As our country celebrates its 238th birthday this Friday, we look back in appreciation of the brave men and women who shaped our country and sacrificed to preserve the ideals of our democracy, one of which is the ability for Americans to vote in secret ballot.
This basic tenet of our society protects our ability to make decisions based on whatever conclusion our minds, hearts and souls may reach before punching a ballot. From our vote for President of the United States to an elementary school vote for student council, the secret ballot allows us to vote without fear of political retaliation or bullying on the playground by people who disagree with us.
This sacred right is under attack right now in the City of Los Angeles, under the seemingly harmless name of Card Check Neutrality. To quickly explain, under the National Labor Relations Act, if a union wants to organize a private sector business, the union needs to follow established guidelines to campaign for support among its workers. Then the National Labor Relations Board oversees a secret ballot election by the employees. If 50 percent plus one support unionization, then the business unionizes.
In recent years, workers have often rejected unions in secret ballots, so a process known as card check was introduced. This allows a union to go to each employee privately to get them to check a card saying they support unionization of the business. If a majority sign, then a union will be put into effect. Reports show many employees are coerced, intimidated or misled into signing these authorization cards, often being told that they are non-binding “statements of interest,” or requests for an election.
Why does this matter in Los Angeles? Currently there is a proposal before the City Council that would create incentives to boost more hotel development. Without public debate or discussion, a sentence has been added that requires any hotel receiving incentives to also pledge Card Check Neutrality.
The hotel incentive as drafted already guarantees a mandated “living wage” to hotel employees, so the practical impact of the card check clause is that union dues will be forced on many hotel workers who don’t want it.
The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and the business community at-large do not believe that the City of Los Angeles should be jeopardizing the rights of workers by eliminating the secret ballot. We encourage our members to contact City Council members and ask for the removal of this provision before the finalizing of the Economic Incentive Policy for Hotel Development.
Let’s celebrate our 238th birthday by upholding the ideals of our great nation, including the right to a secret ballot.