Eye on the Prize

Taking the secret ballot away from workers so they can be identified, pressured and coerced into forming a union is a primary goal of the union bosses, but don’t forget — it isn’t the only goal.

The Card Check Bill contains a provision that empowers the federal government to set wages and benefits for employees in newly unionized companies. This outrageous provision puts the federal government at the bargaining table for potentially every business in America. The DC Examiner sees the provision for what it is — potentially more dangerous than the secret ballot provisions of the legislation:

But there’s something else in Card Check that its backers hope nobody notices, unless it’s needed as the basis of a legislative compromise later this year. It’s an obscure but potentially more dangerous provision that empowers federal arbitrators to set wages and benefits for employees in newly unionized companies. The bill imposes a binding arbitration process if union leaders cannot reach agreement with company officials within 90 days. At one party’s request, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) would then step in. If the parties still disagree within another 30 days, an FMCS-appointed arbitrator would impose wage and benefit levels for the next two years, regardless of the economic consequences. Somewhere Richard Nixon, the last president to impose government wage and price controls on private companies, is laughing manically.

Former Bush Labor Department officials Vincent Vernuccio and Loren Smith, Jr. correctly point out that Card Check thus gives union negotiators little incentive to bargain in good faith, knowing that their every outrageous demand would be a starting point for the binding arbitration most likely conducted by government bureaucrats. Said arbitrators would have sole discretionary power to force employers to make concessions far beyond what they would otherwise accept. Small businesses with limited resources would be particularly vulnerable to this new form of government meddling. The bill even bars workers from overriding their union leaders and terminating the binding arbitration process even if doing so would save the company and everybody’s jobs. This is progress?

Wage and benefit packages with no relation to market realities have brought Chrysler and General Motors to the brink of bankruptcy. Card Check would force a similarly ludicrous system on many more still-healthy American businesses. If President Barack Obama – who vigorously supports Card Check – and Congress truly want to get America’s economy moving again, defeating Card Check and its compulsory arbitration provision is a must.