Stephen E. Sandherr has an op-ed today highlighting how EFCA will actually hurt union workers, particularly construction workers. Much of the debate has centered on the effective elimination of the secret ballot, but many have not considered EFCA’s consequences on workers.
Sandherr points out that EFCA’s binding arbitration provision will make it more difficult to maintain collective bargaining through area agreements, which set wages, hours, and work rules for union workers for a number of firms in a region. The agreements allow union members to work for different employers throughout their career because their benefits are portable. Under binding arbitration terms, however, newly unionized employees will likely have wages and benefits that are different. If these are less than the area agreement, the newly unionized employees will find their ability to transition from one employer to another undermined. This is problematic for construction workers who will work on different projects over a given period of time in an area.
Sandherr also points out that EFCA will only lead to an increase in jurisdictional disputes that delay employment opportunities for workers. He argues that unions successsful in organizing workers will claim work on a “multi-craft basis,” which will lead to multiple unions claiming work at a single job site. Sandherr says “these kinds of disputes traditionally lead to work stoppages that idle union workers and threaten the long term viability of any manner of projects.” Furthermore, these delays, disputes, and additional cost thanks to EFCA will only increase the likelihood of private owners not hiring union contractors. This only hurts the worker at the end of the day.