Card Check: Sen. McCaskill, Not Enough Votes…But, What?

By March 8, 2009Labor Unions

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) was on ABC News’ “This Week,” and George Stephanopolous asked her about the Employee Free Choice Act. Her response is confusing, very confusing, which is to say, she gets some basic facts incorrect. From the transcript:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Another issue that’s going to come up before the end of this year — and we only have a couple of minutes left — (U.S. Chamber President) Mr. Donohue, you’re going to spend about $10 million, I’ve read, to try to defeat this Employee Free Choice Act, which would give union — unions the ability to organize at a plant if they could a majority of the people at the plant to sign up.

And, Senator McCaskill, let me bring you in on this. Is there anything you can say, you believe, right now, that’ll convince Mr. Donohue to back off that? And do you have the votes to get this done this year?

MCCASKILL: I’m not sure that we have the votes, and I have no hope of backing Mr. Donohue off. I would say that I think it would be fair that we have a secret ballot for decertification of unions. Right now, businesses can go with a card check.

There is no secret ballot to get rid of a union, but there is a requirement of — of that for people to be able to organize. And to me, that seems unfair. Let’s — let’s — what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Let’s put people on a level playing field and have both businesses have to have a secret ballot to decertify. Until they do that, I’m not sure they’ve got a lot of room to complaint.

We interpret the Senator’s first comment to mean the supporters do NOT have the votes to pass the legislation.

As for the rest, she’s just mistaken. There IS a secret ballot provision for decertification elections, and right now it’s a process very similar to the certification process: Gather 30 percent of employee signatures on cards for decertification, and the NLRB will oversee an election. (The National Right to Work Foundation has a good explanatory page.) Contrary to the Senator’s claim, businesses CANNOT just go with card check.

The Senator probably got turned around. Critics of the Employee Free Choice Act make a point of organized labor’s hypocricy*: They’re demanding elimination of the secret ballot for certifying unions, but want to keep it for decertifying. And we say, “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If you’re so wild about card check, allow it for decertifying.”

Not that adding card check decertification would represent a compromise, if that’s what Senator McCaskill was trying to broach. The entire bill is unacceptable.

* For example, see Peter Kirsanow in The Corner from December: “Under EFCA, the decertification process would still require a secret ballot election conducted by the NLRB. If  secret ballot elections are necessary to decertify unions, why aren’t they necessary to certify unions?”

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