Saturday, July 11, 2009

Card Check Threatens Employee Privacy

Although it's been placed the backburner, organized labor and their allies in Congress and the White House have been pushing the improbably named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). This measure contains a provision known as "card check" which would do away with the secret ballot in union elections.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce...
Under the existing law today, workers have a chance to vote for or against unionization in a private-ballot election that is federally supervised. Under Card Check, if more than 50% of workers at a facility sign a card, the government would have to certify the union, and a private ballot election would be prohibited--even if workers want one. By forcing workers to sign a card in public--instead of vote in private--Card Check opens the door to intimidation and coercion.
This YouTube video summarizes the economic impact of card check:

Isn't the secret ballot one of the cornerstones of democracy? What reasonable person would support a bill that would subject a worker to possible threats from either management or labor (in the contemporary workplace, we know intuitively where most of the intimidation would come from--but either source is unacceptable in a free society)? If, for example, union advocates are so convinced that forming a union is such a great idea, why would they oppose a vote after each side gets a chance to present their case? Card check is a throwback to an era, a world of work, that no longer exists.

Sixty years ago labor laws rightfully helped level the playing field for employees. And yes, as we've pointed out numerous times in this blog, employers continue to make unfair, arbitrary, and irrational decisions in the workplace to the detriment of hard-working employees.

But making it easier to install a corrupt union--which will generally protect featherbedding employees rather than workers with legitimate grievances--won't help. Card check is really more about a money grab--allowing union bosses to confiscate more dues to spend on politics rather than collective bargaining.

Today, politicized and overreaching unions have forced business to go under and have nearly bankrupted states and municipalities (in the case of overpaid, overbenefitted public sector employees). Management has to share a lot the blame by bad decisionmaking including giving away the store to the unions in many instances, and failing to be more aggressive with regard to concessions or give-backs. That aside, with the economy on the brink and many businesses barely holding on, rigid and wasteful union work rules are the last thing a company needs to stay viable and continue to keep workers on the payroll. To survive in this financial climate, business must operate more efficiently than ever. The obsolete union-contract straitjacket "doesn't fit" anymore.

Ironically, union bosses often aren't very keen on collective bargaining when it affects their meal ticket directly. For example:
One of the leading proponents of a bill that would allow workers to form a union by signing authorization cards is being accused by a California health care union of blocking such a card-check election for its members.
In January, the National Union of Healthcare Workers was established by former leaders of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West. They had been removed from SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West executive board and steward positions after accusing the SEIU of centralizing power at its Washington headquarters and making “corrupt deals” with employers.
Since then, about 100,000 health care workers throughout California have petitioned to leave the SEIU and join the new union. The effort has been stymied, according to the National Union of Healthcare Workers, by SEIU tactics that resemble those of businesses that want to prevent unions from forming.
The SEIU has tied up the process by filing charges in court and at the National Labor Relations Board, according to the union. It also has been accused of intimidating workers who want to change union affiliation....
One person involved in the California health care union’s defection from SEIU found it ironic that [SEIU president Andy] Stern would not let the decertification process occur through card check.
“He seems to be an advocate of EFCA except for SEIU members,” said John Borsos, vice president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers.
And if EFCA goes through in some form, what's next--ACORN instead of the NLRB supervising union elections?

Click here for a Federalist Society online debate about EFCA.

Update: George Will weighs in on the Obama-Big Labor connection:
HOW does the Obama administration love organized labor? Let us count the ways it uses power to repay unions for helping to put it in power. It has given the UAW majority ownership of Chrysler. It has sent $135 billion of "stimulus" money to states to protect unionized public-sector employees from layoffs and other sacrifices that private-sector workers are making. It has sedated the Office of Labor-Management Standards, which protects workers against misbehavior by union leaders.
Now it is the Teamsters' turn at the trough. Congress might change labor law to assist UPS, a Teamsters stronghold, by hindering its principal competitor, FedEx.