When Washington abuses its power, voters can and must repair the damage. Thanks to the 10th Amendment, we have powers to do so. The current threat to eliminate voting by secret ballots in certain elections, so-called "card check" legislation, is the perfect opportunity for citizens to unite and defend against an out-of-control Congress.
This is why Save Our Secret Ballot (sosballot.org) is organizing in multiple states for the purpose amending state constitutions to specifically protect the fundamental right to vote by secret ballot.
The new Congress and President are poised to enact the grossly misnamed "Employee Freedom of Choice Act" (EFCA), which actually reduces workers’ rights to a secret ballot election when deciding whether to unionize their workplace.
Anxious to enlarge their stagnant numbers, union bosses want a new option: intimidate workers into signing union pledge cards and forego a secret ballot election, which is currently required.
EFCA was already approved by the last Congress on a 241-185 vote in the House and 51-49 in the Senate, with only a filibuster 60-vote threshold stopping it.
Having invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the last election to elect the most-liberal Congress and President in history, the unions want payback. With an eager-to-sign President Obama urging passage, EFCA may have the votes needed.
No worker should be intimidated, abused or coerced into joining or not joining a union. Whether the bullying is by labor or by management, it’s equally wrong. This is why Save Our Secret Ballot has organized to place protective language in state constitutions.
Crafted by respected constitutional scholar Clint Bolick at The Goldwater Institute, the amendment reads:
"To preserve and protect the fundamental right of individuals to vote by secret ballot, where local, state or federal law requires elections for public office or ballot measures, or requires designations or authorizations of employee representation, the right of individuals to vote by secret ballot shall be guaranteed."
Committees have already launched efforts in Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, Nevada and Utah with additional states being organized. By initiative petition or via legislative referendum, our goal is to give the secret ballot constitutional protection in as many states as possible in the 2010 election.
Until labor union bosses pulled their strings, even EFCA’s current sponsors took an opposite stance. In 2001, several of the bill’s current sponsors (including principal author Democrat Rep. George Miller of California), wrote Mexico’s government, "We understand that the secret ballot is allowed for, but not required, by Mexican labor law. However, we feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose."
In 2007, the Obama nominee for Labor Secretary, Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.), protested that a secret ballot should be used by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to pick its new chairman.
And in 1998, the AFL-CIO, United Auto Workers, and others told the National Labor Relations Board that secret ballots were essential when workers decide whether to decertify a union, saying, "Other means of decision-making are not comparable to the privacy and independence of the voting booth," and that secret ballots provide the best way to avoid "the result of group pressures and not individual decision."
Perhaps out-of-touch representatives and senators in Washington will get the message and back off their attack on the secret ballot.
SOS Ballot will not back off. The threat of Congressional action will not go away even if ERCA’s progress is slowed down. Our goal isn’t just to kill the legislation — our goal is to kill the idea of eliminating secret ballot rights.
The secret ballot is the key to protecting our other rights. Without secret ballots, we would lose:
— Freedom from intimidation
— Freedom of choice
— Freedom of conscience
The secret ballot is a hallmark of civil rights, allowing all of us to vote without fear or reprisal. The United States supports secret ballot elections in emerging democracies around the world. Our soldiers fought and died in Iraq and elsewhere to establish this right.
Most of us have assumed voting by secret ballot already was a protected right in America. Now it’s time to make sure that it is. Now it’s time to Save Our Secret Ballot.