Card Check: Robert Reich Comments

By December 27, 2008Labor Unions

From Mickey Kaus, Kausfiles:

Fifteen years ago, at the start of the last Democratic president’s administration. incoming Labor Secretary Robert Reich famously said “The jury is still out on whether the traditional union is necessary for the new workplace.” Tactfully put. This fall, if not earlier, the jury came back.

Famously put? Well, it was new to us. As was this comment from the same New York Times article, August 8, 1993, “Union Leaders Fight for a Place in the President’s Workplace of the Future“:

“Unions are O.K. where they are,” said Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown. “And where they are not, it is not clear yet what sort of organization should represent workers.”

The Employee Free Choice Act would make it abundantly clear what sort of organization would represent workers: traditional labor unions, which unwilling employees would be forced into via elimination of secret ballot elections. Secretary Brown died in the Balkan plane crash, of course, so we can’t ask his views of the bill. Robert Reich is still alive, though, and he seems to realize the weakness of the arguments for card check.

Louis Uchitelle of the New York Times wrote the original piece. A good foundation for another report, eh?


  • Kaus cites the Reich quote in a longer, worthwhile post about labor’s concessions in the domestic auto industry. Such as they are.
  • Force employees into unions? Absolutely. From the Los Angeles Times, “Labor, business gird for battle over unions bill“:
  • Trauma nurse Sherwood Cox, who worked to defeat two California Nurses Assn. drives at Western Medical Center Santa Ana, said that under the proposed law, he would be unable to keep the union out.

    “When it’s actually gone to vote, we’ve gone into the ballot booth and we’ve voted no,” Cox said. “Both times, the union was totally shocked that they lost.”

    Under the card-check system, an employer could be surprised to learn that the workplace has gone union overnight.

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