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.
In the Democrat-controlled Congress that ends later this year, House Republicans mounted enough opposition to sustain a threatened presidential veto in the House, and Republicans – including John McCain – were able to bring the bill down in the Senate, so the measure never even arrived on the President’s desk.
Stronger Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, however, most certainly would get the bill to a President Obama’s desk, and as he has told his supporters in Big Labor, he’d sign it without a second thought. With the stroke of a pen, a time-honored right would be signed away into the pages of history.
To say there is a great deal at stake in this election is an incredible understatement. From the economy and national security to judicial nominations, health care, and energy policy, the ramifications of the choice our nation will make on November 4th will be felt for decades to come. Yet on no single issue could the ramifications be felt more swiftly or more severely than workplace elections.
By killing secret ballot union elections within the first several months of an Obama Administration, a major payback would be delivered to leaders of Big Labor – just one group of radical special interests to whom Democrats in Washington are beholden. Decades of fairness, order, and tradition in the workplace would be overhauled. And worst of all, a tenet of American democracy would be effectively shredded. That’s change alright – change of the very worst kind.