Vice President Dick Cheney just concluded his remarks to an audience of manufacturers, gathered in Washington as part of the NAM’s “72 Hours to Educate and Celebrate.” In a review of the Administration’s policies, priorities and achievements, he provided a clear defense of preserving the secret ballot in the workplace, stating that President Bush would veto H.R. 800, the so-called Employee Free Choice Act.
Vice President Cheney’s remarks:
The American labor movement has a proud history and has long reflected a basic principle of our democracy: fair elections, as decided by secret ballots. This principle will be put to a test in Congress this year. It’s important for everyone in the debate to remember that secret ballots protect workers from intimidation and ensure the integrity of the process. (applause)
Beyond that, if workers do decide to form a union, they and their employers should be able to negotiate without having terms forced on them. Our Administration rejects any attempt to short-circuit the rights of workers. We will defend their right to vote yes or no by secret ballot and their right to fair bargaining. H.R. 800 violates these principles, and if it is sent to the President, he will veto the bill. (applause)
In the Q&A session that followed, NAM President John Engler thanked the Administration for its strong and principled statement.
UPDATE (noon): The NAM has issued a news release applauding the Vice President’s statement.
The NAM’s [Jason] Straczewski thanked the Vice President for the clear statement of principle. “It can hardly be considered ‘free choice’ when a labor union is dictating the organizing campaign and collecting only the signatures they need,” Straczewski said. “Do the choices of those workers who are not asked to sign a card not matter? That is the precise reason for the secret ballot.”
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