Card Check: A Grandiose Claim

By March 14, 2007Labor Unions, Media Relations

We’ve knocked the The New York Times around once already for a particularly vapid editorial on the subject of card check, “The Right to Organize.” NAM President John Engler also responded, and since the Times has decided against printing the letter to the editor (no complaint here on that), we offer the missive for the reader’s consideration.

In “The Right to Organize,” the Times claims that recently passed legislation (H.R. 800), eliminating private ballot elections for employees during union organizing actually benefits employees. In fact, this so-called “Employee Free Choice Act” only destroys essential protections for employees.

The private ballot system is currently overseen by an independent federal agency — the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Through secret-ballot elections, that system gives employees the freedom to follow their conscience in deciding whether to form a collective bargaining unit.

To complain (without citing a single example) that this is a lengthy and unfair process is without merit. A majority of NLRB-conducted elections take place within 34 days, while 90 percent take place within 56 days. And, in 2005, labor unions prevailed in 56 percent of these elections. Bad actors who break the law can be and are punished.

The Times further argues that his legislation will “fix today’s economic ills,” a grandiose claim for the effects of forced unionization. Union membership is plunging in great part because employees recognize that it no longer serves their self-interest, especially in the face of a dynamic, innovation-driven economy. The only people sure to gain from this bill are the labor bosses who will collect the mandatory union dues.

Instead of tackling the real issues facing our economy — increasing health care costs, rising energy prices and a shortage of skilled workers — House members who passed this bill appeared more interested in returning a favor to a special interest group. In the process, they sacrificed basic American principles the Times would normally defend: secret ballots and the freedom of association.

UPDATE (11:15 p.m.) An op-ed opposing card-check legislation, “Even in workplace, ballots need to be a private affair,” by Rep. John Kline, R-MN, ranking member of the Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions subcommittee of the Education and Labor Committee.

UPDATE II (3:30 p.m.): From SHRMOnline.

The best way to build a brighter future is not through more expansive government programs or “ill-conceived” legislation that would bypass private elections on unions, but by empowering individuals, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao told attendees of the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Employment Law & Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 13.

The luncheon crowd erupted into applause when Chao promised that President Bush would veto the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800) if it passed the Senate.

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