Americans aggressively guard not only their right to vote, but their right to a private ballot. Whether we’re electing a school board, a mayor, or a member of Congress, we believe in the sanctity and privacy of a secret ballot election.
So who do you think would say something like, “There’s no reason to subject the workers to an election?” A socialist dictator like Hugo Chavez? Fidel Castro?
Actually, it was one of Big Labor’s many union bosses — the same guys who helped put Democrats back in control of Congress by pouring hundreds of millions into their campaign coffers. This week, House Democrats are set to return the favor.
Under the guise of “protecting” workers, a bill by House Democrats would strip American workers of the right to choose — freely and anonymously — whether to unionize. The misleadingly titled Employee Free Choice Act offers neither freedom nor choice, and will leave workers open to ugly union harassment, intimidation, and pressure that still persist today. The San Francisco Examiner called it “exquisitely Orwellian… anti-freedom, anti-democracy.”
Why would Democrats want to change current law, which already gives workers a choice between a private ballot election and the union-favored card check process? Simple: to pay back Big Labor for the millions it has poured into congressional races across the country on behalf of Democrats.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, seven of the top 10 biggest political contributors in the last few election cycles were unions — that means big money for the Democrats. In fact, organized labor gave more than half a billion in contributions to Democratic candidates since 1994 — with more than $1 million in direct contributions to House Democratic leaders in the 2006 cycle alone.
To get a feeling of just how undemocratic the Democrats’ bill is, imagine it is November 2008 and community leaders all across America decide not to hold elections. Instead of heading into a voting booth like you always have, you’re told to show up at town hall and declare publicly — in front of your neighbors and community leaders — for whom and what you’re voting.
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Well this is exactly what House Democrats are proposing for your workplace. Workers will no longer be able to express their wishes privately; their “votes” will be public for everyone — union organizers, employers, co-workers — to see.
Democrats haven’t exactly tried to hide their intentions. When Republicans on the House Education & Labor Committee offered an amendment to allow employees to conduct a card check campaign to decertify a union, Democrats balked. Republicans figured that if Democrats think a card check is good enough to organize a union it should be good enough to break ties with one. But labor unions argued passionately for secret ballot rights in decertification elections calling them “solemn” occasions requiring “privacy and independence.” Committee Democrats fell in line and rejected the amendment.
Republicans also offered an amendment that would have simply protected Americans from being forced to join a union or pay union dues or agency fees against their will. After all, the First Amendment guarantees Americans the freedom of assembly — and that includes the right to not join an organization against their wishes.
Committee Democrats rejected that amendment too. Besides, the easier it is to force workers into unions — and keep them there — the more money will be available for Democratic candidates and causes in the future.
The remarkable thing about the Employee Free Choice Act is the enormous amount of power over the lives of Americans it gives to Big Labor. No other group has the authority to simply draw up a few signatures in order to force others to start paying them money. But that is exactly what Democrats are giving their union buddies. By stripping workers of their right to a private ballot election, Democrats are raiding the wallets of and stripping away fundamental rights from American workers.
House Republicans have an alternative proposal — the Secret Ballot Protection Act, introduced by the late Rep. Charlie Norwood (R.-Ga.). This bill would insist that a union be recognized by an employer and certified by the National Labor Relations Board only if it has won majority support in a private ballot election. The question, ironically, is whether Democratic Leaders will allow the House of Representatives to vote on it.
In the end, the Employee Free Choice Act strips workers of their fundamental right to a private ballot. If Democrats are willing to take that away, what else could be in store?