Card Check: Intimidation Does Happen, You Know

By January 24, 2008Labor Unions

Lawrence Lindsay, writing in today’s Washington Post:

Last weekend in Nevada, former president Bill Clinton said he witnessed voter intimidation firsthand. According to Clinton, a union representative was telling workers to agree to caucus for Sen. Barack Obama or expect to get a work schedule making it impossible for them to attend at all.

We all know that things like this happen and that our electoral process isn’t perfect, though it is the best available. One benefit of the secret ballot is that it minimizes incidences of such pressure because those doing the intimidating can never be sure if their threats worked. But in a caucus there is no secret ballot, so these union leaders would be able to tell how their members voted if they participated.

I wonder if, having seen such voter intimidation, the Clinton campaign will change its position on doing away with government-supervised secret-ballot elections for union representation. Under the Orwellian-named Employee Free Choice Act, secret-ballot elections to decide whether a plant is unionized would be replaced with a public “card check” system, under which both employers and union organizers would know how each worker voted.

The Obama campaign had its own complaints:

“We currently have reports of over 200 separate incidents of trouble at caucus sites, including doors being closed up to thirty minutes early, registration forms running out so people were turned away, and ID being requested and checked in a non-uniform fashion. This is in addition to the Clinton campaign’s efforts to confuse voters and call into question the at-large caucus sites which clearly had an affect on turnout at these locations. These kinds of Clinton campaign tactics were part of an entire week’s worth of false, divisive, attacks designed to mislead caucus-goers and discredit the caucus itself.”

The unions dominated Las Vegas politics during the Democratic caucuses. So, sure, let’s bring the same sort of “persuasion” to the workplace by eliminating secret ballots with the Employee Free Choice Act.

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