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Obama, Unions and the secret ballot
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, July 31, 2008

If you're ready to revisit the era of union strong-arm tactics and closed shops (which have seen businesses flee for 'right to work' states), a vote for Obama is recommended.
"We're ready to play offense for organized labor. It's time we had a president who didn't choke saying the word 'union.' A president who strengthens our unions by letting them do what they do best: organize our workers," Mr. Obama told the AFL-CIO in Philadelphia on April 2.

"I will make it the law of the land when I'm president of the United States," Mr. Obama told the labor federation.
Of course, this promise explains why the SIEU is dropping $150 million in the effort to get him elected and why the AFL-CIO has "a ramped-up campaign" to help Obama win. In fact the AFL-CIO is committed to a 600,000 mailing to uncommitted voters on Obama's, and thereby the union's, behalf.

While Obama loves to claim he doesn't take money from "corporate lobbyists", he's hip deep in union money. And if you don't think they expect some real pay back when the election is over, then you don't know unions very well.

And what is it they want? The right to legally intimidate as they attempt to organize:
The AFL-CIO's campaign Web site features numerous quotes from Mr. Obama pledging to pass the card-check bill that would allow workers to form a union simply by collecting a majority of cards signed by workers supporting the unionization of their employer's business.

Under current law, once a majority of workers submit cards requesting union certification, an election is held in which workers vote by secret ballot on whether to ratify unionization. The pending bill, called the Employee Free Choice Act, does not require the secret ballot vote unless at least 30 percent of workers call for it.

The Obama campaign says the card-check bill will not necessarily deny workers the right to a private ballot.

"This is simply a debate over process. But it is up to the workers, and they should be free to choose their process," said campaign spokesman Nick Shapiro. "If they wish to vote by secret ballot instead of a card-check process, they can. The law does not strip them of that right."

But Mr. Obama is quoted in the AFL-CIO campaign Web site flatly saying the proposed law "will allow workers to form a union through majority sign-up and card-checks and strengthen penalties for those employers who are in violation" - thus bypassing the ballot procedure. Union leaders have said they prefer this to an open election in which employers and unions compete for worker votes.

The House passed the card-check bill last year by a 241-185 vote, but it was blocked in the Senate where Democrats fell nine votes short of the 60 votes needed to end a GOP filibuster

Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest business lobby, announced it was launching the Workforce Freedom Initiative, a counteroffensive against the AFL-CIO's efforts to "take away the protection of a private ballot, giving union organizers free rein to publicly pressure workers into signing cards stating support for a union. This is un-American," said Chamber President Tom Donohue.

The Chamber will mount a "multimillion-dollar effort [to] galvanize small-business owners, workers, community leaders and citizens to preserve the rights and freedoms of Americans in the workplace," Mr. Donohue said.

"The obvious intention and design of the bill is to eliminate private ballots as the primary means of certifying unions in this country," said Steven Law, the Chamber's chief counsel.
The private ballot is an absolute necessity for fair elections and anyone with the IQ of a three day old halibut knows that. Unions will spend upwards of $300 million during this campaign season to elect someone who will sign legislation eliminating that obvious safeguard and toss it off to 'an argument over process'. And he will also repeatedly remind you he is in nobody's pocket when he does so.
 
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Comments
The private ballot is an absolute necessity for fair elections and anyone with the IQ of a three day old halibut knows that.
Since when have the democrats cared about "fair"?
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Solidarity brother.

The union makes us strong.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
It’s obvious what the union has made you Retief.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
But does it make you strong enough to bring about the glorious Worker’s Paradise?

And under the Obama system, that sould be "Solidarity brother... Or else..."
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Solidarity Brother...or else

Certainly that’s the goal of getting rid of secret balloting.
That doesn’t worry Retief though, after all, if you voted for the right decision, the union decision, in the first place, there’s no need to fear any repercussions is there comrade friend.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
The strategy I adopted 2 decades ago of opposing politicians that unions endorse is still valid.

Unions don’t seem to have made the education system, or the auto industry stronger. In fact, it seems to have made them lethargic, inflexible, and poor performers.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Worrying about union coercion and not employer coercion is like worrying about Social Security and not Medicare.
But does it make you strong enough to bring about the glorious Worker’s Paradise?
Not yet. But let’s keep the red flag flying here.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Worrying about union coercion and not employer coercion is like worrying about Social Security and not Medicare.
Okay Dr. Strawman - where does it say employers are trying to eliminate the secret ballot? You know, the mechanism that let’s people vote what they want because no one else KNOWS what they voted when the results are tabulated.
You know, the mechanism that makes coercion and retribution that much more difficult because of the anonymity it provides.



