10/12/08

Obama, Dems peddle bogus 'Free Choice'

More EFCA stories: hereMore card-check stories: here

Check the fine print when Congress and Organized Labor collude

Next spring, a U.S. House controlled by the Democratic Party will pass a bill along to a U.S. Senate that may boast a veto-proof majority of Democrats, which will forward the measure to a Democratic president who vows it will be a top priority.

It is known as "card check," or, officially (and ironically) the Employee Free Choice Act. It is a measure coveted by unions, for which they have shelled out over $48 million this year to help elect Democratic candidates. What is "card check"? Despite all the Democratic interest, it is, without question, the most undemocratic federal proposal in the history of American labor relations. It is the antithesis of "free choice."

And nearly every Democrat in Arizona running for Congress, including newcomers Ann Kirkpatrick and Bob Lord, is foursquare behind it.

The right of workers to organize is anchored in a universal principle. Union leaders such as George Meany, Walter Reuther and Crystal Lee Jordan - the real-life "Norma Rae" - fought for it, sometimes literally.

That principle is the private vote. The privately logged choice to organize or not. A choice made without anyone looking over their shoulders - neither company thug nor union goon.

When the vote is secret, no one can leverage you. No can call you names or threaten you or your family. The history of union organizing in America is nasty, bloody and infuriatingly imperfect. But, in the end, labor leaders could claim they etched in stone the same right for workers that U.S. voters enjoy: the secret ballot.

That's all about to change.

Under the Employee Free Choice Act, unions will be able to organize workers - and, no small matter, collect dues - once they have collected signed cards from 50 percent of a company's workforce. Currently, the National Labor Relations Board allows an election if 30 percent of workers sign union cards. Now, the cards are deemed simply a "show of interest" - an informal method of getting to the heart of the matter, which is a vote. The EFCA effectively disposes of that bothersome provision.

The EFCA would enact other measures intended to strengthen the union hand, like imposing binding-arbitration requirements in the initial stages of the organizing process. But no part of the bill impacts workers like the card-check provision does.

Card-check advocates somehow manage to delude themselves that union organizers who are desperate to expand membership would not use coercive methods to strong-arm the last hold-out employees standing between them and an organized shop. They kid themselves into believing that card check is all about the best interests of workers.

It is in the best interests of unions, certainly. But not even current union members consider that the same thing: 78 percent of union workers oppose any form of voting that does not afford them privacy and anonymity, according to a 2004 Zogby poll.

Despite that, Democratic District 1 candidate Ann Kirkpatrick (over $100,000 in contributions from unions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics) is committed to supporting card check. So is District 3 Democrat Bob Lord (over $124,000 in union contributions). And so, too, is District 5 incumbent Harry Mitchell (over $219,000 from various union and organized teacher groups). Raul Grijalva in District 7, likewise.

Lord contends he is supporting card check because he knows people "who have faced threats and intimidation at work."

And having their names, addresses, phone numbers and positions regarding unionization known to union leaders and company managers alike helps eliminate threats and intimidation exactly . . . how?

You want threats and intimidation? Just wait until those workers find themselves as the last hold-outs in the "unsigned" column of a union card-check list.

- Doug MacEachern

(azcentral.com)

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