Card Check: A Shift of Rhetoric, A Shaft of Illogic

By March 16, 2007Labor Unions

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has reworked a favorite campaign line when commenting on “card check,” the labor-backed legislation that would allow unions organizing a workplace to forego secret-ballot elections. Instead, unions could simply collect signature cards from employees, a public process that invites intimidation. Edwards:

“If a Republican can join the Republican party by signing their name to a card, then any worker in America should be able to join a union by signing their name [to] a card.”

John Edwards

Service workers rally

Miami, FL — April 25, 2006
“If a Republican can join the Republican Party by signing their name to a card, any worker in America ought to be able to join a union by doing exactly the same thing.”

John Edwards

Democratic candidates forum

Carson City, NV, February 21, 2007
“If a Republican can join the Republican Party by signing their name to a card, any worker in America ought to be able to join a union by doing exactly the same thing.”

John Edwards

Campaign statement

March 1, 2007

And now ….

“If someone can join the Republican or Democratic Party by signing a card, then someone ought to be able to join a union by signing a card.”

John Edwards

Speech to International Association of Fire Fighters

Washington, D.C., March 14, 2007

A new spirit of bipartisanship seizes the Edwards campaign!

Edwards’ analogy remains preposterous, however. Joining a political party is a purely a matter of self-identification, of voluntary allegiance. Being coerced into supporting the unionization of your workplace — the hallmark of a card-check campaign — carries with it major consequences. Employer-employee relationships are made adversarial, union dues must be paid, and workplace rules become rigid.

And the last time we looked, joining a political party did not require surrendering the right to a secret ballot.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • SwampWoman says:

    I worked at some unionized jobs in my youth and still have my old Teamsters card somewhere. The companies that I worked for are no longer in business; largely, I believe, due to the union rules stifling innovation and productivity.

    In the meantime, where is this mythological town with the apathetic work force with no health care insurance that has only one source of employment and no means to move? It must be a vastly underserved market since as there is only one employer, there must not be any schools, restaurants, grocery stores, lawn mowing services, gas stations, dry cleaners, liquor stores, car lots, builders or indeed, any service industries at all. Sounds like a huge opportunity to me.

  • Seth Borden says:

    Once again, a mainstream politico ignores the difference between “union membership” and “exclusive union representation,” hoping that his audience never stops to realize the distinction exists.

    The Employee Free Choice Act has nothing at all to do with “joining a union.” Joining a union IS currently as simple as signing up and paying dues.

    The EFCA is about making it easier for that union to force all your co-workers to submit to exclusive representation as well.

    I don’t know what’s scarier…. the notion that John Edwards might purposely be misleading voters about it…. or that he might not actually understand the issue himself.

  • ST says:

    Coerced in joining a union? What about being coerced into working for subpar wages and poor health benefits, if any at all. Now, I know what your pathetic conservative mind is thinking. “Well, you don’t have to work there.” If that’s the only place in your town, and you can’t afford to move, nine times out of ten you are going to work there.

    It’s absolutely ridiculous to think that unions encouraging workers to unionize is 1) something that most employees won’t want to do anyway and 2) more about intimidation that anything the boss of that company can do.

    Yes, it should be “easier” for workers to unionize, which is basically what Edwards was saying. Now, of course the right-wing hates unions, just like they hate theory, because they really hate democracy, just like they hated it when liberals like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were talking about it centuries ago.