In this column on March 7, 2006 I discussed the onward, and misleadingly labeled, so-called Employee Free Choice Act, H.R. 800, sometimes referred as to as the "Card Check Bill," passed on March 1 by a House of Representatives vote of 241 - 185. That column follows.
Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao has been active in educating the unwary as to the reverse intent of H.R. 800 - to trap workers into going public, so labor leaders can identify those workers, on the issue of whether they ought to join a union. That is the direct opposite of the false name of the legislation and of the justifications offered to support it.
When President George W. Bush's initial choice for nomination as Secretary of Labor, Linda Chavez, withdrew, following unfavorable publicity, the President selected Elaine Chao. He could not have made a better selection. She is a Cabinet Member who continues strong and effective in the second half of the second George W. Bush term. Ms. Chao has excellent conservative credentials and operates upon principle. Not only that, she has assembled a remarkably competent staff. Unlike too many conservatives' taking office she did not surround herself with political enemies.
By irrelevant coincidence, Elaine Chao is the wife of Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Her background is impressive, including college at Mount Holyoke, a Harvard M.B.A., and before the marriage, experience in banking and industry, as well as Deputy Maritime Administrator, Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, and the recipient of a number of nongovernmental awards.
I mention this by way of background because Secretary Chao also expresses great concern about this legislation and authoritatively discusses it with interested groups and individuals.
Imagine your moving into a neighborhood in which you could vote for a candidate for office only by checking off a card publicly available to anyone - no secret ballot. You might be hesitant to vote against the powers-that-be lest, especially in some corrupt cities, you would discover that public services around your house were hard to come by. From enactment of the Taft-Hartley Act in the 80th Congress (1947 - 1948), discussed further in the column following, until the present union membership has dropped from about 35% of the work force to some 12%. Almost certainly the biggest single reason for the drop is the secret ballot.