11/3/08

Obama bans secret ballot union elections

Daily Secret-Ballot News: here
Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act" • More EFCA: here

To fascistic U.S. labor unionists, local preferences do not matter

In tight-knit communities such as Hickory and Conover, employers and employees work and live side by side. We share churches and schools, dine at the same restaurants and enjoy the recreational opportunities offered by Lake Hickory. We work together, too, proud of our businesses and their friendly, supportive environments.

Public policies at all levels of government should strive to foster, not undermine this sense of community in the workplace and beyond. However, big labor organizations in Washington, D.C., are pushing Congress for passage of the so-called "Employee Free Choice Act" (EFCA). This misguided legislation would not provide employees with any kind of "free choice." Instead, EFCA — also known as "card check" legislation — would take away workers' rights and bring turmoil to many workplaces.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"


At the most basic level, EFCA rewrites traditional labor law and takes away a worker's right to vote by secret ballot in union elections. Today, workers have the right to unionize — and they should be free to choose this path if they feel that the benefits of unionization outweigh the costs.

However, if EFCA becomes law, employees will not be able to make their decisions freely and privately. Instead, unions will be able to have employees vote publicly by "card check" — filling out a union card. An individual's vote will be known to fellow workers, union organizers, management and other members of the community.

The situation will expose a worker to potential backlash from one side or the other.

Unions and management both have the right of free speech. They can present their arguments to workers in writing and in person. But neither side should have the right to coerce workers by exposing their votes and taking action — or threatening action — in response.

Ending the secret ballot is just one part of the EFCA. In addition, this legislation would limit the right of employees to vote on the contract under which they will work. Traditionally, rank-and-file employees have the final say in a contract negotiated by a union and an employer. Under EFCA, stalled negotiations that drag on for longer than 90 days will result in the intervention of federal arbitrators who will write a contract that must be followed without the opportunity for workers to vote on it.

With unemployment rising and increasing global competition, working Americans are justified in hoping that public policy might strengthen employment protection. But U.S. businesses, especially small- and medium-sized local businesses, are operating in the same economic environment as larger companies. Energy, raw material and health-care costs have risen dramatically. International competition and pricing pressures force many businesses to operate on razor-thin margins — or try to survive in the red.

Big labor does a disservice to the people it purports to represent by attempting to use this period of economic uncertainty to strengthen its hand. Today, workers can ask for union representation, but unions should not be able to force any worker into joining a union — and paying dues — against his or her will.

On principle, EFCA makes no sense, but it is an especially bad policy for our region. With a few exceptions, most businesses in the Hickory area are modest in size and truly part of our community. And every business that I know takes a genuine interest in the well-being of its employees. Local business leaders recognize that our companies are only as strong as the people we employ, and our success depends on meeting the needs of our workforce as best we can.

In other words, despite our differences, business owners, management and employees together form a community that faces common challenges. And we should confront these challenges together. Officials in Washington — and in Raleigh — should look for opportunities to support businesses and workers together, not enact policies that fragment our communities.

- Leroy Lail, Chairman, Hickory Furniture Mart

(hickoryrecord.com)

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