Liberal former U.S. Senator George McGovern smacks down Congressional Democrats again. Last year he spoke out against the so-called Employee “Free Choice” Act for depriving workers of the secret ballot. Yesterday McGovern explains in a Wall Street Journal op-ed why the binding arbitration provisions in the bill is equally bad:
Currently, labor law maintains a careful balance between the rights of businesses, unions and individual employees. While bargaining power differs depending on individual circumstances, the rights of the parties are well balanced. When a union and a business enter negotiations, current law requires that both sides bargain “in good faith.”
In a contract negotiation, each party typically perceives the other as too demanding. But no one loses their right to contract willingly or suffers being forced to agree to anything. Employees can strike if they feel that they have been dealt with unfairly, but it is a costly option. Employers are free to reject labor demands they find to be too difficult to accept, but running a business without experienced employees is itself difficult. Both sides have an incentive to press their demands, but they also have compelling reasons not to press their demands too far. EFCA would disrupt that balance by enabling government-appointed lawyers to decide what they believe is fair or reasonable.
A federally appointed arbitrator cannot be expected to understand the nuances specific to each business dispute, the competitive market position of the business, or the plethora of other factors unique to each case. Yet fundamental decisions on wages and benefit costs, rules for promotions, or even rules for exiting an unprofitable line of business could fall to federal arbitrators under EFCA.
Arlen Specter’s party switch may have been good for Democrats as a whole (though the turncoat Pennsylvania politician seems to be getting the raw end of the deal). But not for Colorado’s indecisive junior U.S. Senator Michael Bennet — who has lost any relief that had come from EFCA’s once fading prospects.
Yesterday’s op-ed just may have helped Bennet find the political cover he needs. Perhaps invoking liberal icon George McGovern might put him in better graces with the local angry Lefty base.
On second thought, no, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Bennet will try to dodge this issue as long as he can, especially with the unwanted attention he would draw from local union goons were he actually to make a decision and stand up against the harmful and unnecessary legislation.