Sen. Ensign Says Labor Not Giving Up on Card Check

Republican leaders continued their campaign against the Democrats’ “Employee Free Choice Act” — their Orwellian name for legislation that will deny free elections in union organizing — yesterday. Their aim is to kill off the legislation for at least this year. But before we breathe a sigh of relief and add Big Labor to the long and growing list of supporters the president has thrown under the bus when they were no longer convenient, Republican leaders are warning us to be vigilant for a variety of compelling reasons.

In an exclusive interview with HUMAN EVENTS, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) issued a strict warning to watch what senators say when making public statements about opposing the card check legislation.

“We’ve seen the unions operate in the past, and they don’t give up this easily,” Ensign said. “Certainly the Employee Free Choice Act — getting rid of the right to a secret ballot — is not doing well right now with several Democrats coming out against it and Arlen Specter coming out against it. If you notice, they always say ‘in its current form,’ and that makes you nervous. What kind of compromise is going to be attempted, because there can be no compromise on this legislation. It is a terrible, un-American piece of legislation. Getting rid of the secret ballot and imposing mandatory arbitration on what the workplace rules are, how much wages are, healthcare benefits are and those kinds of things, it literally is un-American and that is why we cannot afford compromise on this. Compromise always makes you nervous on Capitol Hill, especially when they’re trying to compromise and get bad legislation through.”

Ensign told us he wasn’t aware of any negotiations toward a “card check” compromise. But he warned that will only spur the unions to more intense efforts to grow the Democratic majority in the Senate. “Let’s say that it doesn’t have a chance this year, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a chance next year or even after the next election. The unions are going to put tremendous resources into the next election. If they can’t get 60 votes now, you can bet they’re going to go all out. They did in the last election. They’re going to put every bit if not more resources into the next election because they know that they already have the White House. They can put 100% of their resources into electing Senate Democrats and getting to that magic 60 number. They know they already have the House, they have the White House, they can focus all of their resources on the Senate.”

Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke  yesterday about the lack of incentive the legislation would provide for unions to negotiate a fair contract within the 90-day window and what mandatory arbitration and government-mandated contract baselines would do to job creation and the American economy.

“Binding arbitration, which they intend to impose, is a grab of power by the federal government,” Romney said. “Basically they’re saying that the workers in the workplace and the management that are running an enterprise will not be free to set their own work rules and their own compensation parameters but instead the federal government will step in and start mandating these things for American businesses."

“Our economy is a living entity in some respects in that there are literally millions of jobs that are lost every year as businesses go out of business," Romney continued. "And they are replaced by a little more, in normal years, a little more than the millions that are lost by the millions that come in as new businesses start up and as they grow. It’s an ongoing process of creative destruction.

“If you say to entrepreneurs, the people who are thinking about risking their own money to start a business, hey, guess what, if you start a business in the United States of America there’s a very significant chance that once you reach 10 employees that your employees are going to be targeted and intimidated to form a union. You won’t even know it’s happening. Then there’s going to be a potential for a binding arbitrator to come in and tell you how to have your work rules and tell your business how to pay your people. If you create that kind of cloud over the creation of a business, you’re going to encourage fewer and fewer entrepreneurs. It is a black cloud on entrepreneurship. It would be a dampener for the creation of new enterprise.

I asked Romney what a government arbitrator’s imposition of a baseline, two-year contract in a newly-unionized business would do to subsequent contracts as well as to contracts for new, startup businesses.

Romney said, “I think the effect would be that an entrepreneur is going to ask him or herself, ‘Do I really want to get into business with this kind of threat?’ And they’re going to hear stories across the country of what happens to certain businesses that get started and the kind of work rules and compensation levels that are imposed upon them, and there are going to be a number of entrepreneurs who are going to say I just don’t want to risk my life savings on beginning an enterprise which could become worthless because the government steps in and tells me what I have to do.

“It’s about as un-American a thing as I can imagine,” Romney concluded. “They are taking away the right to a secret ballot and then taking away the right of workers and an employer to decide how much they’re going to be paid and what their work rules are going to be. It’s extraordinary.”