A sad day in Congress today, for today is the day that Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, is expected to formally introduce the “Card check” bill –a most innocuous name for a most pernicious bill. This bill will upset not only some 70+ years of settled labor law in this country but with it, over 200 years of democracy.
Under current rules, a union seeking to represent a group of workers must get “authorization” cards signed by at least 30% of those workers saying they want an election. This is a process known to all practitioners as rife with what polite people would call, “intimidation.” It’s a face-to-face process — often in the employee’s home — where the union, uh, asks the employee to sign the card. Once they get their 30%, the union petitions the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a federal agency, which promptly investigates and, if appropriate, orders a secret ballot election among that group. Any allegations of improprieties are also adjudicated by this 1800-employee, quarter of a billion dollar agency. So what’s the beef?
Well, over the years, unions have been losing more and more elections, or, worse still for them, not even getting to an election because they fail to get 30% of employees to sign authorization cards. What’s a union to do? Lower the bar, that’s what. Enter the card check bill. Think of it as a thumb on the scales of democracy. This bill would say that if a union is able — by whatever means necessary — to garner cards from 50%+1 of the employees in that group, the union would automatically gain recognition of the workers, no election.
Yup, you read that right: “No election.”
This bill is a measure of the gap between Washington and the real America. Why? Because while people outside Washington read this and scratch their heads, this bill will likely enter this world with well over a hundred co-sponsors, virtually all beneficiaries of union PAC largesse. It is serious and is a serious threat to this Nation’s fundamental democratic principles. Imagine any other context where people would actually be entertaining the notion of tossing out secret ballot elections. But here in Washington, with enough money, anything can happen.
We’ll be writing more on this topic in this space this week, poking even more holes in the Swiss-cheese arguments that labor is making to support this bill. The weakness of the unions’ arguments is eclipsed by the strength of their checkbooks. At the end of the day, it’s just more dues money down the rathole, papering over and propping up a movement that has long since lost its way.
For the US, the beacon of democracy around the world, the introduction of the anti-democracy card check bill makes this a sad day indeed.
Here’s a link to the letter NAM President John Engler sent up to the Hill yesterday.
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