The bailout business is the fastest expanding industry these days. Who will be next in the bailout line? Could it be big labor bosses?
Unions have been losing membership over the past several decades under a level playing field that provides for secret ballot elections. So in an effort to bolster their membership rolls, the big labor bosses have come up with a solution, bail them out by eliminating the secret ballot through passage of the misnamed "Employee Free Choice Act" and forcing unions on millions of American workers.
This legislation — which should really be called "The Employee FORCED Choice Act" would allow a union to be formed through the presentation of signed cards of a mere majority plus one of employees indicating support for a union. This new system is known as "card check" and by law would eliminate the secret ballot process. Former Democratic Presidential candidate George McGovern, a strong labor stalwart, has called this unprecedented grab for power a "disturbing and undemocratic overreach."
A second provision of the bill which is equally disturbing is the change to collective bargaining rules which would bring government arbitrators into the workplace to set wages and benefits and all workplace terms if the union and employer couldn’t reach agreement. And the contract developed by the arbitrator would not be subject to a vote – again stripping workers of control over their destiny – and would be binding for two years.
US labor bosses are pushing this bill because they believe it would make it far easier to unionize millions of workers throughout the United States in a broad group of industries and yield hundreds of millions of dollars in new dues into their coffers. Union bosses also are not shy about reminding their congressional supporters about the $400 million they invested in this last election to get their top legislative priority.
But when it comes to eliminating the secret ballot, there is just one problem — American voters say STOP.
In a recent national post-election survey done by Public Opinion Strategies of 800 general election voters, majorities of Republican and Democratic voters alike oppose "The Employee Free Choice Act."
The survey found that when American voters were presented with neutral language describing the key provisions of the bill, they oppose both aspects of "The Employee Free Choice Act". They strongly oppose a card check system and instead support the secret ballot process and they oppose changing the bargaining process: 59% of all voters oppose the elimination of the secret ballot in union organizing elections and 53% oppose binding arbitration in contract negotiations.
In fact, when asked about their preference if a union tried to organize in their own workplace: 81% of employees across the board preferred a secret ballot, with only 14% preferring the card-check process.
The survey found that even most union households oppose both key components of the Employee Free Choice Act with fully 53% of union households opposing the elimination of the secret ballot and 55% opposing binding arbitration contracts that they don’t get a vote on.
In key battleground states (where President-Elect Obama won with less than 55% of the vote), the survey found opposition to elimination of the secret ballot was 67% and opposition to the binding arbitration provision was at 52%.
Given the strong and broad based opposition to this bill among voters, it should not be surprising that political voices across the spectrum have pointed out how divisive this bill would be. Democratic and Clinton Pollster Doug Schoen said: "I think if Barack Obama went forward with card check it would similarly hurt his ability to forge the consensus we need." Schoen noted that this would be seen as "special interest legislation that will arguably benefit union leadership."
David Gray, the Director of the liberal "New American Foundation" said: "Mr. Obama should defer ‘card check’ and focus on these bipartisan priorities first." Gray said that pushing card check would "create enough bad blood that it would impair Mr. Obama’s other priorities that directly help workers." Al From, the Founder and CEO of the Democratic Leadership Counsel guaranteed that card check would be "controversial."
In the press, The Washington Post‘s Ruth Marcus referred to the bill as a "minefield" and The New York Times‘ David Brooks predicted that Democrats would "postpone contentious fights on things like card check legislation."
Across the ideological spectrum among voters and even political pundits — there is wide agreement that card check legislation is not the type of change that Americans voted for this year.