The Recession
The Recession

This Ain't Dickens, Say No to Employee Free Choice Act

| by Bret Jacobson
This year Americans have been faced with the question “do we need the Employee Free Choice Act?” The answer has increasingly come back as “no.” But here’s another way to ask whether our nation really needs to pass the blatantly misnamed legislation: “Do modern employees toil in a dystopian nightmare so oppressive that the only way to liberate them is to take away even more of their rights (and even some of their jobs)?

After all, we don’t normally perform a complete overhaul of a legal area that has stood for six decades. So it stands to reason that it would take a bleak work existence, a Dickensian world of hunger, privation, and abuse of orphans named Oliver Twist -- to generate a mass outpouring of cries for a bill that would:

1) effectively eliminate secret ballot elections for U.S. workers deciding whether or not to join a union; and

2) impose government arbitrators to set legally binding contracts between unions and employers.

It’s certainly true that a handful of people -- far from the majority -- see the world as one of bitter fights between labor and capital. That’s not too difficult to imagine. (Heck, some people are still even reliving the Civil War.) What’s hard to digest is some of the propaganda these groups produce. Just this week, they put out a recycled “study” claiming that American employers are terrible people. The public should be aware, however, that this case was made by sampling biased union organizers rather than average Americans.

A lot of us have terrible bosses who have no business sense -- some have no business being bosses at all (SEIU, we’re looking at you!). Yet, that’s not the norm in America, a free country that allows employees to leave a bad situation for a job where they can be treated well and compensated fairly.

It’s also certainly true that not everyone is perfectly happy with his or her job. But then again, many people wouldn’t be content unless work was just rainbows and butterflies. Sticking to the sphere of reality, though, there’s ample evidence to suggest that working Americans enjoy a high level of satisfaction in their jobs and aren’t particularly interested in joining a union.

Finally, most of us would rather have a good (though imperfect) job, rather than none at all. EFCA’s negative effects on the economy could lead to job losses totalling hundreds of thousands, if not millions. That brings us back to Capitol Hill.Aside from the political investment of hundreds of millions of dollars by union bosses who have openly declared that EFCA will be their payback, Americans have little appetite for EFCA. Employees certainly don’t like the idea of losing their right to vote on the job, and editorial boards across the nation have concurred. Employers certainly don’t like the notion of having a big-government arbitrator tie their hands so they lose flexibility – akin to one industry that’s driving off a cliff due in large part to miles of terrible union contracts.

Don’t believe me. Ask yourself: Is there any place in American that more resembles a dystopian, Dickensian world than Detroit? And is there any other place where more unions would be less helpful?

Bret Jacobson
is founder and president of Maverick Strategies LLC, a research and communications firm serving business and free-market think tanks.