More comment from around the web regarding today’s news that Senator Harkin’s (D-IA) EFCA compromise efforts appear to maintain some form of mandatory interest arbitration in the bill. Elsewhere in today’s Wall Street Journal, former Senator George McGovern expands upon his previously stated opposition to EFCA, taking exception to the arbitration provisions:
My perspective on the so-called Employee Free Choice Act is informed by life experience. After leaving the Senate in 1981, I spent some time running a hotel. It was an eye-opening introduction to something most business operators are all-too familiar with — the difficulty of controlling costs and setting prices in a weak economy. Despite my trust in government, I would have been alarmed by an outsider taking control of basic management decisions that determine success or failure in a business where I had invested my life savings.
When it comes to labor disputes, both parties should be guaranteed a real chance for compromise under the joint economic threat of contract breakdowns. George Meany, president of the AFL-CIO for nearly 30 years before retiring in 1979, had it right in condemning mandatory arbitration as "an abrogation of freedom."
ShopFloor.org expands upon McGovern’s piece:
Organized labor regards the right of the worker to withhold his labor as almost sacred, a core principle they fought to defend and write into law. And now labor’s leaders want to abandon that principle under the guise of “free choice.”
It’s hard to believe that the rank and file really want to surrender their rights just because labor bosses tell them to.
Finally, Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Hudson Institute writes:
Binding arbitration could have even more pernicious consequences than ending the secret ballot. It would allow an undefined arbitration board, appointed by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, itself headed by a political appointee, to set compensation packages for firms and workers that they would be forced to accept.
Unlike voluntary arbitration, the parties would not have an opportunity to choose members of the panel, nor would they have recourse to a higher authority, such as the courts, if they were dissatisfied with the results. Workers could be required to accept lower salaries and less vacation than they could get elsewhere, and firms could be forced into unproductive agreements that could eventually lead to bankruptcy.
With just a few lines of legislative language, Congress would revoke for newly-organized firms the principle of free collective bargaining—that employers and unions may walk away from a contract they find unsatisfactory.