arbitration is a one-way path to serfdom for workers.

    Under the oxymoronically-named Employee Free Choice Act, once binding arbitration kicks in, if employees had been tricked into unionization (under EFCA’s no-vote unionization provision) and the government imposes its contract on the employer and employees, employees..:

    1) CANNOT vote to ratify or reject the government contract

    2) CANNOT modify the government contract

    3) CANNOT kick the union out (for two years)

    4) and, perhaps most importantly, CANNOT strike in protest.

    Employees will be voiceless, powerless and left with two options: Either keep their mouths shut and accept it, or quit.

    However, when the best and brightest figure out this Hobson’s Choice and quit, then the unionized companies that have not closed will realize the brain drain that EFCA causes…

    Once the government figures out the destruction of EFCA on all parties (except the unions, of course), Directive 10-289 gets enacted.

    Can anyone else see Atlas Shrugging with this bill?

    For more info on today’s unions: Go to 1-888-NO-UNION.COM

  37. Saying “Fuck [insert entity of choice]!” is a curious debating tactic to find on a site entitled “Reason,” but I suppose we live in harsh times.

    Comments so far seem divided between those who are virulently, not so profanely, opposed to EFCA, and those who understand that union membership has almost disappeared in this country over the last thirty years (down to 7.5% in the public sector: http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/tables/09s0644.pdf), during which middle- and working-class incomes have remained stagnant or declined while the wealthy few have increased their wealth by huge margins (“Almost all the benefits of economic growth since [the 1970s] have gone to a small number of people at the very top.” -Robert Reich, Financial Times, Jan. 29, 2008, at http://www.minneapolisfed.org/publications_papers/pub_display.cfm?id=4049).

    EFCA seeks to restore some balance to workers who are seeking an equitable slice of the economic pie. It does NOT disallow secret ballot elections, contrary to one striking piece of misinformation which is widespread throughout the web. See the National Labor Relations Act, Section 9(c)(B) at http://www.nlrb.gov/about_us/overview/national_labor_relations_act.aspx. The secret ballot election remains an option when a “substantial number of employees wish to be represented by collective bargaining,” and that number falls below 50 percent. In this case, the NLRB will continue to “direct an election by secret ballot and shall certify the results thereof.”

    The new alternative which, again, does NOT replace the secret ballot method now the status quo, cuts to the chase and allows the NLRB to certify an individual or organization as an employee representative upon determining that a MAJORITY of employees have expressed an interest in having that representation. If, as seems likely, those employees will be asked to mail in their cards in private, representation gained in this manner may be said to be equivalent to that gained through a successful secret ballot election.

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