In the Q&A that followed NAM President John Engler’s remarks Monday at the Detroit Economic Club, an exchange:
Question: Please comment on the differences between Senator Obama and Senator McCain’s approach to manufacturing.
Engler: How much time do we have left? (laughter)
I think there are some obvious differences. Let me start with what I think is the biggest threat that manufacturing in the country faces and that’s the elimination of the secret ballot to form unions. People say, well what’s that all about? Well, it is organized labor’s top goal in the election to have passed a bill that passed the House last time and failed in the Senate, but under a veto threat from the Bush Administration. McCain is supportive of continuing that veto threat. Senator Obama has said that as president he’d sign this legislation.
Basically what you do is: Today if you want to form a union in a workplace you’ve got petition for an election, and then the election is held (via) a secret ballot supervised by the federal government. There’s lots of conversation back and forth about what’s fair about that or what’s not fair, how people campaign or not, but bottom line is today the workers decide in a supervised election that’s secret.
There are cases where, you know, many, many people have signed cards, but many fewer than have actually voted when they had a chance to privately cast a ballot. Labor’s position is, let’s wipe out that ballot. That’s kind of unnecessary. Just let us sign the cards. That won’t work. It opens the workplace up to coercion. And worse, if I’m getting notified you now have a union to negotiate with, you can’t work out a contract in 120 days, don’t worry, there’s an independent arbitrator who will sort this out and give you the contract for the first two years. So the balance in the workplace in terms of work rules and negotiating conditions of employment goes right out the window. It goes to an unelected and unaccountable individual.
I think that’s devastating. I always put that at the top of my list because that would fundamentally change the way we do business in this country.
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