Card Check: But What About the Secret Ballots?

By November 23, 2008Labor Unions

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Minority Leader John Boehner appeared together today on Fox News Sunday, and Chris Wallace asked about the Employee Free Choice Act. From the transcript:

WALLACE: Congressman Hoyer, the Democratic Caucus chose its leaders this past week by secret ballot, and yet you want to pass the union card check which would deprive workers of the ability to cast a secret ballot when they’re asked whether or not to unionize their workplace.

Why is a secret ballot OK and desirable for Congress, but you want to take it away from workers?

HOYER: Chris, very frankly, what we want is to make sure that workers can get the opportunity to be represented and to bargain collectively for pay and benefits and working conditions. We think that’s a basic American right protected by law.

The problem has been that getting an election has been extraordinarily difficult for American workers. Organizing and getting that ability to be represented has been extraordinarily difficult. That’s why the card check bill came about.

When you have over 50 percent sign up and say, “We want to be represented,” and then they are prohibited from getting an election by all sorts of maneuvers, we don’t think that’s fair. We don’t think that’s the intent of the law. And that’s why the card check bill has been proposed.

We’re going to look at that. We’re going to see if there are modifications to it that can be effective. We’ll bring compromise. But we think, absolutely, American workers have the right to organize and be recognized.

Did you see an answer to Wallace’s question anywhere in there? As best you can infer this argument: The elections are unfair and therefore we’re doing away with those elections.

From the BNA review of union elections as collected by the National Labor Relations Board:

The union win rate decreased slightly to 60.1 percent in 2007, down from 61.4 percent the year before. Unions have won more than half of all representation elections in each of the past 11 years. The NLRB conducted 1,502 elections in 2007, compared with 1,657 in 2006. In 1996, about 3,300 elections were conducted by the agency. The number of elections won by unions also decreased to 902 in 2007 from 1,018 in 2006. The number of eligible voters decreased to 101,991 in 2007 from 112,336 in 2006. In 2007, unions organized 57,908 workers through the NLRB elections, down from 59,759 the previous year.

Not satisfied with winning 60.1 percent? Not high enough? Then eliminate the elections all together!

(Kudos to Wallace for asking the question.)

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