The status quo is insane

In case anyone is wondering if labor law reform is really needed, the case of Blackstone Hotel in Chicago provides an answer. Workers there formed a union in 2008, but have since faced an onslaught of federal law violations by the hotel. And now, after a year and a half of negotiation, they still don’t have a contract.

Last week, an NLRB administrative law judge ruled that the hotel illegally tried to get employees to decertify the union, and laid off workers and changed employee health plans without involving the union. As Crain’s Chicago Business reports:

Alexis Canalos, a researcher for Local 1, estimates Blackstone workers are owed at least $250,000 in back wages and health premiums.

I’m glad the NLRB is holding the hotel accountable. But despite this victory, the workers are still waiting for a contract. Canalos has it best:

The union was recognized a year and a half ago. It’s just insane that it has taken this long.

Unfortunately, this case is not unusual: studies show that one year after a successful election, 52% of newly formed unions have no collective bargaining agreement, and two years out, 37% still had no contract. Why? Because there’s no incentive for anti-union employers to bargain in good faith with their workers’ union. Bad faith bargaining—stalling, giving outrageous proposals—is illegal, but under current labor law there’s really nothing that can be done to punish companies that do it.

That’s why we need labor law reform. First contract arbitration would give workers and employers incentives to reach an agreement on contracts, helping break the deadlock by giving both sides the right to call in fair mediators and use the process of arbitration as a last resort. That way, workers who form a union can have a fair contract in a timely manner—instead of waiting years for justice.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 at 2:12 pm and is filed under Labor Law Reform. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “The status quo is insane”

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