Fraternal Order of Police Opposes Card Check

By February 28, 2007Labor Unions

The largest law-enforcement labor organization in the country has expressed its strong opposition to the card-check legislation the House is scheduled to vote on Thursday. In a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, FOP National President Chuck Canterbury urged Congress to protect the rights of the American worker by rejecting H.R. 800, the Employee Free Choice Act:

This ill-named legislation attacks the very meaning of free choice. Without Federally supervised private ballot elections, our democratic process would be extremely susceptible to corruption, and the very foundation of our Republic could be undermined. This bill would do the same thing to our nation’s workers by robbing them of their privacy, power and voice in deciding who should represent and defend their rights as employees. The scheme proposed by the legislation would replace the current democratic process of secret ballots with a “card check” system that invites coercion and abuse. Under this process, the identity of workers who signed or refused to sign union organizing cards would be made public to the union organizers as well as to the worker’s employer and co-workers, leaving these individuals vulnerable to threats and intimidation from union leaders, management, or both.

Today, the most common method for determining whether or not employees want a union to represent them is a private ballot election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB provides detailed procedures that ensure a fair election, free of fraud, where employees may cast their vote confidentially without pressure or coercion from unions, employers, or fellow employees. Indeed, law enforcement officers are uniquely susceptible to such pressure. The FOP is an organization run by law enforcement officers for law enforcement officers and without the anonymity of the secret ballot, the FOP would probably not exist today. We would be forced into competition with much larger, much richer unions, but ones without any professional law enforcement background.

Canterbury’s letter is available on-line here, and the FOP’s news release is here.

UPDATE (11:05 a.m.): The National Review’s editors weigh in with this editorial, “Big Labor’s Payday.” UPDATE II (2:25 p.m.): The National Association of Retailers issues a news release opposing card check, highlighting the speed and lack of consideration with which the bill is being rushed through the House.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Jim says:

    I’m not surprised that the FOP opposes the card check procedure–its opposition is probably based on its experience with card checks in the Illinois public sector. Illinois has experienced a number of horror stories since its own card check amendments were enacted in 2003, where public employees have signed cards without understanding their full significance. Afterward, employees are dismayed when they learn that they cannot “change their mind” and/or get their card back from the union. Unions simply refuse, knowing that they now have the employee “locked in.” In other cases, employees have complained that they were completely excluded from the card collection process–in other words, union organizers have sometimes “run the numbers,” and based on those numbers, have approached only those workers who they believe will sign a card. Employee opponents are not approached so that they can voice their own opinion–they simply are ignored as if their opinion doesn’t count. The cathartic benefits of a secret ballot election are thereby completely lost.

    Other evils include the process by which union cards are counted. In the Illinois public sector, employers are not even permitted to look at the cards in some redacted format in order to verify whether the state labor board has correctly counted them, resulting in a de facto “star chamber” proceeeding. This contrasts with the secret ballot election procedure, where a public counting is conducted so that the employers and unions alike can be certain that fairness has prevailed.

    Needless to say, some unions like the FOP have decided that the card check process is simply not worth it. Even if a union wins, it has lost a tremendous amount of credibility with employees and employers alike. By contrast an overwhelming secret ballot election victory goes a long way to providing a union with a “mandate” to seek significant changes, which employers cannot easily ignore at the bargaining table. Practically speaking, if an employer believes that its employees have been misled into signing cards, it will be less likely to believe that the rank-and-file employees really want the status quo changed in the form of higher wages, fairer disciplinary procedures, etc., etc.

  • Laura says:

    Much of the spin against the Employee Free Choice Act is highly misleading. Under the legislation, there is a clause allowing employees to opt for an NLRB election instead of majority sign-up. The Employee Free Choice Act merely gives employees the option to organize without intimidation from employers, who wage aggressive anti-union campaigns in the run-up to NLRB elections and frequently force employees to sit in on anti-union presentations before the vote takes place. The Employee Free Choice Act does not take away workers’ right to request a secret ballot election – it simply provides workers seeking to organize for the right to bargain collectively for better wages and healthcare with another option for getting their union certified.