Just a Bad Dream? Perils of Binding Arbitration
I awoke this morning with a buzzing in my ears and a panicked conviction that binding arbitration for teacher contracts would be a very bad thing. A very bad thing, indeed. Perhaps those who oppose the concept of a never-ending contract should clear their ears, too, so as to hear the buzz.
From “Vermonters for Better Education”.
Here’s how collective bargaining with binding arbitration works. Management and union representatives come together on opposite sides of the table and predictably fail to reach mutual agreement on the really important issues of hours, wages, and working conditions. They predictably fail because union negotiators frequently make exhorbitant demands designed to wreck negotiations and force the parties into binding arbitration where the union is virtually guaranteed to win and management to fail.
Here’s how that works. A typical arbitration panel is composed of three professionally trained arbitrators, one chosen by management, one chosen by the union, and one chosen by the first two. They will hear the arguments, consider the issues, and fashion a remedy, a contract. That contract almost never favors management. It almost always favors the union and for a very simple reason. Arbitrators need to work. When they work they always face the same unions on one side of the table, but different governing bodies on the other. Unions keep book on the performance of arbitrators, and they will shun or boycott arbitrators who don’t favor union positions. Put bluntly, arbitrators who don’t please unions don’t work. Arbitrators don’t have to fear governing bodies because they very seldom have to face the same one twice, and governing bodies don’t keep book on them. Hence, governing bodies enter binding arbitration at a terrific disadvantage and virtually never win.