A Fight Republicans Cannot Afford to Lose

Lorie Byrd
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Posted: Aug 01, 2008 12:01 AM
A Fight Republicans Cannot Afford to Lose

Republicans are well aware that serious consequences accompany the loss of the House and Senate in 2006, and the possibility of losing the White House in 2008.  Many may not, however, be fully aware of just how many areas of American life are threatened to be affected.  There has been a lot of discussion of the repercussions of Democrat success in November with respect to the issues of taxes, foreign policy, energy policy and the judiciary.  There are other issues, though, which have not received as much attention, but are also at risk.  One example is the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and the issue of “card check.”

Because John McCain has strongly opposed the EFCA, and since it has become an issue is some key Senate races, it may begin receiving increased attention this fall.  Due to the vulnerability of some Republican Senate seats, and the uncertainty of the votes of some Republican Senators, there is a risk of dipping below the 41 vote threshold to prevent passage and for that reason voters should pay close attention to this issue.

Under the deceptively named Employee Free Choice Act, if a majority of employees have signed union cards, employers would no longer be able to demand a secret ballot election.  Oregonians for Employee Freedom says unions “prefer card check because it means they know exactly how people are going to vote. For anyone who doesn’t agree with joining the union, they are more open to threats, intimidation and undue pressure by other co-workers, union organizers and even their supervisors. Workers can even be visited in their homes by union organizers so that the organizers can “persuade” workers that a union is the right thing to do in their workplace.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) “plans to spend some $150 million in this year's election, most of it to get Barack Obama and other Democrats elected.” Earlier this year, blogger Todd Beeton quoted a speech by Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU Anna Burger in which she said the key reason the EFCA is so important to SEIU is that “it is the fuel -- the opening -- for SEIU to change our growth curve from 100,000 to a million or more workers a year.”  Beeton said “that in itself, Burger argues, makes the Employee Free Choice Act larger than any one single issue, even more important than healthcare.”  So not only would the act result in a loss of privacy for employees and greater power for union bosses in the workplace, but it would also serve as a way for those on the left to grow the source of labor’s funding which overwhelmingly goes to support Democrats for election.

Ed Morrisey wrote, “Card Check would make it easy for union organizers to intimidate workers into voting for the union by eliminating the secret ballot, and then the SEIU and other unions could force more cash from workers into the pockets of Democrats…Now the SEIU suddenly has $150 million, from which they’ve already committed at least $85 million specific to Democratic candidates.  That money got squeezed out of the locals under duress, in obvious violation of the spirit and letter of federal law.  The union knows how to protect itself and its interests, and the lockstep nature of their support for Democrats should awaken voters to the threat their policies comprise.  This is nothing more than a closed-feedback loop for Democrats, and Card Check is the prize that will ensure its rapid growth.”

This should give conservatives one more reason to work for the election of John McCain and Senate Republicans in the fall, and should prompt voters to contact their Senators and urge them to vote to defeat the EFCA.  According to Employee Freedom.org, in the Senate race in my home state of North Carolina, challenger Kay Hagan leads Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole in contributions from labor PACs with $46,000 (33 percent of her total PAC contributions) compared to Dole’s $2,000 from labor PACs (.2 percent of her total PAC contributions).  Dole maintains a lead in the latest polls, but recent news is that the DSCC will be making a big investment in the race and if voters turn out as well for Barack Obama in the general election as they did in the N.C. primary, Hagan should receive some down ballot benefit to further tighten the race.

Concerned citizens should be aware of several other Senate votes that could determine this issue as well.   Senator Norm Coleman in Minnesota is a likely vote against the EFCA, but is currently in a competitive race against challenger Al Franken who strongly supports the legislation and is backed by the AFL-CIO.  Roger Wicker, who voted against the legislation in the House, is running for Trent Lott’s seat in Mississippi against former Governor Ronnie Musgrove who supports the EFCA.   Senator Susan Collins is running for re-election in Maine against Rep. Tom Allen who supports the bill and is a co-sponsor of the legislation in the House.

Senators Murkowski in Alaska, Snowe in Maine, and Voinovich in Ohio are not up for re-election this year and are likely, but not certain, votes against the EFCA. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who is also not up for re-election this year, has expressed support for the Employee Free Choice Act.   

Voters concerned about preserving the secret ballot process and limiting the power of unions to influence elections using member dues can take action by supporting candidates opposed to the EFCA and by contacting politicians whose votes are not certain and making their voices heard.