Waiting Game

Current labor law allows employers to indefinitely stall when workers want to unionize; including arbitration in the Employee Free Choice is crucial to stopping the cycle of inaction, write David Madland and Karla Walter.

Read the full column (CAP Action)

Two years ago, thousands of workers at four Atlantic City casinos voted to join together and unionize in an effort to improve their wages, benefits, and working conditions. Yet the workers haven’t been able to secure any improvements because their employers have used delay tactics to avoid signing a first contract.

The Employee Free Choice Act—a bill currently being debated in Congress to reform several aspects of labor law—can prevent this situation from continuing to be the norm, but to do so it must include an arbitration option that will push labor and management to negotiate in good faith and stop antiunion corporations from gaming the system. An arbitration provision would ensure that the results of democratic elections are respected. In elections for public office, voters expect the candidate with the majority of votes to take office and govern. Yet current labor law allows antiunion corporations to avoid respecting the outcomes of union elections.

More than 80 percent of dealers, keno, and simulcast employees at Caesars Atlantic City casino voted in March 2007 to form a union. The following months saw dealers at Atlantic City’s Trump Plaza, Bally’s, and Tropicana and slot technicians at Caesars Atlantic City and Tropicana vote to unionize in landslide elections.

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David Madland

Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project

Karla Walter

Senior Fellow, Inclusive Economy