Friday, January 2, 2009

"Pre-eminent business-labor fault line" - Card Check in 2009

The Ballot Box, Governing magazine's political blog, calls Card Check "the pre-eminent business-labor fault line." In this post today, Ballot Box writes that, "As greatly expanded Democratic majorities in Congress take office this month, along with President Barack Obama, the chances for the bill to allow card check, the Employee Free Choice Act, will improve greatly."

In anticipation of the above, a new group called "Save our Secret Ballot" has been formed, and they are taking their arguments to the state level. They are starting with five states: Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, Nevada and Utah.

According to the Save our Secret Ballot press release: "In Arkansas, Arizona, and Missouri local committees are filing for citizen initiative petitions to amend their state constitutions to require secret ballots. In Nevada and Utah, state senators and representatives will announce efforts to legislatively refer a secret ballot constitutional amendment to the November 2010 ballot. If the legislative referral fails to pass in Nevada or Utah, citizens’ initiative petitions will be gathered to place the measure on the ballot."

In 2008, the legislature passed a card check bill, HB2974, which was vetoed by the Governor prior to the end of session. The legislature did not override the veto.

1 comment:

Boyd said...

This card check process is supposedly to 'level the playing field.' Actually, the field is already tilted to the union side: 1) 65% of all secret ballot elections are won by the union side; 2) it only takes 1/3 of employees to sign a card for a union election be become mandatory; 3) once notified of a union's having obtained enough cards the employer's free speech rights become severely limited, and the two contestants (union vs. employer&management) are made extremely unequal. a) The employer cannot say or print anything that is not demonstrably true or suffer and expensive unfair practices hearing. b) The union reps can promise anything, say anything, with impunity. c) The employer cannot promise anything, and may even be construed as unfairly 'buying' the election if a scheduled raise is given! d) Yet union organizers can provide free food and drink and other tangible favors while persuading the employees to their side. e) Union organizers can also promise all manner of outcomes which are not in their power to perform, again with no sanction likely whatsoever.

Admittedly the employer can hold mandatory meetings but these are closely monitored by union-sympathetic workers and anything construed as a promise, any statement not exactly the truth, will be sanctionable as an unfair practice at great cost to the employer.

In brief, union's record of winning elections by secret ballot, the uneven free speech rights of employers vs. unions during an election, and the ease with which an unfair practices claim can impose large costs on the employer while the union can do all manner of unfair persuasion, means that the playing field is already tilted toward one side. If it is to be leveled, rules on accuracy in union organizing rhetoric, and a prohibition of promises that can't be kept, some 'truth in advertising' provisions, are needed for the unions to follow.

Allowing so-called card check to eliminate the secret ballot is a gigantic blow against the individual civil rights of Hawaii’s workers. And card checks' mandated imposition of a union agreement by an arbitrator after only 60 days of negotiations means that, effectively, workers who oppose a union are steamrollered without even a chance to vote. For once 50% plus one have ‘checked’ a card (which may not be their considered opinion, only a wish for higher pay), the other 49% need not be consulted at all! That is disenfranchisement with regard to each workers’ livelihood, a loss of rights perhaps even more immediately serious for the individual than loss of voting rights in elections would be.

It is sadly ironic that it is the supposedly democratic side that is willing to sacrifice the workers’ right to vote. Let’s not become a republic of intimidating factions, let’s keep the secret ballot where it really counts – in the workplace!