Card Check: Yes, It Eliminates Elections

By February 17, 2009Labor Unions

There’s a steady stream of letters to the editor being published around the country, generated or inspired by various labor organizations, all denying the reality the Employee Free Choice Act eliminates secret-ballot elections in the workplace.

  • Erin Thompson in the Billings Gazette: “The Employee Free Choice Act would not replace secret-ballot elections, as they claim. It would provide workers with the option of joining a union by signing a card so that employers cannot simply drag their feet and delay collective bargaining.”
  • Becky Williams in The Canton Repository: “It is flatly untrue that the bill will ‘eliminate employees’ ability to vote in a secret ballot election.” Under current law, companies — not workers — decide whether to use a majority sign-up or an election to determine whether employees wish to form a union. Under the EFCA, workers will decide: If they choose to express their preference in an election, they will be free to do so.”
  • Tom Wellman, Kennebec (ME) Journal, “Big corporations — and the letter’s writer — are spreading misinformation by claiming that the bill would take away secret ballot elections for workers trying to form a union. That is simply not true. The legislation clearly preserves the right for workers to choose to hold an election. The change is that it is their choice and not their company’s. That’s an important difference. Workers should be able to make their own decisions about whether and how to form a union.”
  • Rodney Wickham in the Jacksonville Sun: “Recent television commercials have stated that The Employee Free Choice Act would eliminate secret ballot elections. The truth is the proposed amendment does not invent majority sign up, and does not eliminate secret ballot elections.”

And this is language from the legislation in question, H.R. 800 in the last Congress, the Employee Free Choice Act (our emphasis):


(a) In General- Section 9(c) of the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. 159(c)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

`(6) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, whenever a petition shall have been filed by an employee or group of employees or any individual or labor organization acting in their behalf alleging that a majority of employees in a unit appropriate for the purposes of collective bargaining wish to be represented by an individual or labor organization for such purposes, the Board shall investigate the petition. If the Board finds that a majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for bargaining has signed valid authorizations designating the individual or labor organization specified in the petition as their bargaining representative and that no other individual or labor organization is currently certified or recognized as the exclusive representative of any of the employees in the unit, the Board shall not direct an election but shall certify the individual or labor organization as the representative described in subsection (a).

Is an election still theoretically possible? Yes, but only if union organizers stop gathering cards before getting half of the employees signatures (specifically, between 30 percent and 50 percent). Only if union organizers — and ONLY the union organizers — are willing to call an election they know they’ll lose. And that would happen about never.

Leave a Reply