Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Senator Specter Opposes Employee Free Choice ... For Now

The proposed Employee Free Choice Act has been criticized because it supposedly eliminates the secret ballot. When Congressman Charlie Dent first voted against this legislation in 2007, he said it "should be called the ‘Secret Ballot Elimination Act.’ Would we stand for this kind of system to elect members of Congress, the state legislature, or city council? Secret-ballot voting is a cornerstone of our democratic system, and the American people should not be denied this right in any aspect of their lives."

AFL-CIO blogger Chicago Carless disagrees, and I tended to side with him. "In reality, the Employee Free Choice Act puts the choice about how to authorize a union squarely in the hands of workers, where it belongs, and protects workers from the current, nonstop onslaught of illegal intimidation by anti-union companies."

U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), under fire for his recent pro-stimulus vote, has finally decided to oppose the bill in its current form, at least for now. "The better way to expand labor’s clout in collective bargaining is through amendments to the NLRA rather than on eliminating the secret ballot and mandatory arbitration."

Specter concedes there are serious problems within the NLRB. "When Republicans controlled the Board, the decisions were for business. With Democrats in control, the decisions were for labor. Some cases took as long as eleven years to decide. The remedies were ineffective."

He has proposed changes to the NLRA. For example, it would be an unfair labor practice for a union to visit an employee at his home to pressure him in a representation campaign. It would also be an unfair labor practice for a company to hold employees in a "captive audience" speech unless the union is given equal time. If proposed changes to the NLRA turn out to be ineffective, Snarlin' Arlen is willing to support employee free choice when the economy rebounds. You can read his entire floor statement here.

I like his approach. He's willing to aim at the evils complained of by both union and management without elimination a secret ballot. His idea is worth a try, but I don't know if it stands a chance.


Joe Hilliard said...

How can a secret ballot allow any intimidation? No one would know how an individual votes. There could be other methods of intimidation, but when it comes down to a vote, there can be no intimidation - because the vote cast is secret.

When Don Cunningham allowed "card check" to unionize Cedarbrook, the Union went to people's homes with a card to sign in support of the Union. That IS intimidation.

Could you imagine if this practice was allowed for a Presidential election?

"Hi. We are here to help you vote. Sign right here to vote for the incumbent. Oh yeah, the dark sedan parked out front just has a few IRS agents in it. If you vote the right way, we will be on our way."

Or what if a company could use "card check" to oppose a union or decertify a union?

"Hi. We are from the company and we really, really want to protect your job. Just sign on the dotted line."

Only a blind partisan - for either side - would support such a ludicrous process.

Keep the secret ballot. It is the ultimate protection against intimidation when it is time to vote. Or afterwards.

Anonymous said...

No one is taking away the secret ballot. The card check allows for a ballot. Really folks, have you strayed that far from the roots of your parents and grandparents.

trolls swallow golden showers said...

Joe Hilliard, do you ever think for yourself? Or is every thought in your head spoon fed via Fox and AM radio?

You "conservatives" crack me up. Your for privacy with Union votes but against it with our phone calls, library records, health records, and god knows how many other dozens of invasions of our privacy jack assed conservatives like yourself would say "Post 9-11 we live in a diffrent world."

Its a world where you and your jabronies can goosestep all over the Bill of rights, but heaven forbid any bills get passed to help blue collar Americans who get dirty for a living (unlike you!), well then to hell with the little people! Right Joey?

Anonymous said...

"No one is taking away the secret ballot. The card check allows for a ballot."

Only if it's requested by a certain % of the workers, as opposed to the current rule which allows a secret election if requested by the employer which will ultimately be the one bearing the costs of unionization.

Your comment is reflective of the insincere approach that supporters of the bill take to fundamental workplace principles, such as allowing employees to determine whether they wish to be represented collectively.

It's a watershed moment in the American labor movement. Thankfully Senator Specter is voting his conscience . . . and w/ common sense.

Anonymous said...