 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
private ballot is an absolute necessity for fair elections and anyone with the IQ of a three day old halibut knows that.
That which has been demonstrated.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Retief, there are days when I can’t figure out it you are serious, or just writing a spot-on parody of a brain-dead soci@list.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Speaking of straw, did you really just ask where it says empolyers are figthing for card check? Comrade, employers aren’t fighting for card check because the current system doesn’t stop them from intimidating the people organizing themselves. Some typical tactics are cataloged here. (It’s a pdf, yes a pdf from the AFL/CIO - those industrial unionist sellouts.)

Billy, I’m often half-serious. Surely the appropriate response to wild calls about dirty collectivist union thugs is to pull out my little red songbook If somebody wants to stop huffing and puffing and have a real discussion about unionization, I’ll be glad to. But if it’s going to be all "Obama loves intimidation" I’ll just start a singalong. To the tune of Tannenbaun now fellas: The people’s flag is deepest red, it’s shrouded oft our martyred dead...
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
By intimidation do you mean exercising their rights as owners within the limits of the law?

Because, you know there are all kinds of labor laws that companies have to adhere to Retief. I’m afraid that even without a union to represent the workers the company has to pay them over time, and the company has to give them breaks, and the company can’t chain them to their sewing machines in fire trap buildings.
And all that, now, without unions to represent those workers. And based on the continual decline in union membership I’d say it’s working out okay for a lot of people, but not of course for the union leadership (that’s why they buy politicians the same way your evil corporations do).

No sing alongs, no union dues, no thugs fellow union members threatening to break the legs of discouraging others crossing picket lines during strikes because, wow, there are no strikes. No union dues being used to support political positions employees may disagree with.

Amazing.

But let’s sing the Internationale anyway, because, it’s such a great tune, we can use the Russian lyrics of course.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I prefer the French lyrics. Where do you think labor laws came from? The goodness of corporations’ hearts? And this milk of human kindness with which they are overflowing prevents them from illegally firing workers who talk about a union? Oh wait, they do that anyway.

This one’s for you brother.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
The evil behavior of corporations in no way argues for eliminating the secret ballot. As for the ability to intimidate, if it was as asymmetrical as you claim then employers would be arguing for card check, because then employees would fear an open vote because of employer intimidation.

As you may have noticed, I am very willing to throw corporations under the bus if they deserve it. So was Adam Smith. Nor do I dislike unions or think they serve no purpose. As long as they are representing their members wishes they serve a useful purpose.

Nevertheless, secret ballots are necessary to reduce intimidation whether from unions or employers, though it is quite telling that unions feel they need card check while employers feel it is to their advantage for employees to exercise their vote in secret. There is no rationale for card check but to allow somebody to use that information to target those individuals who might not vote the right way.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://riskandreturn.net
Where do you think labor laws came from? The goodness of corporations’ hearts?
Actually, no. Their greed. It isn’t large corporations that fight these laws, they generally support them. It is small businesses. Large corporations like regulation, which restricts the ability of smaller firms to compete. Unions and management are often on the same side on those issues.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://riskandreturn.net
Unions and management are often on the same side on those issues.
As a 24 year teamster(non-driving), working for a global shipping company, I know about 5000 in just our city that would agree. And neither one really gives a damn about the worker.
 
Written By: tonto
URL: http://
Increased unionization in a time of of inflation could be a bad combination if they argue for lots of raises based on "the increased cost of living." I’m not opposed to increasing wages, but worried about the spiral affect here.

Also, more unionization may appeal to people worried about globalization, but the timing is just about wrong as China’s costs are increasing and our domestic production becomes more and more competitive.



 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Where do you think labor laws came from?
Retief - I have often said that unions served a useful purpose at one point. Late 1800’s to early 1900’s. Since then, I question just what they are really trying to do. I was a member of 3 different unions during my career. In each one, I was told to do less, ask for more, and basically not think. I was told it was better for me to sit and do nothing, so that someone else would have something to do. How is that helpful? How does that mentality translate into a competitive world market?

I also look at the wages some union members are earning (r were earning when they had jobs) and wonder how they could possibly expect to continue earning that wage, and see it increase exponentially. At some point, you have to realize that tightening bolts on an auto frame is not worth $50 an hour.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
And all that, now,
Retief, perhaps the word ’now’ was far too nuanced for you. I gather you don’t read the New Yorker then, since you missed the nuance and are clearly not schooled in the style of our intellectual betters.

