07 May 2009

George McGovern: EFCA is not free choice

In today’s Opinion Journal, former Presidential nominee George S. McGovern lays the case against the EFCA and I must admit, I have to agree with him. Those old enough to remember that McGovern ran as a liberal and was absolutely demolished by Nixon in 1972. Friends, Mr. McGovern is right.


My perspective on the so-called Employee Free Choice Act is informed by life experience. After leaving the Senate in 1981, I spent some time running a hotel. It was an eye-opening introduction to something most business operators are all-too familiar with -- the difficulty of controlling costs and setting prices in a weak economy. Despite my trust in government, I would have been alarmed by an outsider taking control of basic management decisions that determine success or failure in a business where I had invested my life savings.

When it comes to labor disputes, both parties should be guaranteed a real chance for compromise under the joint economic threat of contract breakdowns. George Meany, president of the AFL-CIO for nearly 30 years before retiring in 1979, had it right in condemning mandatory arbitration as "an abrogation of freedom."


Even though he has this right, notice his one phrase “Despite my trust in government”  There’s the rub for most conservatives. We don’t trust government to do things that we can do for ourselves. Should I decide to join a union, it must be my choice and those of my co-workers, not an open-ended process that leaves too much room for coercion and for the removal of individual liberty and autonomy. The binding arbitration clause in the bill is almost as scary as the destruction of the secret ballot.

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