Paul  Weyrich

One of the most sacred rights Americans enjoy and have enjoyed from the earliest days of our Republic is the secret ballot. With minor exceptions over the years, when one casts a vote privacy is assured. Many states have laws that prohibit politics 100 feet from the sidewalk to the voting booth. Each law varies and people often try to take advantage of those laws, which is why most states permit poll-watchers, often hired by political parties. If a voter encounters someone breaking the law, the voter may approach a poll-watcher to alert the police. I mention this because Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-NV) is about to bring a so-called Card Check Bill to the Senate Floor. In short this bill would deprive workers of the right to a secret ballot when determining whether to have union representation at a person's work place.

Let me explain. Labor unions have been in a state of decline for decades. When I was a child, I remember my parents discussing the many labor-union strikes around the nation. The worst strike was that organized by the President of the United Mine Workers of America, John L. Lewis. At the time Americans were dependent on coal to heat their homes, often in harsh winters. Lewis all but ground the coal mines to a halt in the late 1940s.

The next prize is awarded to United Automobile Workers (UAW) President Walter P. Reuther. He would get automakers to capitulate to a highly favorable contract, then play the automobile manufacturers against one another. To this day, we are paying for contracts with outrageous benefits negotiated in the 1950s. The automobile industry is non-competitive with foreign companies, not because we can't build a decent automobile but because wages and benefits are so high that comparable cars are overpriced.

I digress. I mention this background because during the 1950s approximately one in three workers belonged to a union. Currently the figure is approximately one in twelve. First, firms without labor unions have been able to offer better packages than companies represented by unions. Second, some companies which had unions voted them out. Of course, the unions blame supposed intimidation by representatives of companies in the private sector for their plight.


Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
 
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