"Now" as in...today, as in today’s business world, rather than in the days of Robber, Railroad, callous industrialist barons, when unions served a vivid and much more valid purpose.

It would be wonderful if you could go back in time to achieve your fond days of company thugs, company towns & company stores so your praise of unions would have more merit, but alas those days are gone for the present.

I really have to wonder if you have any practical experience with a real union aside from reading about them in Democratic party screeds.

Meagain - yes, don’t touch that wire, don’t move those devices, don’t move that cube, the union has to do that.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I think the obvious question here is ’how many union members does it take to change a light bulb?’.
Fertile ground, there.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Lance, I understand your feeling that secret ballots would make for less coercion, being secret and all, but that is just not the case. Here is some actual data. And if you think about it you will see that a long election campaign will naturally generate more pressure being brought to bear by both sides than will a simple card check campaign. You do know that the union has to run half of a cardcheck campaign just to be able to get to an election, getting 30% of workers to sign cards saying they want representation?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
looker and meagain, allow me to recomend to you the tale of Buh Tukrey Buzzud an de Rain.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Retief,

What a bunch of piffle. I have no problem with a quicker, less contentious process. The NLRB process stinks. Glad to have you on board. Sure, companies prefer a less drawn out approach, and under current laws of course many on both sides prefer it over the lost time and contentious campaigns we see now. Especially those who if the union wins would need not need to "coerce employees" by letting them know that under union rules they might not survive. Kaiser Permanente is a good example of who would appreciate it.

That in no way requires doing away with a secret ballot. Everything cited in that study (and what a one sided presentation of data, anecdotes and characterizations) as being a positive about what they are proposing could be done with a secret ballot. If the unions, and you, seriously believe everything in that study to be true, you have a simple solution. Do it exactly like that while maintaining anonymity. That would end the controversy, except amongst ideologues who hate either labor or management.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
First you don’t have a choice between the NLRB process and your ideal proccess. Your choice at this point is between the current lousy system and the marginal improvments in the EFCA.

Second, if you had your ideal system, doing it all with secret ballots, what is your mechanism for initialing an election?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
oops, initiating
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Uh huh, again with missing the nuance in the phrase
but alas those days are gone for the present
You just keep telling yourself that we’re going to sweep back into the olden days if the union has to allow secret balloting to see if people want to unionize.

woah woah woah - what’s this little gem up there at the beginning of the document -
Why do opponents of card check and neutrality
agreements advocate for the government to intervene
and make innovative partnerships between
business and labor illegal?
Why disallow businesses
and unions from choosing a legal and legitimate
process that works for them?
And then this -

In the 21st century American workplace, adversarial
relationships pitting employers against unions during
organizing drives increasingly are being replaced
with cooperative agreements involving “card check.”
Within these arrangements, successful employers
such as Cingular Wireless and Kaiser Permanente
freely choose to recognize a labor union when a
majority of employees provide signed cards authorizing
union representation.
Card check procedures are commonly paired with
neutrality agreements. These voluntary pacts
between employers and union representatives establish
a code of conduct that prohibits each party
from disparaging the other or using intimidating,
coercive tactics on employees. Under this process,
both parties work together to set rules that give
workers a chance to freely decide to form a union
without pressure or interference from either side.
Employers who have experienced card check and
neutrality agreements attest that this process significantly
reduces costly, drawn-out conflicts that commonly
surround NLRB election processes. As a
result, these cooperative arrangements are defining
new labor standards that balance profitability with
workers’ needs and rights.
While card check and neutrality agreements have
grown more popular in recent years, they are not
new. Card check and neutrality agreements are a
long-standing, legitimate process of union formation
that is recognized under labor law.

WHERE in McQ’s article is the draft of the law that that MAKES CARD CHECKS illegal? Are you telling me Kaiser and Cingular broke the law by allowing card check and neutrality agreements? This survey of yours says they are successful companies and they used this method and it wasn’t illegal.

No, there is no law that specifically makes card checks illegal is there...so, - bold faced lie in the first paragraph of your document, ON ONE is talking about outlawing card checks, at least not in the law McQ is posting about.
In the two cases cited, I’ll wager they came in with a large number of cards indicating people wanted a Union and Kaiser and Cingular just said - okay by us, you obviously have a majority of our workers interested, let’s talk.
Under current law, once a majority of workers submit cards requesting union certification, an election is held in which workers vote by secret ballot on whether to ratify unionization. The pending bill, called the Employee Free Choice Act, does not require the secret ballot vote unless at least 30 percent of workers call for it.
In reality if a company is going to use strong arm tactics to stop unionization they’re going to do so regardless of the yes/no decision making mechanisms for unionizing. If they’re NOT going to strong arm opposition the union actively, they’re not, and that’s about all your survey actually tells me.
A company can still close it’s door, it can still fire suspected union organizers (at least until the Union is fact, and then good luck firing anybody).

