Meyerson: Can the Democrats Outlaw Forced Arbitration?

Labor News

Reprinted from The American Prospect by on February 11, 2021.

“Earlier [this month], the House Judiciary Committee began its consideration of one bill that is extremely necessary and should also be extremely popular,” writes Harold Meyerson in The American Prospect. “The bill would ban corporations from imposing forced arbitration on their customers and workers.

“Today, when you sign up with your phone carrier or cable company or delivery service or damn near whatever, the fine print of the contract reads that if you have a grievance against that company, you must waive your right to go to court and must settle instead for an arbitration process—a process in which the company invariably holds the upper hand. If you don’t want to do that, you’ll have to find another company that provides comparable services, and that doesn’t impose arbitration on its customers. Good luck with that.

“Same goes for employees: If you want a job at company X, you must accept its arbitration process and forgo your right to go to court.

“Not every corporation imposes such agreements, of course, but most of the big ones do. For employers, such agreements amount to a double whammy against their workers. By intimidating its workers, the typical corporation generally blocks its employees’ efforts to unionize, and forced arbitration blocks their recourse to the justice system. This tends to lower workers’ voice in any of the actions that companies take that affect workers to something a good deal fainter than a whisper. …

TAP 2/11

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Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at