Card Check: The State of Play

By April 10, 2007Labor Unions

The Politico takes a political, process-oriented look at the campaigns of persuasion being waged over the artfully named Employee Free Choice Act. The unions are attempting with all their might to deflect attention from the substance of the bill, the anti-democratic “card check” provisions that vitiate worker confidentiality, as well as the binding arbitration that turns the control over terms of employment to the government. The pro-private-ballot groups, including the NAM, want employees to understand just what’s at stake.

“Our goal is to keep this from being brought up again in ’08 and to keep it from being brought up in ’09 and to kill it dead,” said Todd Harris, a spokesman for CDW. The ads consciously and conspicuously engaged on the turf that most people assume belongs to the unions by seeking to defend workers’ rights, he explained, specifically a private ballot.

According to a CDW poll of union and non-union households conducted in January, 87 percent supported the continued use of secret ballots. Based on the information gleaned from those polls, CDW created ads attacking attempts to remove the secret ballot process. The ads were designed to appeal to the 79 percent of union households polled who said they support secret ballots, though they were not told whether management or unions would take them away.

Pat Cleary, the communications director for the National Association of Manufacturers, spent 20 years as a federal mediator. He said businesses also oppose a little-mentioned provision in the bill related to the arbitration process. If a union does not reach an agreement with an employer within 120 days, a government arbiter then sets the contract; that stays in place for two years. Cleary said this offers unions an “unbelievable” incentive to stonewall, shoot for the moon and receive benefits they would otherwise be unable to obtain.

Smart guy, that Cleary.