It sounds to me like the Unions want the ability to, essentially, stage a takeover coup on uncooperative companies.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Your turn - let’s tell parables and sing the Internationale one more time as a basis for your argument.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
First you don’t have a choice between the NLRB process and your ideal proccess. Your choice at this point is between the current lousy system and the marginal improvments in the EFCA.
First of all, it isn’t an improvement. Nothing in that document shows how it would improve anything. Even if one accepts everything it says, none of it justifies what is being proposed. In logic we call that a non sequiter, just as your talk about evil intimidating employers is a non sequiter. None of it implies we should do away with the secret ballot.

Second, why can’t I have the ideal process? Oh yeah, because that isn’t what the unions want, nor their legislative backers. Why don’t they want that? For the same reason we don’t assume accept airy promises from businesses. Look to their interest, not their altruism. If it were their concern for fair dealing with workers they would reform the system with anonymous voting.
Second, if you had your ideal system, doing it all with secret ballots, what is your mechanism for initialing an election?
What? How about it is requested, use any format you want, as long as the actual vote is secret. Why not have the unions, if they are really concerned with worker desires, suggest a system that protects those workers who might not go along with the unions desires? They will not, because they don’t want to.

 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
looker, Well there’s “Secret Ballot Protection Act of 2005” (H.R. 874; S. 1173).

Repeat after the Tukrey Buzzud: Dis rain done ober.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
it isn’t an improvement.
Well that’s where we disagree. But to make that argument you have to suggest that EFCA is worse than the current system and refrain from suggesting that it is worse than some imaginary set of reforms.

Also I think you’d find plenty of union support for your idea of secret ballot elections called by the union any time. You get the manufactures association signed up and I’ll bring the unions.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
But to make that argument you have to suggest that EFCA is worse than the current system and refrain from suggesting that it is worse than some imaginary set of reforms.
No I don’t, because the point is that we know what this is really about because the reforms proposed are what they are. If National Association of Manufacturers came up with an idea that obviously gives them more leeway to abuse workers who wish to unionize, and then said it was all out of their concern for workers with all kinds of "beside the point" studies about how awful unions behave and how modern workers don’t want unions anyway (which is in fact far closer to reality) I don’t need to win the argument that it is worse than what exists now, the argument has already been won. You wouldn’t accept the argument from me if I made it in that case, nor should you. Just like I won’t accept the argument from you in this.

We know the unions are full of it, because they didn’t come up with a plan that protects workers for the same reason.

This plan is worse though, because it exposes workers to whoever wishes to intimidate them. We know who that is, since we know who wants it. Even if you don’t accept that, and buy that little piece of propaganda you linked to, then it exposes them to employer intimidation and undue influence. Why unions want that I don’t know, but you are the one positing it so you deal with that contradiction.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://riskandreturn.net
I’ve worked for the City of LA for 18 years. I’ve had the pleasure of watching our public employees unions do their thing. They do not follow the LAW as it is! When somebody tries to get a Governor removed, the signatures are declared invalid. Governors are banned from meetings for simply asking questions. I was told that the "process is like making sausage..people really don’t want to know what goes into it.." The fact is, that many employees are more afraid of the union then they are of the management. I can’t imagine why anybody running for President would be so misguided as to announce that they support abolishing the mandatory secret ballot process.As an American, I demand to be protected from the Union thugs in the same way I would be protected from a street gang or the mafia. Card Check does nothing but encourage harrassment in the workplace. SAVE THE SECRET BALLOT!
 
Written By: Hostage1
URL: http://
Also I think you’d find plenty of union support for your idea of secret ballot elections called by the union any time. You get the manufactures association signed up and I’ll bring the unions.
That isn’t what I said. I said called by the employees. That would be as open to abuse as giving employers the right to call elections anytime they wanted.

 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://riskandreturn.net
Surely most people will realize that the cards will not be private and protected. The Union’s will have to provide the cards as evidence of majority and then the names will be available. The names would have to be made available to ensure eligibility as a current employee.

The secret ballot ’does’ ensure privacy and fairness.

Personally, I don’t have to take a pay-cut(dues) to enjoy rights that are already law.

If the liberals want to help the worker, they should lobby for getting rid of the ’no fault’ laws in multiple states. That way, Federal and State laws already in existance will have more weight.
 
Written By: Adam
URL: http://

 
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