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Employee Free Choice Act II


The Employee Free Choice Act (“EFCA”), almost certain to pass early next year if Sen. Obama is elected, requires that initial collective bargaining agreements be negotiated within 120 days of the union’s request for bargaining, otherwise the “contract” will be written by an arbitrator.

Some of the commentary responding to my observations about EFCA’s mandatory arbitration provisions emphasized the benefits to workers of getting a contract done quickly; no longer can employers drag out negotiations to the point that employees want to get rid of the union. Under EFCA, the employees will get a “contract” in a more timely fashion.

False. They won’t get a contract.

Under EFCA, the terms set by the arbitrator will be the furthest thing from a “contract.” It won’t be an agreement between management and labor. Rather, wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment will be dictated by a government appointed arbitrator. The mandate will be binding on the parties for two years. Neither the company nor the employees can reject it (At least when the Central Committee set the wages for tractor assembly workers in the Leningradskaya oblast there was always the possibility that the wages might change later that afternoon).

Currently, if employees don’t like the tentative agreement negotiated between union leaders and management the employees can vote it down and instruct their leaders to go back to the bargaining table to get a better deal. Not so under EFCA. If the employees don’t like the arbitrator’s decree of a 2% wage increase, they’re stuck. Similarly, if the company can’t afford the arbitrator’s command to pyramid overtime, the company’s stuck. The consequences aren’t difficult to imagine.


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