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It’s a truly astounding argument. The vast majority of representative elections are held within two months of a request. Moreover, a secret ballot makes real business intimidation — vote against the union or else! — impossible. If a company pressures or fires pro-union employees, it can be punished under existing law for an “unfair labor practice.” In extreme cases the NLRB can simply order a firm to negotiate with the union, as if the latter had won.
Despite wild charges of pervasive employer abuses, the NLRB has found that union organizers were illegally fired in fewer than two percent of cases. Organized labor loses almost as many elections as it wins because the majority of workers today say they don’t want to join a union. If left-wing activists really believed that the problem was inadequate penalties, they could propose a specific fix.
Instead, the unions say cancel elections and let us win. (Strangely, they don’t advocate authorizing card checks for dropping a union.) Since the other party (never mind our behavior!) sometimes doesn’t play fair while campaigning, we should eliminate the ballot. Not improve the process. Not reverse the unfairness. But do away with any inconvenient vote.
Many Republicans probably would like to apply that logic to Congress after last November. Liberal Democrats, left-wing bloggers, trial lawyers, and labor unions unfairly biased the election, so we should choose legislators some other way. Of course, many Democrats probably had the same reaction after George Bush was elected and reelected.
The real reason organized labor wants card check is that representation elections don’t deliver the results that unions desire. For decades labor organizers won only half the votes. Even today unions lose more than 40 percent of representation ballots. In the view of labor activists that means elections are ipso facto unfair. Obviously it doesn’t make sense for organized labor to ask workers to democratically decide on representation if they vote no almost as often as yes.
Even a super-majority of pro-union cards doesn’t guarantee victory in a subsequent election. A few years ago the AFL-CIO acknowledged that only when it collected signatures from at least 75 percent of the workers did it have an even chance of winning a free vote.
In contrast, the AFL-CIO says it “wins” three-quarters of card-check campaigns. This should come as no surprise. Where is intimidation more likely: a secret ballot election overseen by the NLRB, or a union-organized card check campaign in which signatures are public and obtained through “persuasion” by union organizers?
ALTHOUGH UNIONS LIKE TO PRESENT themselves as representing the little guy against Big Business, in fact organized labor is another Big Business. And unions are as likely to ignore the interests of workers in favor of their own interest as are corporations.
Warns Carl Horowitz of Union Corruption Update, card check “opens workers up to undue pressure from union reps and fellow workers who support them.” Indeed, for all of labor’s posturing about unfair employer practices, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce points out that “the annals of NLRB case law are packed full of examples where card check elections have been challenged on coercion, misrepresentation, forgery, fraud, peer pressure, and promised benefits.”
James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation cites such examples as one “when the worker’s wife — alone at the time — didn’t answer the door, union reps circled the home several times, rapping on the windows before finally leaving. Another batch of reps pulled up to a worker’s house and began videotaping him and his property.” Today, at least, a worried worker can sign a card to escape abuse and then vote no when it really counts, without exposing himself to retaliation. With mandatory card check, which would substitute for an election, unions will have an even greater incentive to muscle recalcitrant workers into signing on.
No wonder organized labor wants to eliminate employee elections. Observes the Nation: “Without this new law, employers will continue to ignore cards and demand elections, even though the only thing these elections have in common with democracy is the casting of ballots.” Duh. What would democracy be without the casting of ballots?
Last month House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised: “We’re going to move on ‘card check,’ because now we set the agenda and that will be part of it.” Moving too are opposition groups, such as the Alliance for Worker Freedom and National Right to Work Committee. A number of organizations and business associations also have created The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace. Anyone who believes in economic freedom for workers needs to act, and act now.
Some critics of organized labor might be tempted to rely on a presidential veto. Alas, for six years believers in limited government and individual liberty have been waiting for the White House to do the right thing. Moreover, Democrats likely will attempt to attach card check to a “must pass” piece of legislation that would be difficult to veto. Finally, it’s important for Congress to kill the bill, discouraging any resurrection even if the Democrats win the White House in 2008.
Economic freedom is likely to be under attack on many fronts in the new Congress. No battle will be more critical than that over card check legislation — more accurately called “The Secret Ballot Destruction Act.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online