Government-Forced Contracts are Card Check’s Real Threat

The Employee Free Choice Act includes a Card Check section to eliminate the secret ballot in union organization elections. The outcry against this antidemocratic process may result in its removal. But even with Card Check removed, the most insidious section of the bill will still remain.

Card Check’s third section, innocuously called “Facilitating Initial Collective Bargaining Agreements,” would go much further than simply “facilitating.” It would allow the government to impose a contract on many businesses and workers who would otherwise negotiate terms for themselves.

Businesses and workers would have only 120 days to negotiate and agree to possibly hundreds of pages of contract terms and conditions until one side could force the other to accept the two-year government-imposed contact. Card Check calls the process “arbitration,” but the procedure described in the bill is known as compulsory binding interest arbitration, which is quite different from the arbitration most people know.

Most arbitration in the private sector is known as grievance arbitration. Here, an arbitrator is voluntarily chosen to interpret an existing contract, which was originally freely agreed to by both parties. Everyone is there because they choose to be.

Card Check, on the other hand, would allow one party to force the other into compulsory binding- interest arbitration. Both parties would be required to abide by terms of a contract to which neither had previously agreed. Essentially, it would impose a contract on a party against its will.

This allows the government to write a contract from scratch, going much further than the traditional role of an arbitrator interpreting existing terms. Even if a representative of a newly formed union requested arbitration the workers would still have little say in the final outcome.

Unlike today where the workers can vote on an agreement, Card Check would give a union representative the power to present the union’s position to the arbitrator. The arbitrator would then create the contract, essentially erasing the worker from the final decision.

The arbitrator will have say over every aspect of the working relationship between the workers and the employer. This includes pay, work schedules, safety, health benefits, vacation, and possibly forcing workers into a union’s under-funded pension plan.

This harsh arbitration will be run by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which is headed by a political appointee. Politics could enter the arbitrator’s decision. One party may request an arbitrator knowing they supported the administration in power, expecting to be rewarded by a favorable contract.

Abolishing the secret ballot in the workplace incentivizes the most depraved instincts of labor officials to pressure and intimidate workers into joining their union; the arbitration section of Card Check rewards the worst instincts of government, to arbitrarily impose its will on private businesses.