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Last week, the New York Times reported that the inaptly named “Employee Free Choice Act” was losing the most controversial and highest-profile provision: card check. Card check legislation, contrary to the title of the act, would take away fair choice for employees by doing away with the secret ballot, opening workers to intimidation from both the unions and the employers. As has been belabored at Redstate, destroying the secret ballot takes away the worker’s freedom to vote his conscience without fear of retribution.
The labor unions, special interests, and Democrats pushing for it not only know this, it’s the point. Intimidating workers into voting to unionize would vastly increase the size and power of the unions and, by extension, the Democratic party. These are all things you already know.
So in light of the Times article, is card check dead? Are workers rights being protected? Don’t answer too quickly.
First of all, let’s look at what the SEIU has to say about the death of card check:
“As we have said from day one, majority sign-up is the best way for workers to have the right to choose a voice at their workplace. The Employee Free Choice Act is going through the usual legislative process, and we expect a vote on a majority sign-up provision in the final bill or by amendment in both houses of Congress.” – Andy Stern, SEIU President
In the fight for this provision, the SEIU is one of the most powerful players. They certainly don’t sound done with the issue.
As naked grabs for power go, the push for card check is particularly bare. Take, for example, the hypocrisy shown by the SEIU in internecine warfare recently. When workers tried to switch to a rival union through a card check vote, the SEIU balked. And by balked I mean thugged out.
In January, the National Union of Healthcare Workers was established by former leaders of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West. They had been removed from SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West executive board and steward positions after accusing the SEIU of centralizing power at its Washington headquarters and making “corrupt deals” with employers.
Since then, about 100,000 health care workers throughout California have petitioned to leave the SEIU and join the new union. The effort has been stymied, according to the National Union of Healthcare Workers, by SEIU tactics that resemble those of businesses that want to prevent unions from forming.
The SEIU has tied up the process by filing charges in court and at the National Labor Relations Board, according to the union. It also has been accused of intimidating workers who want to change union affiliation.
John Boros, Vice-President of the rival union, said Andy Stern “seems to be an advocate of EFCA except for SEIU members.”
But hypocrisy and intimidation are not unique to just the SEIU, as Cleveland Jobs with Justice, a “coalition of 62 labor, community and faith organizations,” demonstrates. The fax obtained by Redstate below was sent by the group to Wal-Mart managers in the Cleveland area recently. Have a look (click on the image to see full size):
“We are here today to give you the opportunity to change that.”
“If you refuse to allow your workers to enjoy workplace democracy as we have outlined, we insist you tell us why” … emphasis mine.
The pressure tactic is being used against store managers. For now. But just imagine what the weight of a powerful group like this can bring against individual workers that don’t check the appropriate card, if you catch my meaning.
The real irony is in the repeated appeals to the sanctity of the democratic process; the specific appeal to a secret ballot. Big labor readily, publicly, and without fear, alternately support and oppose secret ballots as it suits them, and alternately support or oppose card check depending on whether they will benefit. Naked.
Is card check dead? Not 100%. The unions are powerful, they have little to fear, and they aren’t above intimidating store managers and individual workers. It is for these reasons that they may yet get card check back on the table, and it is for these reasons that we must fight to keep it off.