The so-called "Employee Free Choice Act": Which Senators to Watch...

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Nov 19, 2008 9:33 AM


North Dakota's two Democratic senators, Dorgan and Conrad are likely to be influential in helping decide whether or not the so-called "Employee Free Choice Act" is passed.  North Dakota is a Right to Work state, but the two Democrats will be pressured to toe the line by the powerful special interests in the Democratic Party.


Well, with the election out of the way, I guess we can get back to the real issues we will face. Remember the deceitfully-named “Employee Free Choice Act” (aka: Card Check)?

... If you don’t, you should get acquainted with it real fast, because if you're a worker, you just might find yourself paying unwanted labor union dues if it passes (and if you're an employer, the reason to oppose this is obvious).  

While a lot has been written about it, you might not really be sure what it is.  The act passed the House in 2007, but will require 60 votes in the senate in order to overcome a Republican fililbuster.

Basically, the act states that if a union can collect signed cards from more than half of a company’s workers, the shop can be automatically unionized with no secret-ballot -- and no chance for employees to hear from their employer and learn about the pros and cons of the union before making a final decision (for example, employees might want to know about union corruption, that they would lose the right to negotiate pay raises and promotions based on merit, that they might be forced to strike, etc).

The proponents of the bill point out it doesn't not eliminate the option for a secret ballot -- and technically speaking, they are correct.  

However, the truth is that there’s almost no way that procedure will ever be used if the easier card-collection mechanism is legalized.  In essence, this act wouldn't just eliminate the secret ballot, it would actually eliminate the ballot.  ... So yes, this effectively would eliminate the secret ballot by rendering it a moot point.  Once the cards are collected, there is no need for an election -- businesses are mandated to begin negotiating only with the union representative.

Of course, there might be a potential balance here if the card-collection procedure were also available for de-unionization.  The vast majority of Union members today never voted to join a union (it came with the job).  And, of course, there is no easy way to opt out of unionization.  So if Unions would allow the same rules to apply when workers want to opt-out of unionization (collect cards from more than half of the workers saying they no longer want to be in a union), this would be a consistent and palatable argument.  

The real goal, of course, is not to be fair, but to unionize more workers.  And, of course, the unions are ignoring people who bring up that idea -- because the vast majority of currently unionized workers never voted to enter a union, and the bosses are scared that they would get voted out.

So essentially they want to be able to harass you into signing a card to unionize yourself, then make it hard for you to get out of the deal when you figure out that you’ve been gamed. Yeah…that sounds like “Employee Free Choice” to me!

The Republicans are going to have to filibuster to stop this monstrosity from passing the Senate…meaning we need to hold at least 41 votes.

One Republican, Arlen Specter (PA), has already crossed to the dark side, and the unions claim they are going to put pressure on Olympia Snowe (ME) and George Voinovich (OH). We should definitely be contacting those three to encourage them to oppose this act. 

But there are also a lot of Democrats from fairly conservative, right-to-work states whom we might be able to bring over as insurance.

The easiest will probably be Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln from Arkansas, Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan from North Dakota, Tim Johnson from South Dakota, and Ben Nelson from Nebraska.  These states are all Right to Work states, which means the state legislatures -- and the population -- would most likely oppose this act (if they are made aware of it, that is).

Some other targets may include Senators Udall (CO), Salazar (CO), Warner (VA), Webb (VA), Bayh (IN), and Bill Nelson (FL).  Virginia and Florida are both Right to Work states, by the way.

Of course, the ultimate goal of the pro-union forces are to support Democratic political causes.  While 30-40 percent of union members are Republicans, the vast majority of union money goes to Democrats.  As such, many union members are contributing financially to causes they abhor.

It’s going to be one heck of a fight trying to shoot this thing down, and we had better get on it now.   

Townhall's Adam Brickley contributed to this post.