Unions battle employers that use arbitration to curb worker rights

Source: Dominique Paul Noth, People’s World, August 25, 2016

….Employment agreements requiring employees to submit workplace claims to an arbitrator rather than utilizing the courts have become increasingly commonplace. It is a favored tactic in avoiding or lowering the cost of litigation and an attractive way to prevent workers from realizing what they’re giving up. This tactic also abates these companies’ biggest fear, a class or collective action that gives workers a bigger say in how they are treated.

The August 22 decision is not only a big blow against employers, it has also exposed to the air the hidden seven-eighths of their iceberg attack on worker rights.

Most everyone is familiar with the top eighth of the iceberg. This is the ferocious direct and public assault on union coffers and members through right to work (for less) laws in 25 states and legislation like Wisconsin Act 10 that takes bargaining rights away from state workers except for fire and police unions that have supported Gov. Scott Walker. The tone of the battle has become familiar.

But while the public and most unions were focused on the surface, worker rights have been chipped away through methods like arbitration agreements, supposed human resource companies, designations as individual contractors and other sophisticated litigious tools that unions tend not to fight because the victims are not usually union workers.

Not anymore. Today you will find that union leaders and representatives are very active in training these workers, who may never even become union members, on worker rights and how to retain/recover them. ….