Worse than you think

The National Association of Manfacturers Shop Talk blog, run so ably by Pat Cleary, continues to be my go-to place for coverage of the so-called Employee Free Choice Act passed by the House as the Dems gift to its union supporters. Because of limitations on my time and the desire to blog about other matters, I don’t think I’ve really conveyed just how bad this legislation is. Here are some of its key provisions:

A union will be certified as the bargaining representative of employees upon its presentation to the National Labor Relations Board of cards by a majority of employees in the bargaining unit. In other words, no election. So instead of making the decision about whether to be represented by a union in private and in secret, employees can be subjected to all manner of coercion.
Collective bargaining must begin within 10 days of a written request by the union.
If no collective bargaining agreement is reached within 90 days of commencement of bargaining, the parties must mediate.
If mediation is not successful within 30 days, an agreement will be imposed by an arbitrator, with the results binding for two years.

The card check provision is the biggest, and most commented upon, outrage. While the legislation calls on the National Labor Relations Board to issue regulations regarding the card-check process, no set of rules could conceivably provide the “laboratory conditions” that current law guarantees through the election process to ensure that employee choice of a bargaining representative is uncoerced.
The rule that bargaining must commence immediately would be defensible in my view if we were talking about a union selected in a proper election. Employers sometimes undermine a new union’s credibility by delaying the commencement of bargaining.
However, the compulsory arbitration provision strikes me as another outrage because in practice it means that many employers will have their labor costs dictated, in effect, by the government. Employers presently are required by law to bargain in good faith, so unions already have a remedy for bad faith bargaining. I’m not aware of any evidence that the system requires this sort of statist fix. Compulsory arbitration has traditionally been viewed as a means of preventing strikes but the incidence of strikes is low, which suggests (but does not prove) that the present system of collective bargaining works.
There are other flawed provisions of the House Democrats’ bill, most of which pertain to various backpay and penalty provisions. For now, I’ll deem discussion of these matters overkill.
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