6/13/08

Dem whacked by card-check ads

Related story: "Voters cool to anti-democratic Democrat"

Citizens begin to learn about false choice

The Employee Freedom Action Committee has launched a campaign against U.S. Rep. Tom Allen, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Sen. Susan Collins. Thursday a full page ad appeared in several daily newspapers slamming Allen for his support of the mis-named Employee Free Choice Act. The act is designed to make it easier for worker groups to unionize and has drawn fire from certain labor groups such as EFAC.

The bill’s opponents refer to it as the “card-check” legislation.

Collins opposes the bill because of a provision that takes away secret ballots in the union process, and the committee drove home this point in their ad, which reads:

“Tom Allen won Tuesday’s Democratic primary through a private ballot vote. Incredibly, he supports a federal law that will force Maine employees into labor unions by eliminating their right to the same private ballot vote.”

The act is sponsored by a bi-partisan group in Congress and has the support of the AFL-CIO. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Millinocket, also supports it. Michaud prides himself on being a card carrying member of the United Steelworkers union.

The bill will:

- Allow workers to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation

- Create stronger penalties for employee rights violations when a union is formed and during first-contract negotiations

- Provide mediation and arbitration in contract disputes

Allen prides himself on standing up for working people, which is why he supports the legislation, said spokeswoman Carol Andrews in an e-mail. Union workers are able to get better wages and benefits because of the collective bargaining process, she said.

“It is no surprise to us that groups who are anti-working people would run attack ads to try to diminish Tom Allen’s hard work on behalf of our middle class and working families,” Andrews said. “And it is no surprise that they would run those attacks in an attempt to favor our opponent who opposed this important legislation that helps level the playing field for working people.”

Tim Miller, a spokesman for the Employee Freedom Action Committee, said there will be more ads coming in the state as a means to raise awareness on the issue. Miller said most Mainers oppose the legislation.

The committee contracted a poll at the beginning of May, which showed that 57 percent of the 400 voters polled opposed the act, where 27 percent support it. Among those polled, 32 percent said they were less likely to vote for Allen because of his support of the bill, and 11 percent said they were more likely to vote for him.

Miller said in existing unions, having a private ballot is a fundamental right, and taking away this right would have enormous implications.

Unions are bad for business, and have hurt the auto and steel industries, Miller said, and unions are the reason for factory shutdowns in the Midwest.

“What happens is that independent, small businesses for a union contract,” Miller said. “(Union leaders) have more interest in advancing their own political power and their own agenda than looking out for the workers.”

Sen. Collins opposes the legislation because it takes away private balloting, said campaign manager Steve Abbott.

“She strongly supports the right for workers to form unions,” Collins said. The bill shows “A clear difference between the two candidates.”

(politickerme.com)

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