Just days from now, voters will head to the polls facing the ultimate irony: potentially electing a President and congressional majority prepared to strip millions of Americans of the same right they will exercise on November 4th inside voting booths across the country: the right to a secret ballot. At stake is the American working men and women’s right to preserve their privacy during workplace unionization elections – a right Democratic leaders like Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid are ready to replace with a decidedly undemocratic process known as a “card check.”
Union elections have been monitored for decades by the National Labor Relations Board and decided by the secret ballot process that citizens of our nation have come to take for granted. The fact is, under the secret ballot, Big Labor has not fared very well. It’s not that the process is unfair – it’s a secret ballot, after all. Quite simply, it has become apparent Americans workers no longer see unionization as a priority. For proof, just look at the numbers. About 50 years ago, about four in 10 private sector workers were unionized. Thirty years ago, that level fell to one in four. Today, it’s less than 10 percent. Big Labor bosses are scrambling to stop the bleeding, and they’ve turned to the card check, even though it undermines a worker’s privacy.
Under the card check process, union organizers and bosses gather authorization cards purportedly signed by workers expressing their desire for a union to represent them. But these card checks often leave workers vulnerable to coercion, pressure, and outright intimidation and threats – from either the management or the union side of the election. That’s why nearly 90 percent of Americans polled on this issue oppose the process.
Imagine campaign workers for Sen. Obama or Sen. McCain – or even the candidates themselves – standing beside you, staring at your ballot as you make that critical choice on November 4th. Imagine your selection being made public to everyone: your family, your friends, and your co-workers. Not a very pleasant scenario, is it? Not a very democratic one either.
While John McCain opposes the undemocratic card check, Barack Obama has promised, “We’ll make it the law of the land when I’m President.” That sort of rhetoric should send a chill down the spine of every man and woman who treasures his or her privacy in the workplace. But if Sen. Obama wins the White House and Democratic majorities are returned to both the House and the Senate, the promise of ending secret ballots in the workplace will not just be part of campaign rhetoric; it will likely become a reality.