Senators Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, and Mike Enzi (R-Wy.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, on Wednesday introduced in the Senate the Secret Ballot Protection Act (SBPA) — legislation that would guarantee the right of every American worker to have a secret ballot election when deciding whether or not to unionize their workplace. Reps. Tom Price (R-Ga.), the Republican Study Committee chair, John Kline (R-Minn.), and Buck McKeon (R-Ca.) introduced the House legislation with over 100 cosponsors, including minority leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).
The bill would amend the National Labor Relations Act to guarantee that every American worker would be given the protection of secret ballot union elections before being forced into monopoly bargaining.
Sen. DeMint told HUMAN EVENTS yesterday, “We have to ask ourselves in the middle of this economic crisis with the loss of jobs — everyone heard the President [Tuesday] night talk about the importance of doing everything we can to protect and create jobs and get this economy going again — we have to ask ourselves in the middle of this crisis, why would we be using these difficult times as an excuse to expand unionization? Why would we take a business model that has completely destroyed the American auto industry and try to force it onto the entire American economy? Why does this Democrat majority, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, want to deny American workers the fundamental right of a secret ballot?”
For nearly 75 years, American workers have had the right to join or form a labor union and to bargain collectively over wages, hours and working conditions by collecting signed authorization cards from at least 30 percent of the company’s workforce. These signatures are then used to petition the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to supervise an election to settle the question of whether or not a workplace will be unionized. These elections are held within 60 days, and the NLRB follows set procedures designed to ensure a fair election, allowing employees to vote confidentially and without peer pressure or coercion from unions or employers.
Under current labor law, employers can force a union on their own workers by recognizing a union as the exclusive bargaining representative based on a “card check,” or they can insist upon a secret ballot election administered by the NLRB. What Democrats seek to do is broaden the scope of the “card check” signature system currently in place as a means to petition the NLRB for an election. Democrats would allow the “card check” to replace the option for a secret ballot election in the unionization process.
“Democrats have teamed up with union bosses to completely eliminate secret ballot votes in the workplace, and instead impose a mandatory ‘card check,’” DeMint continued. “Under this undemocratic ‘card check’ system, workers are forced to sign cards in support of a union without a secret ballot election, which allows bullying and peer pressure to influence votes. ‘Card check’ is completely unacceptable and un-American, and we must pass the Secret Ballot Protection Act to safeguard workers’ rights for good.”
I asked RSC Chairman Price about recent reports that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has voiced support for the “card check” system and their desire to work with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to make this forced unionization a reality. ACORN is the group under federal investigation by the FBI for charges of facilitating voter fraud and voter registration fraud in a reported 18 states.
Price told me, “I think that points to the political nature of this issue. There are individuals who worked diligently in the last campaign to gain a majority… it’s payback time. And this is payback for the union bosses. There are coalitions out there that will endeavor to help them. The real issue is that this is about worker rights. This isn’t about business or labor. There are intimidation tactics that can occur from an employer to an employee if everything is wide out in the open. This is about a secret ballot which is sacrosanct in American policy production. There can be nothing more important to the American worker in their employment situation than whether or not there’s a union. If they want to have a union, then so be it, that’s fine. But they ought to be able to have the right to a secret ballot.”