Card check effort a serious threat to free enterprise

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

Imagine if last November when you walked into your voting booth, the curtain was open and people were watching you vote. Now visualize these spectators are telling you how to vote.

Is that wrong? If you think so, then you would agree that attempts by organized labor to take away an employee’s long-standing right to privacy when voting on the critical issue of whether or not to be represented by an organized labor group.

In 2007, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 800, the sadistically-named “Employee Free Choice Act.” It should really be called the “Employee NO Choice Act,” because it rips away the curtain or privacy and may result in employees being forced to accept a government-negotiated wage and benefit contract.

Organizing by card check would be a radical change in union organizing. It initiates the union drive from outside the business, not by the employees themselves, and means that small business owners would be uninformed about organizing drives.

Rather than hold an election, union representatives would only need to coerce a majority of employees to sign authorization cards. Under this proposal, once a union collects signed cards from a majority of employees, the organizing drive would be over and the business would now become unionized. All of this would occur without the knowledge or involvement of the small business owner.

The threat to employee voting rights is not limited to the federal government. Here in one of the most progressive states in the nation it is more than a little bit hypocritical that organized labor would call for the elimination of secret ballots for agricultural employees when they themselves claimed years ago it was necessary to protect employee rights.

Why would unions want to do away with the secret ballot? Because it stacks the deck in their favor . . . and they need every trick they can get their hands on. The reality is that unions won 54 percent of the 1,559 elections conducted in 2007, but using card checks they win more than 90% of the time.

But the most troubling aspect of this plan for small businesses is a provision that mandates compulsory, binding arbitration on the employer and the employees as part the collective bargaining process. Under the union’s proposal, if a card check organizing drive is successful, an employer has 120 days to accept the union’s contract offer. If the two sides do not agree to a contract during this time period, then a federal government bureaucrat would come in and decide the wage and benefit terms for the workforce.

Here’s what concerns small business owners about card check:

First, their employees’ rights would be restricted and they would be vulnerable to harassment and misinformation.

Second, card check organizing would occur outside the workplace and without the knowledge of the small business owner.

Third, card checks would divide employees and employer, creating an adversarial environment in the workplace and eliminating the family-like relationship many small business owners have with their employees.

Finally, a government bureaucrat could decide the wages and benefits for their employees; instead of the owner and individual employees deciding what best meets their needs.

Let’s keep the sacred right of voting privacy intact in all areas. Unions complain about employer intimidation when they lose elections, but they are not without their history of equal transgressions. Employees deserve the right to make up their own minds behind the curtain of the secret ballot.

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