An undemocratic agenda, part 1

The proposed legislation that a Democratic Congress with enhanced Democratic majorities stands poised to pass ranges from the destructive to the abominable and the tyrannical. Indeed, much of it — like, for example, the Fairness Doctrine — is all of the above.

Another such bill is organized labor’s Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800). In terms of truth in labeling — another feature it shares with the Fairness Doctrine — this bill could have been inspired by 1984‘s MInistry of Truth.

The bill is designed to put an end to the secret ballot on which workplace unionization is based under federal labor law. Rather, union certification would be premised on the signing of cards supporting unionizatoin by a majority of employees.

Under federal labor law, the signing of authorization cards by 30 percent of an employee unit is the predicate to a secret ballot election following a campaign in which both labor and management make their cases to the affected workforce. According to data compiled by the National Labor Relations Board, in recent years unions have lost about 40 percent of such elections.

The Heritage Foundation has posted a superb backgrounder on the EFCA. The backgrounder provides a wealth of information on the defects of a card check system as a substitute for secret ballot elections.

The American people themselves would never buy a system that is predicated on the abrogation of secret ballot elections, but they might get one. It would represent the biggest change in federal labor law since the adoption of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, if not since the adoption of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935.

Newspaper articles discussing the EFCA — such as this Los Angeles Times article — focus on the abrogation of the secret ballot. Yet the EFCA would also work another change that is almost equally profound and rarely mentioned in such articles. It goes unmentioned, for example, in the Los Angeles Times article.

As the Heritage backgrounder explains, section 3 of the EFCA would require companies and newly certified unions to enter binding arbitration if they cannot reach agreement on an initial contract after 90 days of negotiations. Thus arbitrators would be empowered to impose the terms and conditions of employment for newly unionized workers. Neither companies nor employees could appeal the arbitrator’s ruling regarding terms, and the contract would last for two years.

I’m afraid that the EFCA may not the worst of what the Democrats will have on offer in the next Congress, but it is bad, and it would be a mistake to forget about it before the Obama administration comes to power.

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