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EFCA Would Hinder Workplace Innovation

Americans know how to pull together during tough times to help out a neighbor in need. Just look to the Wyoming school district of West Michigan. Hearing that some of their co-workers would be laid off due to a lack of funds, several of the school district’s employees offered to take a cut to their own paychecks in order to free up some money.

Unfortunately, as Michael D. Van Beek of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy reports, those good intentions and innovative generosity are being rejected:

“A group of employees in the Wyoming school district in West Michigan tried this very thing recently. Unfortunately for them (and the 57 employees who stand to lose their jobs), it looks like their plan will fall flat. The unions that exclusively represent these employees are working to nix the idea…

“Under the Wyoming teachers' collective bargaining agreement, only specific pre-tax payroll deductions are permitted…Permission is not granted…for deductions to go to the school district which could then be used to save some of the jobs the district needs to cut from its budget.

“This is a great example of how collective bargaining agreements hinder school districts from finding creative ways to reduce their costs. Because these contracts lock in the costs of employee compensation, school districts are left with only a few options to deal with their overspending: lay off employees, cut programs or dip into their fund balances.”

Michael D. Van Beek, “Unions Nix Job-Saving Plan,” Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 12.02.09

It is one thing for employers and employees to forge agreements about what steps can be taken to tighten budgets while keeping workers on the payroll. But imagine if such agreements were passed down from on high – say from the top of Capitol Hill or the winding maze of the federal bureaucracy where government functionaries could impose a binding arbitration agreement without the knowledge or experience of the workers and employers involved.

Well, that’s exactly what supporters of the Employee Free Choice Act have in mind. Under EFCA, the federal government would have the authority to step in to the mix and dictate to employers and their employees the terms of their agreement. At a time when companies need more flexibility to weigh their options in this tough economy, EFCA would only stifle innovative thought.

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