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'Card Check' tramples worker's privacy rights

Posted by Pamela Kan, CMTA Board Member (President, Bishop-Wisecarver) on Dec. 10, 2008

Last year, the misnamed "Employee Free Choice Act" (EFCA) was introduced in Congress.  This legislation -- expected to come to Congress early in 2009 -- effectively eliminates the private ballot process for choosing union representation and replaces it with a "card check system" when employees are deciding whether or not to join a union.  Earlier attempts to pass "card check" legislation in Congress were narrowly blocked.  However, union bosses have made it clear that their highest legislative priority next year is passage of EFCA.

The card check bill would eliminate decades of precedent established under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 by taking away employees' freedom to choose under a federally supervised, private ballot election when deciding whether or not to join a union.

Current procedures lead to swift and fair elections—most elections are held within 56 days filing an election petition, and labor unions, nationally, prevail more than half of the time. Under current law, union organizers have to obtain the signatures of 30 percent of employees that express interest in joining a union. After these signatures are collected, union organizers can petition the National Labor Relations Board to hold a secret ballot election. If the labor union receives more than 50% of the vote in a federally-monitored secret ballot election, the union is certified and collective bargaining must begin.

However, under EFCA, secret ballot elections are replaced with a system called "card check" which allows a union to organize if a majority of employees simply sign an authorization card. Under this system, the employees' signatures are made public to the employer, the union organizers and co-workers. Under a card check system workers face intimidation and pressure about how they should choose from the union, from management or both.

Trading federally supervised private ballot elections for a card check process tramples the privacy of individual workers. Secret ballots are the only way to protect an individual's freedom to choose without subtle or overt coercion.

New research shows troubling signs for candidates who support the union "card check" legislation.  The surveys conducted in states across the country show a majority of voters oppose the elimination of secret ballot union elections. This research also shows dissonance between union members’ concerns and the legislative agenda of union leaders.  In most states, opposition to "card check" is actually higher among union households. However, organized labor has made it clear that passage of EFCA is their highest priority.

If Congress passes this proposal, they will be stripping away federally protected private ballots from the hands of American workers.   Bishop-Wisecarver -- a union organized company in Pittsburg, California -- encourages the state's editorial media to expose the unfairness of this issue and asks employees and employers to urge their representatives to defeat this legislation.



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