The Secret Ballot Is a Foundation of Our Democracy
I agree with George McGovern that the proposed “card-check” legislation is an open invitation to abuse and ought to be opposed by congressional Democrats (“My Party Should Respect Secret Union Ballots,” op-ed, Aug. 8). I would suggest that he think through our whole approach to labor relations law. Current law is an authoritarian assault on the liberty of workers who do not want union representation at all.
The National Labor Relations Act makes a certified union the exclusive representative of all the workers. Those who think that the union costs too much, fails to represent their workplace interests, or engages in political activities they don’t support must nevertheless accept its dominion over them. The Right to Work laws of 23 states permit disaffected workers to stop paying dues without being fired, but that is only a second-best remedy.
There is no reason why labor unions must be given monopoly status. Both Democrats and Republicans ought to support reform of the law so that individuals are free to join or quit unions, just as they are free to join or quit churches, clubs, or any other organization.
If unions are beneficial, they will survive without coercing workers who prefer independence.
George C. Leef
The Democratic Party should heed Mr. McGovern’s advice and stand up for the very principle embodied in their name by renouncing their support of a law which would effectively eliminate secret ballots for union organizing.
Labor unions say the bill is necessary to combat employer stall tactics that open employees to intimidation and coercion. But, in fact, the NLRB reports that in 2005 the average union election occurred within 39 days of receiving an employees’ petition. Similarly, NLRB data reveal that less than 3% of organizational campaigns result in an employee being illegally fired. While these employers should certainly be punished, and they are, it is hardly a cause for shelving 60 years of labor law that has supported secret ballot voting.
J. Justin Wilson
Employee Freedom Action Committee
Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, also submits a letter, arguing that the “bill would not eliminate the National Labor Relations Board election process.” Statutorily, no. Practically, yes. Employers would lose their ability to request an election; only the unions could call for one. And given their ability to twist the arms of workers more effectively through the card-check process, the unions will never, repeat, NEVER, request an election.
For more on the card check issue, here’s the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace.
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