The Los Angeles Times posted a partial transcript of remarks between the SEIU’s Andy Stern and the Times‘ editors and reporters. While they discussed a multitude of issues (including the SEIU’s involvement on those conference calls between the state and Obama administration), the conversation about EFCA proved to be most interesting.
Stern brazenly claims that “an overwhelming majority … agrees there needs to be binding arbitration.” When asked to clarify, Stern said that he thought a majority of the U.S. Senate thought binding arbitration was necessary.
In addition Stern said the same majority “appreciates [that] the election procedures are not right, they’re not balanced, they’re not fair, and the penalties are not adequate, and the speed is not appropriate.”
And in what seemed almost like an afterthought, Stern said, “[T]here’s a discussion about are there ways to change what is affectionately called card check to make it more like a secret ballot and less like what people are concerned about, being coerced or intimidated by the union side to try to sign it.”
As we have noted before, Stern specifically used the term ‘card check’ in conversation, which most labor officials do not use.
But what’s most interesting is Stern’s claim that an overwhelming majority supports binding arbitration. Is this a shift in what labor is hoping to achieve with EFCA? Michael Barone warned that labor may fall back on binding arbitration if they couldn’t win on effectively eliminating the secret ballot. It appears that could be the direction labor is heading.
Former Democratic presidential candidate and South Dakotan senator George McGovern has written on the consequences of binding arbitration. Under EFCA’s binding arbitration provision, a federal bureaucrat can dictate the terms of a contract between employer and union if they cannot agree upon first contract. This means that workers would not have the ability to ratify their contract.
We already said that EFCA opponents cannot afford to become complacent. Stern’s remarks about binding arbitration could be the opening of a new front. It’s something worth paying attention to as the Senate continues to float various compromise proposals.