George McGovern: Dems Should Reject Card Check

By August 8, 2008Labor Unions

In today’s Wall Street Journal, an op-ed criticizing the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) by former South Dakota Senator George McGovern, a Democrat, “My Party Should Respect Secret Union Ballots“:

To my friends supporting EFCA I say this: We cannot be a party that strips working Americans of the right to a secret-ballot election. We are the party that has always defended the rights of the working class. To fail to ensure the right to vote free of intimidation and coercion from all sides would be a betrayal of what we have always championed.

Some of the most respected Democratic members of Congress — including Reps. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, George Miller and Pete Stark of California, and Barney Frank of Massachusetts — have advised that workers in developing countries such as Mexico insist on the secret ballot when voting as to whether or not their workplaces should have a union. We should have no less for employees in our country.

I worry that there has been too little discussion about EFCA’s true ramifications, and I think much of the congressional support is based on a desire to give our friends among union leaders what they want. But part of being a good steward of democracy means telling our friends “no” when they press for a course that in the long run may weaken labor and disrupt a tried and trusted method for conducting honest elections.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Unions served a grand purpose until the mid-1950’s. Union leaders became for thug than helpers. The exhorbitant pension funds and ill-advised benefit programs plus out of this world salaries will only succeed in sending more jobs overseas. Unions are worthless.

  • Jeff says:

    It’s unfortunate that even a friend of workers like George McGovern has been caught up in the misinformation spread about EFCA. Although it makes a good sound bite, comparing union elections to a democratic political election is like comparing apples to oranges.

    A union election pits an outside union with very little access to employees against employers which vigorously fight to keep unions out. Employers often require employees to sit through numerous mandatory meetings in which the union is criticized, and all to often, employees labeled as a union supporter are fired. The sad truth is that the National Labor Relations Board can do little to stop employers who intimidate workers. At most, employers that break the law only have to put up a sign and pay back wages—a small price to pay in exchange for scaring employees into voting against the union.

    Until there are real consequences for employers’ intimidation of employees, the secret ballot union election is flawed. EFCA makes the playing field less tilted towards employers by giving employees more control of their choice of a representative. For over 70 years, a union could become the representative based on a “card check” in which a majority of employees say they want the union . . . but only if the employer agrees. Under EFCA, if a majority of employees say they want union representation—and the NLRB certifies that the cards are valid and weren’t coerced—then the employer must respect the employees’ choice.

    The fear union intimidation is also overplayed. The number of elections involving unions coercion is tiny, especially compared to employers’ use of intimidation. And ask yourself this: who would you rather say no to, some union representative that you may never see again or your employer, who with one stroke of the pen can take away your salary, health insurance, and pension contributions?

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