Union officials are working in concert with their allies in the Obama Administration to implement an electronic version of "card check" that would jeopardize voter confidentiality and open the way for coercive anti-democratic tactics, according to free market groups.
Under the card check scheme included as part of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) would be required to certify a union without a secret ballot election once labor representatives obtained signatures from 51 percent of a company's workforce. In practice, this means workers would no longer have the opportunity to debate the merits of a particular union and to cast their votes in private. Moreover, union bosses would be in control of the cards and would know who signed for and against representation.
Despite having large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress and a sympathetic White House, EFCA has stalled on Capitol Hill. But on June 9, the NLRB's contracting office issued an information request for securing electronic voting services that suggests its members are working to secure administratively what cannot be passed legislatively.
"There isn't much difference going door to door with the card you want workers to sign and going door to door with a PDA or a lap top and getting them to submit that way - it's difficult to determine what the contours of an electronic voting scheme would look like in this stage, it looks like the NLRB is just putting out feelers," Will Collins, deputy communications director with the National Right to Work Foundation (RTWF) has observed. "It's very easy to imagine, how a remote voting scheme that relies on portable electronics can be abused particularly in an era everyone is walking around with cell phones and lap tops that connect to the internet immediately. That's why we are very opposed to the idea of remote voting when it comes to unionization elections. Ideally they should all be conducted with a secret ballot."
Brett McMahon, an Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) representative who is also vice president of Miller & Long, a Maryland-based concrete construction company, sees a huge potential problem with determining eligibility and validity of electronic votes. Moreover, voter anonymity could be comprised since a specific time and date are connected with e-votes, he warns.
Although the concept of electronic voting remains in its embryonic stages, there some precedent and similarity where mail voting is concerned. The Right to Work Foundation raises this point in a letter it sent to the NLRB as follows:
"By permitting mail balloting only "where circumstances tend to make it difficult for eligible employees to vote in a manual election or where a manual election, though possible, is impractical or not easily done," the Board's Casehandling Manual, § 11301.2, implicitly acknowledges that mail balloting is less reliable than secret balloting at polling places monitored by Board agents and the parties' observers. In 1994, the Board considered amending its Casehandling Manual to use mail ballots in a broader range of situations. However, Regional officers filed comments against the expansion, at least one of which pointed out the risk of coercion or intimidation that exists with mail ballots: "The presence of a Board agent at an election gives employees a greater sense of security . . . . [T]he potential for interference by any party in a mail ballot situation [outweighs] . . .any cost savings which might result." Daily Lab. Rep. (BNA) No. 145, at AA2-3 (Aug. 1, 1994). Academic studies confirm our intuitive and experience-based conclusion that remote electronic voting, like mail balloting, will not provide the "secret ballot" elections Section 9 of the Act mandates."
The major point here being that NLRB has in the past acknowledged great deficiencies involving the same voting techniques that are now being advanced. The problem is that Team Obama owes its allegience to labor bosses not rank and file workers who like to kept their vote private.
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