Card Check: Solidarity and Solid Reasoning

By June 26, 2007Labor Unions

As previously noted, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT, took to the Senate floor yesterday to rebut Sen. Byron Dorgan’s invoking of Lech Walesa — what, Gandhi wasn’t available? — in support of the anti-democratic Employee Free Choice Act. Hatch’s comments start on Page S8336 of the Congressional Record:

I have to say I am amazed they are trying to sell this to the American public. I don’t think they can. They can’t sell it to the union members out there, roughly 70 percent of whom are against doing away with secret ballot elections–and for good reason. Once they start down that road, then you can have Government interference and a whole bunch of other interferences that will take away people’s freedoms and rights.

This bill is a disgrace. Even worse is the mandatory arbitration this bill imposes on employers and employees for up to 2 years if they do not agree within 90 days of collective bargaining, which usually always takes longer, and 30 days of mediation. Then the Federal Government can step in and determine the wages, terms, and conditions of employment.

That is a ridiculous approach. That is even more dangerous than the card-check part of this. I can tell you this, as one who helped Lech Walesa, who met with him in Gdansk, who had dinner with him over in Gdansk, and also with Father Jankowski, who was the Catholic priest who held mass on the docks with guns trained upon his back, all I can say is I do not think their belief in free trade unionism consisted of having a card check system. A system that would bind 100 percent of employees to a union when only 50 percent plus 1 decided to unionize through a coerced and nontransparent signing of a card.

A .pdf copy of the pages with Dorgan claims and Hatch’s refutation is available here.

UPDATE (9:30 a.m.): Senator Hatch’s column on card check in today’s National Review Online is here.

This isn’t about workers’ rights. This is about intimidation. Consider the pressure you would be under to sign a card if your coworkers asked. Workers and their families can be harassed at home, at church, at the shopping mall. A former union organizer testified before the House Education and Labor Committee that many workers “signed the card simply to get the organizer to leave their home and not harass them further.” Pressure often escalates to include threatening phone calls, vandalism, stalking, and even violence. In one 2004 case, a worker in High Point, North Carolina, who dared to oppose the United Auto Workers’ card check campaign, needed 24-hour security posted at his home.

The only protection workers have to exercise their freedom in union elections is the private ballot. A choice made under duress is no choice at all — it’s coercion.

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