More Deflection — That’s the Nice Term — on Card Check

By August 11, 2008Labor Unions

Once again union leaders have turned to bluster, bullying and falsehoods to make the case for the Employee Free Choice Act, i.e., card check.

In a recent commentary in the Bangor (Me.) Daily News, Edward Gorham, president of the Maine AFL-CIO, steams over recent Coalition for a Defense Workplace ads that use humor to make a point about the undemocratic, intimidation-inviting nature of the Employee Free Choice Act. A sense of humor is apparently not his strong suit.

But humor’s subjective. What’s not is this claim:

These ads falsely state that the Employee Free Choice Act will “pressure” workers into joining unions and take away their right to vote on formation of a union. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This legislation does not outlaw the election process; workers can still have an election if they want one. However, it puts the choice of how employees form their union – by ballot or card – in workers’ hands. Right now, the employer – not the workers – gets to choose how, when and where workers form their union.

At the risk of repeating ourselves: Oh, c’mon. Now obviously the unions can’t concede the point, but to pretend that there would be an election under card check is deceit.

Current law works this way: If a union wanting to organize a business gets signatures of 30 percent of the employees, that union can formally ask to represent the workers. But, the employer can say, no, I want there to be an election conducted via secret ballot and overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. Then it’s up or down, with majority rules –union or no union.

Under the Employee Free Choice Act, that 30-percent process would remain in effect, with the option of an election. But unions could also collect signatures from 50 percent plus 1 of the employees and automatically gain representation. The employer would have no recourse to an election.

And yes, the law allows a union to request an election AFTER organizers have already gathered sufficient signatures to gain representation. We can hear the deliberations down at the Labor Temple: “Well, we already have what we want, including all these forced union dues that go into our pockets, but, oh, sure. Let’s have an election.”

Tell us that how would happen, Mr. Gorham.

As we’ve noted many times before, most labor supporters of card check don’t like to talk about what the legislation actually does, preferring to speak in high-minded terms about improving workers’ standards of living by simply “making it easier” to join a union. And the advocates misrepresent how the bill works. Gorham’s piece falls into this category.

There’s another response, too: Name calling. The AFL-CIO is fond of “sleaze propagandist” as a term of opprobrium; the gentlest attack is “anti-worker.”

If abuse is the typical response to criticism, it seems like individual employees might have good reason to fear a negative reaction if a union organizer presented a signature card and said, “Sign this. You want to join the union, don’t you? DON’T YOU?”

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