Heritage Foundation Video Is Full Of Falsehoods About The Employee Free Choice Act

May 15, 2009 6:04 pm ET

The Heritage Foundation produced an anti-Employee Free Choice Act video featuring Rian Wathen, reportedly a "former labor union official." In the video, Wathen continues to disseminate previously debunked falsehoods about the Employee Free Choice Act.

Arbitration Is Not "Mandatory" If Both Parties Are Negotiating In Good Faith

 Rian Wathen: "If you put in the binding arbitration, you remove any incentive for the union to be practical." [Heritage Foundation Video, accessed 5/15/09]

Talks Can Go On Without Arbitration "As Long As Both Parties Feel The Other Is Negotiating In Good Faith." According to the Center for American Progress Action Fund: "The arbitration option does not mean that labor or management will be rushed into unfair agreements.  All time limits under the Employee Free Choice Act can be extended by mutual consent of the parties - giving the parties flexibility to use the time frames that fit their specific needs.  Voluntary negotiations can proceed as slowly or quickly as necessary as long as both parties feel that the other is negotiating in good faith.  The legislation would allow either party to seek mediation assistance after 90 days of negotiations.  After 30 days of mediation, either party can request binding arbitration." [Center for American Progress Action Fund, 3/09]

Arbitration Encourages Voluntary Settlements

Rian Wathen: "I think it's going to discourage collective bargaining, no contracts are gonna be settled.  If this passes, they better hire a bunch of arbitrators.  Because if I'm a union, why would I settle or agree to anything?" [Heritage Foundation Video, accessed 5/15/09]

The Possibility Of Arbitration Encourages Voluntary Settlements. According to the Center for American Progress Action Fund: "Mediation and arbitration prevents either party from stalling and bargaining in bad faith.  The threat of arbitration - not the actual use of the procedure - tends to encourage parties to voluntarily settle.  Available research shows that 70 to 90 percent of American public sector contracts covered under arbitration laws are reached without a binding arbitration award." [Center for American Progress Action Fund, 3/09]

  • MIT Study: Even After A Majority Votes For A Union, Many Units Fail To Get A Contract. According to a recent MIT study: "Only 56 percent of units in which a majority of employees voted for a union and were certified for bargaining by the NLRB were successful in reaching a first contract. Only 38 percent of such units reached a contract within one year." [MIT's Institute of Work and Employment Research, March 2008]

Arbitration Does Not Inflate Wages

Rian Wathen: "Put in the binding arbitration, as a union director of collective bargaining, I'm not gonna come in and propose forty cents, I'm gonna come in and propose three dollars because I'm gonna push it out to the ninety days, get to the point where the employers got thirty cents on the table, I've got three dollars, take it to an arbitrator, who knows nothing about the business, who knows nothing about the jobs, who knows nothing about these employees.  So I think it just completely destroys the balance." [Heritage Foundation Video, accessed 5/15/09]

Wage Increases Awarded In Arbitration "Tend To Be Very Similar To Those Won Through Voluntary Negotiations."  According to American Rights at Work: "The passage of an arbitration law has little to no effect on wages or benefits.  For instance, a 2001 study of police officer salaries from 32 states and the District of Columbia found that there was no statistically significant evidence that the presence of an arbitration statute systematically affects wages. Wage increases and contract terms resulting from arbitration tend to be very similar to those won through voluntary negotiations.  Arbitrators are normally bound to base their decisions on factors outlined in the law, such as the comparability of wages with similar jobs in the region, as well as the public employer's ability to pay." [American Rights At Work, 12/08]

The Employee Free Choice Act Doesn't Give Unions Too Much Power, It Gives Workers A Voice

Rian Wathen: "So I think it just completely destroys the balance." [Heritage Foundation Video, accessed 5/15/09]

The Employee Free Choice Act Will Give Workers A Voice.  According to the Center for American Progress: "Unions give workers a voice on the job and improve communication between workers and management. Without unions, day-to-day competitive pressures leave quitting as the only option for workers to address serious problems-an expensive solution for all concerned." [Center for American Progress, 12/19/08]

Anti-Union Corporations Are Afraid Of Losing Power.  On November 19, 2008, Wall Street Journal columnist Thomas Frank wrote: "Card check is about power. Management has it, workers don't, and business doesn't want that to change. Consider the remarks made by Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott at an analyst meeting on Oct. 28, when he was asked about the possible coming of card check: 'We like driving the car and we're not going to give the steering wheel to anybody but us.'" [Wall Street Journal, 11/19/08]