Wednesday, February 28, 2007

 

Who needs a secret ballot when you have 'Free Choice'

Two Op-Eds in Tuesday’s Post concerning a pet project of the Left: the ironically titled “Employee Free Choice Act of 2007

“Labor unions hope this exquisitely mistitled act, which the House of Representatives probably will pass this week, will compensate for their dwindling persuasiveness as they try to persuade workers to join. It would allow unions to organize workplaces without workers voting for unionization in elections with secret ballots. Instead, unions could use the "card check" system: Once a majority of a company's employees signs a card expressing consent, the union is automatically certified as the bargaining agent for all the workers.” George F. Will - An Assault On Corporate Speech

“A proposal to let American workers decide in peace and quiet about whether to join a union has provoked a torrent of crocodile tears from corporate executives. The Employee Free Choice Act, which the House is due to vote on this week, would permit an employee to choose union representation by signing a membership card. If a majority of workers in a defined "bargaining unit" opted for it, employers would have to bargain in good faith with the workers' union.” Lance Compa - A Shield Against Corporate Bullying

The way I understand the law now; if at least 30% of the workers in the defined non-unionized “bargaining unit” sign an authorization card to have a particular union represent them, they’ll have a secret vote on it. If 50% of the workers sign said card, the employer can voluntarily eschew the vote and decide to recognize the union as the authorized rep. But at worst there will still at least be a vote. This so-called “Free Choice” bill would mandate recognition at 50+% with no vote allowed.

I recognize that no matter where we’re positioned on the political spectrum, we are all susceptible to a certain amount of hyperbole and exaggeration. But the pro-bill spin honestly mystifies me: How does losing the right to a secret ballot possibly enhance your freedom of choice? Can anyone point me toward another instance where you could lose your right to a secret ballot in exchange for openly voting in front of partisans and still come away feeling your freedom of choice was furthered?

Many prominent supporters of this bill emphasize the benefits of unionization to workers. Unfortunately (for union officials and union-dependent politicians), workers, when given the right to act in the privacy of the ballot box, haven’t been convinced by these arguments. This is how you know it’s a liberal bill: their trademark “Trust us, we know what’s best for you” mantra is the background music for all of this.

Word is, if the bill lands on the President’s desk, he’ll veto it. Good…his veto pen has been vastly underutilized.

SideNote: George Will writes:

“It would fine employers that, to reduce the incentive to unionize, give workers "unilateral" -- not negotiated -- improvements in compensation or working conditions during attempts at unionization.”

At first glance, I took that to mean that the bill would prohibit such activities. It doesn’t – such activities, believe it or not, are already against the rules:

“Examples of violations of Section 8(a)(1). Employer conduct may, of course, independently violate Section 8(a)(1). Examples of such independent violations are:

• Granting wage increases deliberately timed to discourage employees from forming or joining a union. “
NLRB Basic Guide (pg. 18)

The Bill is an amendment to the National Labor Relations Act which, as they emphasize, is remedial, not criminal. This bill adds civil penalties – including fines of up to $20,000 per violation – which is to what Mr. Will is referring.

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