The Smartest Damned Blog Readers on the Planet (cont’d)

By March 8, 2007Labor Unions

At the risk of overdoing it on the anti-democracy card check bill, we wanted to call you attention to a comment posted to Carter Wood’s entry below about the Fraternal Order of Police’s opposition to the legislation. A reader named Jim wrote an eye-opening comment that sheds some light on the FOP’s experience with card check and hence on the likely reasons for their opposition:

“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’ proceeding. 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.”

We always like to say we have the smartest damned blog readers on the planet — both of ’em — and this is one more example of that.