The only reason for taking away the secret ballot is to identify, target and intimidate those who are not voting the way you want them to.

Today's MC article mentions that Specter said the dismal economy makes it "a particularly bad time" to enact the Employee Free Choice Act, the so-called "card check" law, but that he might reconsider "when the economy returns to normalcy."

So Specter believes it's ok to pass the job-killing "card check" bill when the economy is better? That's ridiculous.

This should NEVER see the light of day and Specter is wrong to have EVER supported it. The fact that this bill even had a chance highlights the pathetic state that our country is in.

I say good luck to Pat Toomey. Hopefully he can bring some common sense back to the federal government.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, I like Specter's idea. It retains the secret ballot while making the intimidation tactics used by unions and employers an unfair labor practice. He addresses the evil complained of by both sides. If that fails, then it's time for employee free choice.

Anonymous said...

It's a watershed moment in the American labor movement.

What is that? The moment when labor is officially marginalized in this country?

LVCI said...

Back On Feb. 19th I commented that I thought anything other then using the 'Secret Ballot" is a BAD IDEA.

I personally was strong armed to sign a union card or risk the consequences a few years back.. (click on my name)

Anonymous said...

Only reactionary, heartless, anti-labor, right-wing lunatics think the EFCA is a bad idea that takes away secret ballots - except for lifetime pro-labor former Democrat Senator and presidential candidate George McGovern, of course.

takemyfreedomsplease said...

Joe... i thought that was called ACORN??

freedom of speech and a right to privacy seem to be going out the window all because we have allowed gov't to believe they are more important then they really are... and i'm sure with all the Lawyer egos in congress that has nothing to do with it either?

LVCI said...

Only reactionary, heartless, anti-labor, right-wing lunatics think the EFCA is a bad idea- Anonymous (10:52 AM)

Not really.. if fellow employees bring a card around and say sign it or else. The for union guys went through the cards each day and intimated anyone who had not signed the card. That's what happened to me.

It pits one group of employees against others. Made it hell to work in that kind of environment. Secret Ballot eliminates all that and is the only fair way to poll ALL the workers. Pardon me if I wasn't too excited to join another union after..

* The 1st was voted out after they overturned cars & threatened a independent trucker at gunpoint who had his trailer stuck there for 3 months and only wanted to pick up his empty trailer with the doors open.

* Pardon me if I was trying support the 3 of us on $40 a week (strike money) for over 6 months while those union favorites (40 in number) were placed in jobs at Mack while the rest of use were not. Ignored our employee reps to do what the regional union's rep demanded. Who incidentally had one of his other member's groups out on strike for over 2 years at that time! Our own company's union president was getting 20% more then while he was working.

*Pardon me if certain favorites got donated 100- 40lb sacks of potatoes they couldn't manage to share with the rest of us.

* Pardon me if when I had Pneumonia I was forced to freeze on the picket line while every week for 6 months the favorites could stay in the heated trailer with donuts and coffee.

* Pardon me if the vouchers were handed out to certain people before picket duty & they went up to the bar for their picket duty!

I supported that union 100% and that's how I was treated!

I am not a "right wing lunatic". Just not stupid enough to go through that kind of bullshit again.

Why are unions afraid of to have a "secret ballot"? Because they can't intimidate!

Anonymous said...

I think LVCI missed anonymous's (perhaps too subtle) point re: McGovern's thoughtful opposition being consistent with conservatives'; despite the usual polarizing name calling that clouds serious debate on the issue.

LVCI said...

Sophisticated intelligent satire often goes over my head.

Anonymous said...

LVCI - The card doesn't go away with the EFCA. There will still be strong arming going on. The thing that is eliminated is the strong arming by the employer before the secret ballot.

LVCI said...

Anonymous... "Current law says that if 30 percent of workers are persuaded to sign such cards, a company can either recognize the union, or can call for an election by employees with secret ballots. The EFCA removes the secret ballot provision if the goons can bully a majority of workers to sign cards"


Anonymous said...

Specter won't be around long enough to see any results.