11/7/08

Unions use clout with strong-arm tactics

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

Prez Bam pressed by militant unionists

But with the president-elect's support of the deceptively named Employee Free Choice Act, the so-called "card check" bill that would make it easier for unions to organize, Big Labor is poised to make a big comeback.

The House has already passed card check, which would allow unions to do away with secret balloting in union-organizing drives. But the bill failed in the pre-election Senate, receiving only 51 of 60 votes needed for passage.

Current law requires union organizers to hold elections in which employees cast their votes confidentially. These elections are overseen by the National Labor Relations Board, which has standards in place to ensure accuracy and fairness.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"


But union organizers say such oversight is coercive. Rather than an election, they want to collect people's names on authorization cards, forcing people to make their choice publicly known to colleagues and employers. Though retaliation would be illegal, peer pressure could force people to endorse unions, even though they may be bad for business.

union organizers would likely confront manufacturers first. It's also conceivable that hospitals and hotel chains could become union shops. But it's the retailers -- the Walmarts, grocers and pharmacists -- that the unions really want.

Businesses worry, rightly so, that the bill's passage would increase their costs. If unions organize and force excessive wage hikes -- as Tampa's public-employee unions have so successfully achieved -- the costs could force price hikes or job losses. And in today's economy, the nation cannot afford to lose more jobs.

This is more than a labor relations issue; it's a competitiveness issue.

Unions complain that businesses have the upper hand in keeping employees from organizing, but the organizers and their allies are not beyond using pressure tactics themselves. By changing the rules, the unions, which have steadily lost membership in the last half century, could increase their diminishing rolls and influence.

Yet McCain, who called the bill "a poorly disguised attempt by the labor unions to swell their ranks at the expense of workers' rights and employers," did little to alert voters about this scary proposition.

He should have championed the issue and explained the implications to voters, but in a desperate need for blue-collar votes, he refused to call attention to it.

It's true that a union revival will not take place overnight. And since the Democrats -- who rely on unions to help win elections -- did not achieve a filibuster-proof Senate majority, the bill may not move.

But labor does a disservice to those it would represent by using this time of economic uncertainty to strengthen its hand. Workers can ask for union representation if they want it, but unions should not be permitted to pressure workers to join against their will.

As former Sen. George McGovern, a union supporter, has said: "Working families deserve a voice and a private vote."

(tradingmarkets.com)

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