By Stephen DeMaura
When millions of Americans went to their polling places this November they cast their vote in a manner that has protected the sanctity of American democracy since our founding. They cast a secret ballot. This fundamental right allowed them to make a choice on their own, apart from the pressures of their friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.
Recently in Washington both Democratic and Republican members of Congress gathered to vote for their leaders. They too did so in the American tradition... with a secret ballot.
Some of these same officials now want to take away a workers right to a secret ballot.
Some have called this a payback to the union bosses who spent nearly a half billion dollars this election year to elect pro-union politicians. I simply call it wrong.
The so-called “Employee Free Choice Act” would do many thing to pad the unions coffers at the expense of American competitiveness but most egregiously it would eliminate a worker’s right to a secret ballot.
The current unionization process is that once 30% of a company’s workers sign union authorization cards the National Labor Relations Board oversees a secret ballot vote, typically six weeks after the cards have been authorized, to determine if unionization will occur. During the six week period both the union and the employer have the opportunity to present their case and campaign for votes.
With implementation of this legislation unionization will occur without a secret ballot election and without both unions and employers being presented the opportunity to present their case. The Act states that unionization would occur when 50% of employees sign authorization cards.
In addition to the elimination of a workers right to a secret ballot other troubling parts of the legislation exist. A few examples; after a union has been formed if the union and the employer have not reached agreement within 90 days a federal arbitrator in a two year binding decision sets the benefit package for employees. In addition, with the loss of the secret ballot employees would be open to coercion and “unfair labor practices.” This law significantly increases penalties on companies only, not unions for coercive behavior.
The influence and size of big labor has decreased dramatically since the 1950’s and it has the well heeled union bosses willing to do almost anything to maintain power. Union bosses have turned to their allies who they spent hundreds of millions of dollars to elect and have asked for a bailout. As we have learned recently this is what failing organizations increasingly do. Just as we should hesitate to bailout failing companies, we too should not bailout failing union bosses from the problems they have created.
Stephen DeMaura is the President of Americans for Job Security and they can be found on the web at www.SaveJobs.org.