Here’s another insightful labor law submission from Chip Zuver:
Texas Congressman Gene Green has introduced a bill in the House (H.R. 169) to require private sector employers to arbitrate if the parties don’t conclude collective bargaining within 60 days of a new union being certified. If the employer and the union can’t reach agreement on the mediator, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) would select one. If the parties can’t reach agreement within 30 days of selecting the mediator, either party can transfer the matter to the FMCS for binding arbitration.
Practically speaking, newly certified unions could guarantee a collective bargaining agreement and employers will no longer be able to implement their own terms if negotiations on a first-time contract reach impasse. Since very few contracts (especially first contracts) are negotiated within 60 days, any terms that haven’t been agreed to will be decided by an arbitrator who may have no experience in a particular industry or any knowledge of a particular employer. Unions will have no incentive to make reasonable contract demands, since the further apart they are, the more likely an arbitrator will be called in to set the terms. Once the terms of a first contract are set, it’s much harder for the employer to change them without bargaining away other important terms.
California agricultural employers are already dealing with similar requirements and can validate that this is a bad bill for employers. Employers would be well advised to let their representatives know they are against this bill.
Recognizing the seriousness of this situation, Chip was able to restrain himself from noting that Congressman Gene Green and the Captain Kangaroo character played by deceased actor Hugh Brannum (Mr. Green Jeans) are not related.