Secret ballot on the way out in the U.S.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"
More EFCA stories: herecard-check: here

Progressives want to change the rules so unions win

Hundreds of candidates are running for federal office. When the polls close tonight, more than a hundred million Americans will have voted, all by secret ballots.

But thanks to many of the very politicians running in today’s election, millions of today’s voters could lose their right to a secret ballot in the workplace tomorrow.

It’s cynical, even by political standards, for candidates to accept today’s private votes if they support the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) — a one-bill union bailout for decades of corruption, ineptitude, and insulation from true competition.

Facing a decades-long decline in union membership, labor executives have crafted this law to strip working Americans of the right to cast a private ballot in workplace elections, as they decide whether to join a union. In place of an election, EFCA would impose a petition-like system already proven susceptible to coercion.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

In other words, those loveable, incorruptible Teamsters can solicit employees’ support for an organizing drive in front of their peers and continue harassing them until they sign a card. Once enough employees have signed the card, the union automatically “represents” everyone.

Of course, one can hardly blame the unions for seeking this grotesque bailout, which would send millions of Americans into a union they may not want (or even know about until their dues are sent off to Washington, D.C.). It’s much easier to seek a government bailout than to reform their business model to actually serve the needs of workers.

Union officials figured out that you can’t fight City Hall, but you can buy it. Labor officers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on this election, with EFCA as their top litmus test.

It’s get on board or get run over. If EFCA passes, their investment will have a high return: added control over a teetering economy, plus millions of new union members paying billions of dues dollars.

That’s the politics, but what about policy?

Secret ballot elections are a cornerstone of our democracy. Ending them is panned by nearly everyone. Voters in federal elections get a private vote for a reason: It’s not good for people when those with power over our lives get the ability to track and punish us based on our civic beliefs.

When it comes to choosing a union, the Supreme Court has weighed in, recognizing the superior nature of a private vote. Even union officials seem to recognize that elections are a better way to go. After all, they conduct elections when their own employees want to form a union and they demand elections when employees try to get rid of one.

Perhaps the greatest hypocrisy lies on Capitol Hill. Even EFCA’s own author in the House of Representatives, Rep. George Miller, D-CA, favors secret ballot elections for Mexican workers. Apparently they deserve basic workplace protections, but Americans do not.

While too many politicians have offered up the secret ballot on the altar of union dollars, a few have stood strong. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who fought a similar union attempt to end secret ballots for workers in his state, last week questioned Sen. Barack Obama’s support for EFCA.

“So, Senator Obama, explain to me, how can you deny Americans the right to vote by secret ballot?” he asked. “We all know that, on November 4, we all step into that voting booth, and we draw the curtain, and we all vote secretly. So, why would you deny this voting secretly to the workers of America? That is the question I have for Senator Obama.”

Sadly, it’s a question that ought to be posed to more of our nation’s politicians pandering for secret ballot votes on the one hand and preparing to shred workplace ballots with the other.

- Bret Jacobson is founder and president of Maverick Strategies LLC, a research and communications firm serving business and free-market think tanks.



Blueskyboris said...

Secret ballots are great for non-economic elections, because one's livelihood is not at stake. Closed ballot union elections allow the company or corporation to manipulate, pay off, or scare enough of the union membership to guarantee business friendly election results.

Anonymous said...

The Obama campaign promised a tax cut to 95% of Americans - even though <95% of Americans pay taxes. The Obama campaign held that voters' economic livelihood was at stake during the campaign.

Secret ballot elections limit intimidation by all sides in any contest.

Unions insisted on secret ballot elections for decades. Why should workers be thrown under the bus, now?

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