Politics

Obama’s Payoff to Unions

We’re ready to play offense for organized labor. It’s time we had a president who didn’t choke saying the word ‘union.’ A president who strengthens our unions by letting them do what they do best: organize our workers. . . . I will make it the law of the land when I’m president of the United States. . . . ” ~ Barack Obama

"We cannot be a party that strips working Americans of the right to a secret-ballot election." ~ George McGovern

If Obama is elected president, which is highly likely according to the latest political futures market Intrade (now a 65% chance of winning), get ready for a unionized America and the end of the worker’s right to a secret ballot.

If he gets his way, Obama is ready to force millions of Americans into unions by eliminating, for all practical purposes, this fundamental American right.

This betrayal of a bedrock principle of U.S. democracy can only mean one thing: America will go the way of Europe, i.e., higher unemployment, slower GDP growth, a higher cost of living, and no new job creation. That’s the history of highly unionized states like Michigan. Since the end of World War II, America has steadily moved toward a more dynamic, flexible labor market, which has resulted in huge job creation and a higher standard of living for all workers. But — if Obama and the unions have their way — that is about to change.

Obama is a strong supporter of the falsely-named “Employee Free Choice Act” (also known as the Card Check bill) sponsored by Ted Kennedy. It almost passed Congress this year and is certain to become law if Obama becomes president. Obama told the AFL-CIO this year, "I will make it the law of the land when I’m president of the United States." (President Bush has threatened to veto the legislation.)

What’s so bad about the “Employee Free Choice Act”? The name is positively Orwellian: instead of preserving workers’ ability to make the decision to unionize by secret ballot, it does just the opposite. The bill makes it much easier to create a union at a business — the union bosses can publicly pressure a majority of workers to sign union authorization cards (thus, the name “card check”). There is no secret ballot — workers sign the cards in front of other employees and union leaders, and union officials keep the signed cards until they obtain the required number. Under the watchful eyes (and arm twisting) of union organizers, workers will be intimidated into signing.

Union supporters deny that the secret ballot is eliminated. Once the union leaders are accepted as the exclusive bargaining agent for the workers, employees can then freely vote for or against the union in a secret ballot.

The problem is that the card check process creates heavy peer pressure to support the union publicly, even if workers have misgivings privately. As the Wall Street Journal editorialized, "Unable to organize workers when employees can vote in privacy, unions want to expose those votes to peer pressure, and inevitably to public intimidation.”

Congressman John Klein (R-Minn.) has warned, “It is beyond me how one can possibly claim that a system whereby everyone — your employer, your union organizer, and your co-workers — knows exactly how you vote on the issue of unionization gives an employee ‘free choice.’…. It seems pretty clear to me that the only way to ensure that a worker is ‘free to choose’ is to ensure that there’s a private ballot, so that no one knows how you voted. I cannot fathom how we were about to sit there today and debate a proposal to take away a worker’s democratic right to vote in a secret-ballot election and call it ‘Employee Free Choice.’”

The potential for abuse is enormous. Even long-time Democrat George McGovern is opposed to the Card Check bill: “To my friends supporting the Employee Free Choice Act, I say this: We cannot be a party that strips working Americans of the right to a secret-ballot election. We are the party that has always defended the rights of the working class. To fail to ensure the right to vote free of intimidation and coercion from all sides would be a betrayal of what we have always championed.”

Happily, Sen. McCain opposes the pro-union bill. “I am strongly opposed to H.R. 800, the so-called Employee Free Choice Act of 2007. Not only is the bill’s title deceptive, the enactment of such an ill-conceived legislative measure would be a gross deception to the hard-working Americans who would fall victim to it.”

Business leaders should especially be alarmed about another aspect of H. R. 800. It gives unions the option to have federal arbitrators write the terms of a binding contract, setting wages, benefits, hours, work rules, and all other terms of employment if negotiations between the employer and union fail. And this contract has the force of law for two years.

Bernard Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot, warns that this legislation is so harmful that it is nothing short of a “hostile takeover” of American business and will result in making the United States uncompetitive in the global world and will ship millions of jobs overseas: “When I asked CEOs if they had heard of this attack on principles that form the bedrock of our democracy — secret ballots in elections — only 7 out of 100 raised their hands. And yet, this plan has the potential to redraw the political and economic landscape of America. CEOs, and for that matter all Americans, need to know how this legislation would jeopardize our system of free enterprise.”

Spread the word: An Obama victory means a unionized America, higher cost of living, more unemployment, a static economy, and a lackluster Wall Street.


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