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Defending the secret ballot

By Scott Tibbs, March 16, 2009

"We can't win that way anymore." - United Food and Commercial Workers Union president Joe Hansen.

The above quote explaining support for the proposal to allow workplaces to unionize via "card check" instead of secret ballot does a lot to explain why this is a bad idea and should be rejected by Congress and President Obama. Union leadership seeks to change the rules of elections for the purposes of winning elections, and some Democrats want to help them.

The premise of "card check" is simple. Instead of holding an election by secret ballot where employees are free to vote their conscience without pressure, "card check" enables a workplace to become unionized once enough workers have signed a card in support of unionizing the workplace.

The problem with this is obvious. While no one knows how individuals vote by secret ballot, signing a card is a much more public act. Many have expressed concerns about intimidation and harassment, employees may feel obligated to sign a card out of something as simple as peer pressure or not wanting to damage a relationship with a pro-union co-worker. What "card check" does is open a huge can of worms and potential for abuse.

Democrats have a lot of support and get a large amount of campaign contributions from labor unions. In fact, the UFCW has given the vast majority of its political contributions to Democrats. But while this move is pro-union, it is not pro-employee. Even George McGovern, the Democratic Party's 1972 nominee for President and staunch liberal, is openly opposed to "card check" and said "this proposed law cannot be justified."

Referring to "card check" as the "employee free choice act" is a laughably Orwellian deception. The law does not enhance or promote choice at all. Instead, it opens the door to harassment, coercion, intimidation and peer pressure designed to take away choice, damage the democratic process, and put a political agenda above employees. I called Baron Hill's Washington office to ask his position on the issue. It will be interesting to see how quickly Hill responds to my inquiry, if he responds at all.