Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Save the Secret Ballot. Stop Card-check.

Card-check is the system that would replace the secret ballot in determining if employees wanted to form a union. Now, workers can vote in secret. Card-check would be a system of open voting. When a sufficient number of workers signed a form saying they wanted a union, management would have to recognize the union.

This proposal which had appeared to be dead for now looks like it will be slipped into Obama's proposed second stimulus bill, which is being promoted as a "Jobs Bill."
According to a report in the Las Vegas Sun, Bill Samuel, the AFL-CIO’s legislative director, said the union "might consider 'other tactics,' meaning the card-check legislation or key parts of it could be placed into a larger jobs bill this year." (link)

Card-check is abhorrent to the very concept of democracy and rule of law. Card-check will encourage mob rule and violence and intimidation. The secret ballot should be considered sacred. Union thugs will bomb homes and beat up hold outs if they know who the hold-outs are. Also, management opposing unionization will know who has voted for unionization and my be tempted to retaliate against those who have supported it. Workers should not have to be exposed to either management or union intimidation. Card-check must not be allowed to pass. We must be vigilant and not let this get slipped in as part of a jobs bill.

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  1. From mediamatters.org

    As The Christian Science Monitor has noted, "The proposed law gives workers a choice of forming a union through majority sign-up ('card check') or an election by secret ballot." Indeed, as The New York Times reported, "Business groups have attacked the legislation because it would take away employers' right to insist on holding a secret-ballot election to determine whether workers favored unionization". Employee Free Choice Act supporters say employers often use the election process to delay, obstruct, and intimidate workers in an effort to resist organizing efforts.

    Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor and a leading proponent of the Employee Free Choice Act, has addressed the "myth" that the bill eliminates the secret ballot:

    MYTH: The Employee Free Choice Act abolishes the National Labor Relations Board's "secret ballot" election process.

    FACT: The Employee Free Choice Act does not abolish the National Labor Relations Board election process. That process would still be available under the Employee Free Choice Act. The legislation simply enables workers to also form a union through majority sign-up if a majority prefers that method to the NLRB election process. Under current law, workers may only use the majority sign-up process if their employer agrees. The Employee Free Choice Act would make that choice -- whether to use the NLRB election process or majority sign-up -- a majority choice of the employees, not the employer.

    It seems intimidation can and does go both ways. I don't know a lot about unions...I am not opposed to them as a concept. Hell, that's democracy and the free market at work for the workers to organize and negotiate as a whole with the employers.

    Perhaps the operation of the union is where you haven't the biggest concern.

    If there was some way to assure Unions weren't operating in this oppressive fashion that you describe above, or were punished in some way (the "bad apples", not the Union itself)as a deterrent, would you support them, as far as the principle goes?

  2. Ahh, the upcoming jobulus bill. I wonder how many goodies we will find in it.

    @Robert, if you are using mediamatters.org as your source, you will not find many people who take you seriously. It's almost as bad as using ACORN as a source. I don't mean that as an insult, just stating a fact.

  3. Forgotten Liberty:

    I am not sure if you are purposefully avoiding the point raised in my comment by attacking the source....I mean if you can find something in error in my response, then please let me know.

    If not, then it would be best not to distract from the discussion.

    I may not agree with mediamatters.org on the sensitive nature of some of their articles, as I think they do overreact to certain statements made by persons in politics, but they always source their rebuttals and include full context and links to their supporting material.

    As for ACORN, I think you can't judge the organization by the foibles of some of their workers. I don't know much about the organization itself or how it operates, but I certainly believe that you can't believe the *highly edited* video and dubbed-over commentary of someone out to embarrass them and somehow prove their "true" nature (my words). That's certain bias which I think you have just admitted has exposed the fragility and credibility of relying on that source....

    So, any actual rebuttal to my original point? I am persuaded by evidence, not by attacks on a source. I don't have any experience with unions and employers of unionized workers, so if there is more to this topic, please let us know.

  4. Robert,

    You are missing the point. Has little to do with the employer and everything to do with personal liberty and freedom.


  5. Robert, Workers may sign a union authorization cards not because they intend to vote for the union in an election but to avoid offending the person who asks them to sign or to avoid retaliation for not signing. In some cases, not signing can get you knee-capped or your house bombed. Workers may sign the card because of fear and pressure and then vote against the Union when in the voting booth. People can only safely vote their conscience in a secret ballot.

    I am not opposed to collective bargaining and the right of employees to organize. However, I am opposed to rules that force people to join unions. Tennessee is a Right to Work state and I support that.

    I have never belonged to a union, but I have never worked in a field or for a company that was unionized. I have worked most of my life for small firms, or as a commissioned salesman or in the non-profit sector. When running for public office I have received the enforcements of the Nashville Firefighters, The local AFL-CIO, and the MNEA which is the local National Education Association affiliate. I am not anti-union; I am pro democracy.

  6. Paul: I don't think *I* am the one missing the point here. If it's the principle of the thing, then doesn't making it the choice of solely the union-considering employees on how they want to tally the union support *more* democratic? If the only way they can have the *option* of card-check now is with the employer permission, how is this more democratic?

    Rod: I admire your well articulated response. I hear that the intimidation goes both ways, i.e., that the secret ballot is an opportunity used by some employers to harass, intimidate, scare, or otherwise influence the voters....Again, I don't have any experience with unions or unionization, so all of the statements (for and against) are hearsay.

    It just seems to me that unions have a place, and just like employers they can become corrupt and abusive. There has to be some middle ground win-win compromise to everyone's legitimate concerns for the system.

    But that takes both sides operating in good faith, and how likely is that?

  7. I don't know the answer to this issue, but I do know that this is the most intelligent and respectful political argument I have heard on any blog in ages. Rod, you not only are a good communicator, you bring out the best in your commenters too. If this quality of discourse could be exhibited in Washington, something might actually be accomplished.