Card Check: We’re In a Union? How Did That Happen?

By May 24, 2007Labor Unions

To those who claim the card-check process is just as fair and democratic as a secret ballot election, we direct you to recent events in southern California, where nurses at the recently unionized Kaiser Permanente are aghast at what happened. From the Orange County Register:

Gomez and other nurse midwives had two main complaints with the process: First, “that we were placed in a bargaining unit that is not commensurate with our job description,” Gomez said in a telephone interview.

Second, that some never got a card from the union with which to register their choice. “Many of us were not even aware the vote was actually taking place,” wrote Cheryl Pearce, a nurse midwife, in an e-mail.

Pearce has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, and James Small, acting regional director of the NLRB in Los Angeles, says Pearce’s allegation will be carefully investigated.

Complaints like Pearce’s are common after a union gains recognition through a card check, Small said. “Many times individuals call us and … say we never had a chance to vote on this or they will say we never understood that signing this card would result in the union getting in.”

Small said sometimes such complaints reflect “buyer’s remorse,” or that employees “didn’t read carefully” what they signed.

However, workers often feel as if they were disenfranchised by the card-check process. Small said this can happen when a company and a union decide which workers will constitute a proposed bargaining unit, without necessarily taking the desires of employees into account, Small said.

All of these problems and complaints could be prevented through a secret-ballot election, a democratic safety valve, if you will, that allows employees to express their real sentiments without fear of coercion or retaliation.

But the purposely misnamed Employee Free Choice Act does away with secret-ballot elections. Good for dues-hungry unions, not so good for employees who seek to control their own fates.

(Hat tip to Richard Hankins, who has much more on this case at his EFCAUpdates blog.)