Card Check: Card Counting the Ballots

By April 4, 2007Labor Unions

The rush of D.C. news about the shabbily named Employee Free Choice Act has subsided with Congress out of town, but there are interesting developments around the country.

Up New Jersey way, dealers at Trump Plaza and Hotel justvoted 324 to 149 to join the United Auto Workers. Funny stuff occurred on the way to the vote, though, and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has filed a unfair labor practices complaint in response. Seems that Rep. Robert Andrews, D-NJ, took part in a union rally that included his public counting of union authorization cards, even going so far as to sign and announce a “Certification of Majority Status” for forming a union. Imagine how the unions would scream if Donald Trump brought in some of his TV apprentices for a similar vote-counting stunt to influence the outcome, perhaps shouting “You’re Fired!” every so often to make his point. And organized labor would have us believe only employers are ever bad actors.

Meanwhile, Congressman Randy Kuhl, R-NY, appeared at a public event in Corning to discover, shall we say, vocal critics of his vote against the Employee Free Choice Act: Union Workers Confront Kuhl. Nothing like a good ambush to promote good will and make a rational argument for your cause.

In Montana, organized labor and left-wing Internet activists have been feeling their oats since their efforts helped elect Sen. Jon Tester last November, and they have been active on several fronts this year — trade and union issues, in particular. Don Sterhan, president and chief executive officer of Mountain Plains Equity Group, countered the push with a recent op-ed in the Billings Gazette. He hits an issue worth highlighting:

The legislation is sure to have a particularly strong impact on small businesses. Remember, large employers aren’t the only ones subject to union organizing campaigns. For example, in 2005, the NLRB monitored 2,649 union elections. Of that total, 70 percent of those elections involved employers with fewer than 50 employees. Twenty percent of those elections involved employers with fewer than 10 employees.

Good point, Don. Small businesses have a legitimate fear of the card-check process being used to coerce their employees into unionization. They rely on flexibility and responsiveness to meet customers demands, attributes that often run contrary to rigid union work rules.

UPDATE (12:30 p.m.): Valuable follow-up concerning small business at The Union-Free Employer blog, noting that “card check” enables a unionizing drive to take place in secret, preventing the employer from providing balancing information.

It is far easier to mislead, trick or simply persuade six of ten employees to sign a card quickly than it is to get three- or four-hundred employees to sign cards without the employer catching wind of the effort. Reaping dues money from ten easily organized twenty person shops is essentially the same result as collecting from a single two-hundred person operation, which may require more effort.

Blogger Seth Borden adds that the provisions concerning binding arbitration and financial penalities also disproportionately hit small businesses.