Card Check: Labor’s Priority, but Not the Only Demand

By August 27, 2008General

The Wall Street Journal today examined the rise of organized labor’s political clout, growing even as union membership in the private sector wanes. The atrocious Employee Free Choice Act is the first among labor’s political demands of elected officials (Democrats), but the agenda goes much further. From “Big Labor’s Comeback“:

[Rewriting] federal law to promote union organizing is now near the top of the Democratic agenda. The main vehicle is “card check” legislation, which would eliminate the requirement for secret ballots in union elections. Unable to organize workers when employees can vote in privacy, unions want to expose those votes to peer pressure, and inevitably to public intimidation. This would arguably be the biggest change to federal labor law since the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. The Democratic House passed card check last year, and Mr. Obama has pledged his support. With a few more Senators, it might pass.

Card check is merely the start. Next on the agenda is a campaign to repeal “right to work” laws in the 22 U.S. states that have them. Right to work laws allow employees to decide for themselves whether to join or financially support a union. Former Michigan Congressman David Bonior told a union event in Denver on Monday that limiting right to work laws is essential both to lifting union membership and promoting more Democratic political victories.

In CNBC’s ranking of Top States for Business, states one through nine are right-to-work.

In other union campaign news, the reliably, reactively, left-liberal editorial page of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune editorializes against the Employee Free Choice Act. From “Proposed labor bill has fatal voting flaw

EFCA has the potential to do more harm than good. Its provision allowing unions to bypass a secret ballot with something called a card check is a serious problem. Under the proposed law, unions could bypass a secret ballot if 50 percent of eligible employees signed an authorization form to form a union. It doesn’t make sense: Would you pass a school levy or elect a mayor this way? The proposed card-check system also would invite peer-pressure from union sympathizers and, by making a supporter’s name public, it has the potential to heighten the risk of employer retaliation.

The bill’s stiffer penalties for employers who retaliate illegally are welcome. But backers need to rethink the proposed card check. Even if you agree there’s an imbalance of power, doing away with the secret ballot isn’t the solution. Unions exert a great deal of influence over members. They have the ability to tax through dues. They negotiate workplace rules that govern a big chunk of members’ lives. The organizing process should be as democratic as possible. That means honoring the secret ballot, not doing away with it.

Boy, if even the Star-Tribune is opposed, you know that the unions are overplaying their hand. AND…the educational campaigns in Minnesota may well be working.

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