Taking away secret ballots tops Dem agenda

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

Secret ballots are the American way

Current labor law is straightforward. If 30 percent of employees call for a vote, a federally supervised representation election is held. If a majority of workers votes for the union, it wins the right to collect dues and represent them.

Yet union membership has been on the decline for decades. Less than 8 percent of the nation's private-sector workforce is unionized.

As president, Barack Obama will be under pressure from Big Labor to change that, and he is quite likely to comply. In the Senate, he was a co-sponsor of the cynically named "Employee Free Choice Act."

It would do away with the secret ballot and expose workers to union pressure. Unions would be allowed to organize workplaces by getting workers to sign authorization cards in public - exposing them to pressure from organizers and pro-union co-workers.

Related video: "Employee Forced Choice Act"

Union representation is down to 12.1 percent of the total work force nationwide, and 14.7 percent in West Virginia. Naturally, union officials here want to change that.

"When things get bad in the workplace, that's when workers come to us and say, 'We'd like to have a union'," Kenny Perdue, president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, said.

"This (legislation) would allow that process to follow through. Right now that process isn't allowed to happen because corporate America has been able to stop the organizing and the NLRB process."

Actually, what the present law does is protect workers from intimidation by either side. It leaves decisions on union representation to wage earners themselves.

That's where such decisions should remain. Workers know what they want, and when they want unions, they get them. The current system is not broken.

Unions typically win more than half of thousands of representation elections held each year. They won 61.4 percent in 2006 and 60.1 percent in 2007.

Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, said workers and employers are concerned about the card-check proposal.

"In the United States the secret ballot is nearly sacred," he said. ""What the unions want to do is take away the secret ballot."

That would subject employees to intimidation that is currently unlawful, he said. Organizers would even be allowed to follow employees home.

Unions are believed to have spent more than $300 million - from workers? - in an attempt to elect a filibuster-proof, 60-seat majority in the U.S. Senate so they could put this proposal into law.

They failed.

So should the Employee "Free Choice" Act.


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