Card Check: Creeping in, Bit by Bit

By March 17, 2008Labor Unions

An update from the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, “Union organization by ‘card check’ lands on Governor’s desk“:

SB 867 (Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles) to unionize child care providers was sent to the Governor on March 11th. The bill authorizes family child care providers to form, join and participate in “provider organizations,” for purposes of negotiating with state agencies. Specifically, a union such as the State Employees International (SEIU), would be considered a “provider organization” and they would negotiate with the State on behalf of the child care providers. This bill will hurt California’s competitiveness and will increase labor costs for California childcare providers, thereby reducing the pool of money available for subsidized childcare for working parents.

Furthermore, SB 867 sets a precedent for the use of “card check” as a method of unionization. “Card check” takes away an individual’s right to a private ballot when deciding whether or not to join a union by replacing the private ballot with a system that allows a union to organize if a majority of workers sign a card. Union organizers oversee the process and the workers’ votes are made public to the employer and employees. Workers are better protected from interference and intimidation by casting their vote privately with a secret ballot.

Organized labor has a well-considered strategy, winning passage of card-check for employees governed by state employment law, e.g. public employees, in an attempt to build the appearance of momentum for federal legislation. In Oregon, Governor Kulongoski signed an executive order allowing unionization of adult-foster care providers through card check. The AFL-CIO has hailed card-check victories in Delaware, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

But in all cases, the basic fact remains: Card check eliminates secret-ballots in the workplace, replacing it with a system where union organizers use a public process to collect employee signatures. The process invites abuse and intimidation.

Governor Schwarzenegger has a pretty good record in support of business autonomy. Let’s hope he continues it by vetoing SB 867.

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